Habla, Jaiyus, Falama, Kafr Jammal Tue 3.5.11, Morning
The buses that were waiting at the checkpoint when we came, got passage permits only after the soldiers had checked the inside each of the buses. This took longer than usual. Only then and behind time did the traffic of pedestrians begin. There is now a fenced lane leading from the Palestinian gate to the turnstile and the inspection cabin.
The first group of five left.
Those who left complained that the gate had opened late that morning and that since the beginning of May the opening and closing hours had been troublesome. Opening the gate at 07:00 is too late in spring and in summer although the extended opening time, from 07:00 to 09:00 helps. At noon the gate is open between 13:00 and 14:00 and in the evening between 17:45 and 19:00. Workers who get there around 16:00 have to wait a long time until they can return home.
There is a new and clear sign on the big, renovated gate. It says in Hebrew, Arabic and English: Mortal danger, Military zone 0 Passing or damaging the fence is life risking. It also says the number of the gate, 1393, the opening hours and the phone number of the DCO [District Coordination Office of the IDF Civil Administration that handles passage permits].
Loud and nervous voices are heard coming from the Palestinian gate. It seems that the team of reservists that is here today is new and inexperienced. No one of the DCO is present and despite the relatively high number of soldiers, the scene is rather chaotic.
The soldiers aren't violent and only shout at the people to back up and then they close the passage. More and more people with carts and bicycles pass through the gate. For some reason, the person who turns on the water every day is detained and is not allowed to pass with his cart. The soldiers seem to be unfamiliar with the procedure and demand that he call the DCO to arrange for a new passage permit for himself and his donkey-drawn cart. Eventually they let him pass without his cart and the fueling supplies that are on it.
We call Tedesa but he is unavailable. Then we call the DCO and talk to Y., trying to clarify various delays. We ask him to send a DCO representative and/or call the checkpoint in order to confirm the routine passage of the man and also make clear the procedure. One of the Palestinians, a Hebrew speaker, who had agreed to take a few steps back in order to help the communication with the soldiers, standing some distance from there, is warned not to come close. We try to explain to the soldiers that they have to call the DCO instead of sending the man to do it, delaying his merchandise.
A major from the Brigade who appears there absolutely refuses to talk to us and even threatens to take away the Palestinian's permit if he tries to help. It turns out that the DCO confirm that the "Water man" is allowed to pass, but in the mean time the man has gone away towards the fields without his cart.
The officer's presence reduces the Palestinians' protests, who have no choice but to yield to the absurd situation. Despite the delay and the restrictions, they keep passing relatively quietly.
The talks with the DCO continue throughout and beyond our stay at the checkpoint.
A military Hummer stands at the entrance to Azzun but we notice no obstruction or people being delayed.
We go to see a family that asked for help in contacting an Israeli lawyer concerning a brother who is held in detention. We take details and documents.
We take a signed authorization and photo copies of other documents from a young man who had been refused passage and needs help in an attempt to revoke the decision. There is no traffic of Palestinians at the gate.
We stop for a chat at the grocery store. Among other things, we suggested that they join the enterprise of summer fun days on the beach for Palestinian children. This activity has to be completed in the next visit according to the guidelines of Tsviya and Rachel who are in charge of organizing these fun days.
As we leave, the Hummer that we saw at the gate to Azzun when we came in, is not there.