'Anin, Reihan, Thu 26.8.10, Morning

Netta (reporting from Jalameh), Shula B. (reporting and photographing)

Observers:  Translator:  Charles K.

06:00  A’anin checkpoint

Five minute before sunrise, cool and pleasant.  A small group of people (10-15) waits in the middle of the checkpoint, as do two tractors.  Most of those leaving are familiar faces, and they all greet us cheerfully.  They stop to exchange a word or two, joke.  One asks, as usual, whether we’ve brought clothing, another whether we have an Israeli bride for him – anyone will do, he really needs a blue ID card.  The olive trees are heavy with fruit, the harvest season approaches and they don’t have authorization to pick.  Two young men are turned back to the village.  Their permits have expired.  No one gets upset, or so it seems from a distance.  They tried and failed.  Allahu akbar – God is great.

06:35  Reihan checkpoint

Upper parking lot and entrance to the terminal:  The usual checkpoint hubbub.  A young man carrying a bag containing a drill says he waited an hour in one of those small side rooms because of the suspect drill.  The drill came through at 6, but he came through only at 7.  And he summarizes the Israeli efficiency in one well-chosen word.

People say, “Today (the crossing) is ok.”  And what about yesterday?  “No good.  A 40-minute delay, for no reason.  But today’s good.”  These words pierce our hearts and fill us, again and again, with shame.  Someone calls our attention to the cold-water fountain – filthy.  Isn’t the checkpoint administration responsible for its installations?

07:10  Lower parking lot:
Quiet.  Five minutes later a new wave of men with valid crossing permits arrives, strictly kosher, some are wrapped up as expected during Ramadan.  Because they enter five by five, a noteworthy Israeli innovation, the line of 20 people disappears in four beats.

08:20  Jalameh checkpoint (Netta)
I drove to the Jalameh checkpoint in order to take M. and his son to Rambam Hospital.  I was a little early and they were late because they forgot there was now an hour difference between Israeli and Palestinian time.  Cars belonging to Israeli Arabs cross to Jenin.  From time to time a line of 5-7 cars forms in front of the vehicle checkpoint.  Written in Hebrew, at the entrance to the terminal:  “Israelis must be in a vehicle in order to cross.”  “Exit to Jenin 08:00-15:00.  Entry to Israel 10:00-18:00.”
Might we also be Israelis?

We see various types of trucks on the other side of the fence, leaving the lot where goods are transferred back-to-back.  Containers are parked nearby, without cabs.  Light pedestrian traffic at this hour.  Petty merchants carrying their goods in bags cross to Israel.  A Hebrew-speaking nun crosses to the West Bank.

Three children, about 14 years old, sit on a bench inside the terminal.  A maintenance man explains that they crossed via Jerusalem without a permit in order to peddle goods in Israel, and now they want to go home to their village, Bani-Na’im.  The woman inspector mistakenly calls me to enter the terminal.  I try to find out what’s happening with the children and she becomes angry at me and at the security guard who’s willing to talk to me.  They ask the children for their parents’ phone numbers in order to verify their ID numbers.

08:45  I see through the fence and the revolving gatesinfo-icon that M. and his son are entering the terminal.

09:15  The children are still waiting.  An Israeli car wants to return from the West Bank.  The driver is told to wait until 10:00.  M. and his son exit the terminal.  The father tells me it took half an hour to go through, even though they weren’t put in a room off to the side.  They were just detained for no reason before the inspection booth.