Beit Yatir, Sansana, Mon 20.9.10, Afternoon

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Zipi Z. and Michal Tz. (reports)

Translator:  Charles K. Metzudot Yehuda (Beit Yattir)We returned to the crossing, this time when the children of the Abu Qabita family were returning to their homes at the foot of the Beit Yattir settlement.  We crossed to the “Israeli” side to be near enough to see how the crossing operates.When we arrived we saw the security guards immediately reporting that the MWatch women are here.  They then asked again whether they could help us, and when we said that we just wanted to observe, they politely but firmly told us that it’s a security zone and we’re not allowed to stand near the building or the guards, “for your own safety, of course.”The person in charge even volunteered to accompany us the 200 meters toward Beit Yattir, stood with us where we were permitted to stand and answered all our questions patiently.Again we asked what happens to the children. He said that everything proceeds as usual: there’s a magnemometer, and backpacks go through the scanner, and that’s all. Very rarely, when it’s necessary, without (he said) going into details, there’s a more rigorous inspection. He repeated that they’re aware of people’s feelings and treat the children well, and when it’s necessary to check a girl, it’s done by a female staffer.  When we said that there have been complaints about excessive searches and delays of girls, he completely denied such things had occurred. We thanked him and waited for the children.The children said the same thing: they remove their belts and all go through the magnemometer. At this point we asked M., our driver, to give all twelve of them a ride home so they don’t have to walk the two kilometers uphill in the heat of the day. Motti, the manager of the Sansana-Meitar crossing, is also in charge of Metzudot Yehuda. After yesterday’s conversation with him about the unpleasant contact between one of our members and one of his staff at the Beit Yattir crossing, I decided to meet him face-to-face to find out exactly what was going on.Motti, attentive and polite as ever, wanted to make things clear:

  1. The Abu Qabita family and its children are the only Palestinians permitted to go through the Metzudot Yehuda crossing.
  2. To the best of his knowledge, no irregularities occur when the children are inspected.
  3. People aged 16 and over are inspected as adults.
  4. Backpacks must go through the scanner.
  5. An agreement was reached today with the DCO that the children will no longer need individual permits. The inspector will have a list of the children, with their photographs, she’ll identify them and they’ll cross more quickly and simply.

Nevertheless, we insisted, and said there had been complaints about body searches of girls and lengthy delays, but he persisted that hadn’t occurred, and said that the locals had even praised his staff’s behavior.According to him, the children even manage to steal whatever they can after being inspected, and the guards aren’t always able to catch them. When they caught a boy and spoke with his father, he replied, in his son’s presence: “We’ll take everything that you leave and don’t keep an eye on! It’s your problem.”“That’s what the boy hears from his father,” Motti tells us. And that’s how shoes, yard equipment, toilet paper and other things disappear. “You should also tell that to those who complain,” he suggests, and I promise to do so. The conversation broadens to a discussion of how complex the situation is, and his job as manager of the installation. He says that complaints and grievances come to him from all directions. The settlers also complain about rules and regulations they’re required to follow, and he and his staff have to insure everyone adheres to the rules. Meitar-Sansana crossing“What do you think about what goes on here at Meitar?” he asks. We happily confirm that things have greatly improved, laborers cross quickly without delays, and get to work on time.He tells us about positive responses he’s received from official Palestinian representatives regarding the recent improvements, and shows us plans for more improvements in the area for trucks and in an area that will be specially designated for food sellers – so that in the future they’ll be permitted to stand in an appropriate location.“Maybe the peace talks will also have a positive effect?" I ask.Motti isn’t optimistic. As someone who appears to be younger than the Occupation, he does the best he can.We, who know there’s no such thing as an enlightened Occupation, must be content with the fact that there are people who try, meanwhile, to act humanely despite their problematic daily confrontation with the situation, and to be grateful that our opinion is taken into consideration and our presence is important and has an effect – and more than a minor one.