'Azzun 'Atma, Burin (Yitzhar), Eliyahu Crossing, Jit, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 24.10.11, Morning
06:20 'Azzun Atma south – Dozens of people (about 100) waiting beyond the checkpoint for their rides to work. About 100 people on line at the checkpoint. People go through quickly, 20 in about five minutes. Occasionally the MP emerges, looks through someone’s belongings, and returns to his position. Women go through the vehicle lane and then immediately move on to have their documents checked. A man with a donkey cart arrives; the gate opens for him. The children trickling in from the area south of the fence, on their way to school in 'Azzun 'Atma, also go through the vehicle gate. A man coming from 'Azzun 'Atma goes through the vehicle gate to his home, explaining he lives here – south of the gate – and it’s up to the shift commander. Sometimes they let him get home quickly, and sometimes send him to wait in line half an hour like everyone else.
07:30 Ariel, eastern gate
We decided to try to reach olive harvesters at the Ariel gates. We followed the DCO here. An extended family arrives in a car, men, women and children, park in the lot outside the gate, where some cars are already parked. The DCO came to authorize their entry through the gate and into Ariel. He lets them in; they walk with a ladder on the security road to harvest their grove, which is in Ariel. They’ll bring out all the olives at one time, when they finish picking. More Palestinians arrive, are inspected at the gate after waiting briefly and go through to work in Ariel.
We wanted to see how to reach the Ariel gates, but the DCO says we can’t get there because we’d have to walk along the security fence. Maybe we have to look for a way to the groves from within the village, between the houses. He said we wouldn’t be able to get to them by car from Marda either, but maybe we could reach them from within Marda, with the locals’ help.
On the way to Salfit from Ariel the road is very wide, with wide shoulders and guard rails on the side – that’s what we need in Israel. Farther along Highway 60 there are garbage bags every few meters and laborers cleaning the roadside, a scene that continued all along Highway 60, at least until Sara. When we returned to Israel we didn’t see roads that had been cleaned up by hand - plastic bags and refuse were everywhere. On the way down from Ariel was a small settlement, in trailers – Nofei Nehama – signs at the entrance inviting people to come live in that wonderful location, etc.
07:50 Tapuach junction
Many signs on the fence around the parking lot, “Beinish – have you murdered and also inherited – Giv’at Assaf,” and “Change is up to us – Giv’at Assaf.” No soldiers at the crossing, but people driving through slow down because of the road humps, and perhaps because they expect soldiers to suddenly appear.
08:10 Yitzhar junction
Two policemen check documents of people coming from the direction of Jit junction. We don’t see any soldiers at the Huwwara checkpoint, except for a pillbox, but soldiers stand on the road up to Mt. Gerizim, and it’s partly blocked.
We continue to Highway 60 toward Jit junction.
08:40 The entrance to Sara
A Hummer, the exit road partly blocked by a spike strip, soldiers checking documents of cars leaving, a short line occasionally forms but is gone quickly. They leave five minutes later.
09:15 Eliyahu gate – The landscaping around the parking lot continues to improve – we’re here to stay, is what that tells me. Kennels for dogs next to the parking lot; I hadn’t seen them before. It’s not clear whether they’re for guarding or for looking for explosives. They were very loud when we tried to approach them, and we were told, of course, not to go near. A Palestinian woman went through the pedestrian crossing very quickly. In the inspection parking lot Israeli Arabs underwent inspection – now, when there’s no congestion, inspection is relatively rapid, two inspectors checking each car.
We also drove onto the road to Wadi Rasha to see what the gate looks like. Everything is blocked, but these aren’t the hours when it’s open. We weren’t able to see where people leaving to pick olives (if anyone does so) are bound for.