'Anin, Mevo Dotan (Imriha), Reihan, Shaked, Thu 4.11.10, Morning

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Observers: Neta G., Shula B. (reporting and photographing)

Translator:  Charles K.

06:25  A’anin checkpoint
Why do you come here, a seven-year-old Bedouin girl waiting for a ride to school asks curiously. 
What are you doing here, anyway, especially before 7 in the morning, asks one of the soldiers at the checkpoint, with hostility.

The final days of the olive harvest.  There are still farmers complaining to us their children still haven’t gotten permits to help them pick.  The harvest is a family operation, but it’s more important for the Occupation to show contempt for Palestinian traditions instead of honoring them.
Now we can see oil at the checkpoints, and problems connected to getting it through.
These days, about 150 people cross at A’anin every morning.  During the olive harvest, the checkpoint is open every day.  Soon it will go back to being open only twice a week, even though work in the olive groves won’t be completed for a few more months!

06:50  Shaked checkpoint
Very heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the checkpoint.  A soldier in the concrete bunker in the middle of the checkpoint, cut off from reality.  Wrapped in a tallit, praying.  Swaying as required.

A tractor loaded with olive wood for heating is sent back.  These are cuttings that pile up in the groves at the end of the harvest.  He wants to bring them through the checkpoint, for heating and cooking.
The checkpoint’s female MP explains, “Cutting down olive trees is prohibited!”, while Abas, the DCO representative, says that a decision hasn’t yet been made.  How much discussing and considering and wasting time is necessary for this?  Why make things more and more difficult?
A minibus arrives, 26 small children who go to school in Tura, on the West Bank get out. 
How could they all fit?
They fit.  They fit.  They’re crammed in.

A resident of the seam zone has 90 cans of oil to bring into the seam zone from the olive press on the West Bank. He’s not allowed to bring more than five a day, so he shows up daily and brings five across.  He can bring them all in at one time through the Reihan checkpoint, which is far away, but he’d have to pay NIS 400 transport costs, which he doesn’t have.

A little boy, two years old, Amir, runs toward us through the checkpoint.  The female MP runs after her, then understands someone is waiting for himon this side.  Her father brought him from Tura to the checkpoint, and his uncle is taking him to his grandmother in Dahar al Malek.  The youngest independent checkpoint user.

07:55  Dothan checkpoint
A Hummer parked in the middle of the checkpoint, soldiers standing around it, and for ten long minutes don’t let through any of the cars that are showing up on both sides.  Then they let all of them through without inspection.  Heavy vehicle traffic.  A tattered Israeli flag flies again from the heights of the pillbox.  Israeli flags wear out quickly here.

08:20  Reihan checkpoint
Lower parking lot:  People enter and go through the fenced corridor leading to the terminal, where there’s a traffic jam.  No one goes in.  They stand outside a long time.
Landscaping and exterior design work has also reached the Palestinian parking lot – designs based on backgammon are everywhere, and a vine has been sent to climb the canopy over the waiting area, where the unemployed drivers usually snooze. 
Upper parking lot:  Many taxis (minibuses) wait for clients who aren’t exiting the terminal.  People who do come out complain there are hundreds within.  One hour.  Two hours.  The checkpoint administration – say they’re taking steps with respect to the crowding.
We saw no improvement by the time we left at 9.
Just inside the entrance to the terminal, two people who were in Israel without permits are waiting for their sentences – will they be sent home, or arrested.  Meanwhile, they’ve been sitting here an hour.