Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Jubara (Kafriat), Te'enim Crossing, Mon 21.11.11, Morning
06:30 Habla. The gate was closed and locked, but we see Palestinians waiting on the other side. A phone call to the checkpoints officer, T., shows that, officially, the olive harvest is over despite that fact that the month of November is not finished and rain fell for a whole week which prevented people from working! The opening hours of Habla returned to 7 AM - 9 AM (and probably also the afternoon and evening hours remained the same). We also clarified the situation at Jayuus North, where the morning hours are 06:00 - 06:30.
06:40 crossing 109. We met workers who had gone through. They had been waiting since 04:00; the checkpoint opens at 05:00, and they went through at 06:30. They complained that the inspectors worked very slowly In the parking lot, there were taxis waiting to take workers to the nurseries and to Alphei Menashe. They reported that workers go through from 05:00 - 08:30 in the morning, and return in the late afternoon. Also the driver of a private car, who works in the nursery, was waiting for passengers. A nursery employee complained that both he himself and his car have to be thoroughly checked with dogs etc. every time he goes through. There are days when he has to pass up to 10 times, and be inspected each time. We cross the road and try to observe the inspection area of the workers and the vehicle inspection. It is difficult to see, as they added a fence which is so close that you can't see through it. A worker going by complained that, in the afternoon, there is a long line of people returning from work and, when there is rain, there is no protection and the inspection takes a long time. The manager of the area arrives and asks us to move back and stand next to the settlers' transport station, a place from which we are not able to see anything, naturally. A "discussion" develops, one-directional, in which he sticks to his opinion that the conditions at the checkpoint have improved a lot and that the Palestinians should be happy that the checkpoint is now in civilian hands. Each of our questions has a pre-determined answer. Everything is quick, efficient and humane.
07:30 At this hour there are few workers going by. We measured the time for 5 workers, from their entrance to the booth until their exit: 6 minutes.
07:45 Agricultural gate at Falamiya. A tractor with women and children coming to the olive harvest enters after inspection. There are only a few people entering. Although the harvest has officially ended, there are still people who haven't finished their work. Also a farmer from Jayuus reported to us by telephone that they hadn't finished because he was the only one from his family who received a permit and the rains also caused delay.
08:15 Jamal village. At the grocery we were told that they hadn't opened the gates today at all and there were still a lot of olives to harvest. Besides, the problem had not been solved of the 5 Palestinians whose permits were confiscated because they tried to open the gates preventing them from entering their land, even though they had permits to enter through the main gate. In a discussion with T., we were told that the problem is known, but they hadn't solved it because of the rain and promised that they would deal with it and, if the issue is not solved within 3 days, to remind him. He also suggested that I give H. his direct phone number so that he could call him himself. I asked Z. at the grocery to call me if the problem remains unsolved. Again, I ask myself and my friends if, and how, we can be of more help in this issue.
09:00 Jabara checkpoint continues to operate as usual as the only entrance and exit gate for the residents of the village, and only people with special licenses who are not residents of the place are permitted to enter. We go down onto the road to Tulkarm, travel under road 557, and arrive at the outskirts of Izbat Shufa, over the "Fig checkpoint". There seems to be a gate there which opens every day at 11:00 only for Israeli Arabs wanting to get into Israel. The gate is open until 23:00 at night. It isn't clear whether we are permitted to cross when the gate is open. We will try to find out the reasons for this special gate. At this point, there is no choice but to turn around and all the way back. We are given some Guavas to eat and turn back. On the way, we pass areas filled with beautiful wild flowers.
10:00 Return by way of gate 101, quiet at this hour.