'Azzun, 'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Mon 23.8.10, Morning
06:35 Eliyahu Crossing (109)20 people are still waiting. 5 people go through each time, the processing time is about one minute per person.
06:50 Habla They hadn’t started to bring people through, but it seems as though the soldiers are finally getting organized and are about to begin. A military policeman checks documents and then sends 5 people in a group to the shed. The female soldier asks them to come in threes, but the Palestinians convince the soldiers that they have already organized themselves by 5's, so the passage is quick and with no delays. In ten minutes, 5 groups of 5 passed through.
07:25 Jayyus West On the way, we meet Stella, from the Ecumenical Group, walking from the village to the checkpoint. 07:35The gate is still locked and there are about 10 Palestinians waiting next to it. They say that the gate is frequently not opened on time. We call T., the officer in charge of passages, who says he will find out why.
07:45 A Hummer arrives and the soldiers open the gate quickly and start to bring the waiting people through. When we ask why there was a delay, they answer that the female soldier didn't feel well and vomited and they took her back to the base. The soldiers know the people going through and treat them politely; most of them are adults since work permits for agriculture are mainly given to adults. There were also two vehicles waiting to go through. Two adult brothers sit in the first one, plus the son of one of them. They are apparently 7 brothers who inherited their land from their father; they have 500 dunam of land, all of which is on the other side of the fence where permits are only given to adults to go and work the land. A small number of youths are given temporary permits. It is very difficult for them, but this is their land and their living and they proudly told us about the crops they are growing, in spite of the difficulties. They complain that the Tzofin gate closes at 05:00 and the man who works their well lives in Qalqilya and has to get home at this hour and they can't irrigate their land at later hours. They receive permission to go through in their vehicle. The owners of the 2nd car also have a permit for their vehicle since, according to them, their land is spread over a large area and they have 100's of dunams and could not get to all the area without a car.
Stella took us to the southern gate of J'ayous. Her friend was already waiting there for the soldiers who come to open the gate, after they close Jayyus West. The way to the gate passes through the village and then, on a bad road, since part of it passes along the route of the fence which was moved to there. It is interesting and moving to see how the farmers try to rehabilitate their land which was destroyed by the fence and are planting new trees there. Not all the Palestinians arrived to go through and apparently that happens frequently. The soldiers sometimes wait in their car and open the gates only if someone comes but today, in our honor, they opened the gates. The Ecumenical group arrives there by foot. We took them back to their house in the village and, on the way, they told us about their work. At night, when the soldiers arrive to give out summons from the GSS in the middle of the night, they leave their house and stand in the road so that the IDF knows that there is someone watching even at night.
09:00 We return to ‘Azzun and travel to the northern checkpoint of ‘Azzun Atma, in order to see if it is operating again. We pass through the villages among well-tended vineyards. 09:20The checkpoint at northern ‘Azzun Atma is deserted this morning, no soldiers, and we saw the taxis entering freely into the village. Because of a shortage of time, we did not enter the village ourselves, as we didn't know if the soldiers would allow us to pass through the upper checkpoint. 10:00We returned through ‘Azzun to highway #55 and through Eliyahu Crossing toward home.