'Anabta, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Te'enim Crossing, Thu 13.5.10, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
13:45 Habla agricultural gate.
The gate has been locked since 13:30. Two soldiers still stand next to it.
S. is driving a cart loaded with boards. He’s not allowed to enter. He and his horse may come in, but not the boards. These need their own authorization from the DCO. He’ll be allowed in only if he unloads the boards. In a later phone conversation about the matter, the DCO officer wants to know the number of boards.
13:47 The school bus arrives, returning children to their homes in the Bedouin villages that have remained on “the Israeli side” of the new separation barrier in the Alfei Menashe salient. Until a few days ago they came through the new yellow gate of the new fence, that’s been completed, but it’s been closed since Wednesday. Was the hand that locked the previous gate the same hand that locked this one?
13:50 Y.'s is prohibited from entering, and he also can’t obtain authorization to use checkpoint 109/Eliyahu crossing. He needs authorization in order to work his land. No one explains the reason for the refusal, and make him keep coming back in a manner that’s insulting. “Why are they doing this?”
14:05 Karin calls the humanitarian office to tell them about the children waiting in the midday heat. After many attempts, she’s transferred to the DCO. The telephone is busy. When she finally reaches the officer, he tells her to call in ten minutes. “I already waited ten minutes,” she says. “I believe you,” the officer replies.
S., Y.and the school bus all wait for the officer and the key (the soldiers at the gate don’t have a key).
14:07 A white van approaches, but when the driver sees the gate is locked he isn’t as optimistic as his predecessor, turns around and drives off.
A few children, 8-10 years old, get off the bus, apparently to ease the wait.
14:15 An officer arrives in a command car. He talks on the phone.
14:25 In the wake of the phone call, apparently, the soldier at the gate says that only the bus can go through.
S.’s request has been denied for two reasons:
1. He stole the boards.
2. The boards haven’t received an authorization.
Y. also hasn’t been approved, with no explanation. The gate opens (the officer had a key).
14:30 The school bus crosses!
14:55 At the entrance to Ras A-Tira the new gate (yellow) in the completed fence that has been completed is locked. It isn’t manned. There’s an additional gate in front of it, also locked, preventing access to the security road. There’s an additional small gate in the fence (for pedestrians?).
15:30 Anabta checkpoint.
Cars travel in both directions without interference, including those with Israeli license plates.
15:45 Jubara/Te’anim gate – little traffic, flowing freely.
15:52 Irtah/ (Efraim gate)
Many of the Palestinians returning from work run toward the turnstiles.
There’s already a long line in front of them (more than 150 people). The turnstile isn’t working.
There don’t seem to be long lines inside.
We hear shouting. Most of the crowd are men. They let the few women ahead of them; they crowd near the turnstile. We hear people calling “Open up, open up.” A young mother holding a baby looks at us gently, as if to say: I know you’re on my side.
16:05 The turnstile starts turning. The line lengthens. It’s very crowded. People address us in Arabic, undoubtedly complaining about their daily plight.
16:10 The turnstile stops. Inside the terminal, only three of the many inspection booths are open.
16:12 The turnstile starts turning again. This is the third day that a new identification system is operating – a magnetic card and palm scan simultaneously. The system takes longer, and patience gets shorter. The new technology seems to need improving. More people arrive, and the crowding increases. Many try to go through the turnstile – which anyway is very narrow - in twos and threes. One man yells, “Look, look what they’re doing to us!” A young man says, in English, almost whispering, “bad life, bad life.” His face expresses what he lacks the words to say.
16:17 A very strange sight: a group of children, aged about 10, accompanied by a few adults, tries to leave the inspection area (to Israel?). But the turnstile turns in the opposite direction. This is when workers return home. In any case, the children are too young to be laborers. Where are they going at this hour? There’s a conflict of interest between those entering and those leaving. Each party wants the turnstile to turn in the direction that will let them through, but it isn’t even working. While the children are trying to crowd their way through, two young Palestinians, looking worried, try to find out what happened to a handicapped person in a wheelchair, who certainly won’t be able to go through the turnstile. They say they’ve already been waiting for that person more than an hour and a half. He has to join the children. The picture slowly becomes clear – the children were invited to a soccer game in Jaffa at 17:00. There’s no way for them to arrive on time.
They have to be back at the checkpoint at 19:00. There’s no way they’ll make it.
16:40 The handicapped person appears.Perhaps he waited for a key to the gate that his wheelchair could go through (Keys seem to be the hero today).
With growing anger, he explains he’s the head of Aqaba village, near Jenin. He and the children were invited to the game, and to the Peres Center for Peace. Maybe, he reflects, that’s why they gave us trouble. “This is the last time I go to Israel! They dumped us like dogs. I’m finished with efforts at understanding! I’m through with striving for peace!” Some time will pass before the bus leaves for Jaffa. The good-will mission will arrive late.