Reihan, Shaked, Tue 31.5.11, Morning

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לאה ר. אנה נ.ש.

Translator:  Charles K.

06:15  Reihan/Barta’a checkpoint

A smooth flow of people exiting the terminal – at this hour, mostly Shahak workers and the seamstresses.  Later the Barta’a workers will arrive – from throughout the West Bank.

Pickup trucks loaded with fruit, vegetables and food wait for inspection.  Five cars wait in the middle of the checkpoint.  They drive off fifteen minutes later and a few pickup trucks take their place.

One of the drivers says the inspections begin at 5, right when the checkpoint opens, not like in the past.  He’s been waiting since 5, and he wasn’t the first…He estimates that it will take him five hours to get through.  The inspection itself takes about an hour, seven pickup trucks at once.

Workers from the Occupied Territories who works in the industrial area of the seam zone are dispirited because of the difficult working conditions.  The pay is low; no one cares about their hardships.  They aren’t paid overtime and don’t receive the required benefits.  They don’t dare complain because they fear retaliation.  B. says that a worker who was fired and later complained is now forbidden to enter Israel and can’t find another job.  Given what life is like on the West Bank, and the large families, there’s no choice but to take whatever is offered, even under conditions resembling slavery – for the glory of the state of Israel!!

07:00  Tura-Shaked checkpoint

The soldiers have just arrived and are busy opening the checkpoint gatesinfo-icon.  It takes ten minutes before the routine begins.  Thirty or more people wait at the revolving gate on the Tura side.  On the other side those waiting are mostly teachers and pupils, and a bank employee in a suit and a shiny blue car.  The pupils arrive in small groups on foot.  Their usual transportation didn’t show up today.  Summer vacation has started, but first they have to finish exams.  At 07:10, the first people enter the inspection building.  Crossing is relatively rapid.  Maybe to prove there’s no need to open the checkpoint at 6, as the locals want.  In a few minutes the first person exits to the seam zone.

We’re told that two people, an old man and a youth, aren’t being allowed to cross even though they have valid permits.  Later they come through nevertheless.  The old man wearing a kafiyyeh, dressed in traditional garb, upset after the confrontation with the soldiers, talks about a problem with the computer which keeps occurring:  on days the computer is down, soldiers write down the names of those entering and leaving on sheets of paper.  When there’s a great deal of confusion at the checkpoint, the soldiers may not record everyone, which is what occurred for the past three days.  So when people who weren’t recorded upon leaving try to return, the soldiers don’t believe they went out here and suspect they hadn’t returned home at all, and don’t allow them to reach their lands today…Only after a stubborn argument, with the old man reminding the female soldiers what she said to him, and what he replied, the dear IDF soldiers allowed themselves to be convinced and let the two of them cross.  Or maybe they found the missing pages.

During the morning’s activities we heard yelling and announcements over the loudspeaker; for a moment we thought we were at a summer camp.

G. (a very impressive man, about 50), had an agricultural permit which expired on April 4th.  He contacted Abbas (the DCO representative) in March and asked whether he should reapply before it expires in order to insure it would be renewed on time.  Abbas told him it wasn’t necessary, because the permit would be renewed automatically when it expired.  There’s nothing to worry about!  G., skeptical, reapplied anyway at the Palestinian DCO, but to no avail, for some reason.  Bottom line, since then he’s reapplied a few times, went to the DCO, spoke to whomever he spoke, was shamefully rejected by whomever rejected him, was told that he’d get it this week for sure…yup.  As of today, 1.6.11, he’s still waiting.  Abbas promised that this week he’ll get it, 100% for sure.  At worst, next week.  We’ll see.

08:00  We left as the last people were coming through.