'Azzun, Eliyahu Crossing, Falamiya, Habla, Jayyus, Kufr Jammal, Mon 9.1.12, Morning
Report on the schoolchildren 85 children from the Bedouin village of Arab a-Ramadin which is located in the seam zone next to Checkpoint 109 on the hills near Highway 55, travel each day in two buses to school in Habla. In the morning they must go through the Habla agricultural gate to enter Palestine, and return that way in the afternoon. The children are aged 7-18. The same drivers work every day; their documents are usually inspected quickly and the children don’t have to get off the bus. Sometimes the soldiers enter the bus with drawn weapons to inspect (something – I don’t know what…). They also check around the bus.
There were times in the past when children who looked older were taken off the bus and asked for documents, and were even sent back home, far away, without any means of transportation.. Today, say the drivers, there aren’t any problems.
Another group of 35 children attends school in the village of Nabi Elias.
Soldiers sit waiting in a military vehicle. Many Palestinians wait to cross.
06:50 The soldiers get out and begin getting ready to open the checkpoint. The checkpoint commander explains that they try to open early so there won’t be congestion. And in fact the first five enter the inspection building at 06:56 and exit at 07:00. The next group enters at 07:00 and exits at 07:04. People continue to go through at the same rate during the entire time we were there.
The Palestinians exiting stop at an announcement posted on the gate, which states:
As of 10.1 (that is, tomorrow)the checkpoint will open at 07:15,which will make it harder for everyone. The soldiers don’t know the reason for the change and understand the difficulties it will cause the Palestinians. The other opening and closing times haven’t changed.
07:10 The school bus arrives, waits for the second bus and then both drivers get out and wait together to enter the inspection room. The soldiers are new here; they ask who the children are and where they’re going.
07:20 The buses cross.
07:25 We leave after the elderly guard from the plant nurseries arrives and crosses quickly.
07:35 Checkpoint 109
We go into the parking lot and talk with the waiting taxi drivers. They complain about the inspections they have to undergo each time they cross the checkpoint, sometimes ten times a day. They request that dogs not enter the vehicles, and not slobber on the seats and in the glove compartment. Dogs aren’t used on Saturday; inspection is carried out with the magnemometer, so if that’s ok why aren’t their requests taken into consideration?!
Cars are inspected quickly in the vehicle area. No line of pedestrians crossing at this hour.
08:10 We leave.
We drive to Jayyus via 'Azzun 'Atma. We see the pruned and plowed olive groves along the way, ready for the coming season. We missed the turn to the Falamya agricultural crossing (the blue post we used as a landmark had been removed…) and reached Kafr Jimal via the highway. The schoolchildren have exams so regular classes aren’t being held; the children fill the streets. But since we wanted to see what was happening at the Falamya agricultural crossing, we drove back. We saw no one going through, except for a tractor that crossed and continued north for a long distance on the security road.
We drove through the village of Falamya (where there were also many children in the streets) and then back to Kafr Jimal to see whether the permits that had been taken from them a few weeks ago had been returned.
09:50 The Kafr Jimal grocery
It turns out that farmers aren’t allowed to enter and cultivate their olive groves, as we saw in the Jayyus area. לא ברור לי – באזור ג'איוס כן נתנו לחקלאים לעבד את החלקות, או לא נתנו להם? They’re allowed to go through the Falamya checkpoint to the za’atar fields and avocado groves but can’t get to the more distant olive groves that are closed off behind concertina wire, even though they were promised access. Moreover, a Palestinian whose name and address I have, his wife and his brother, whose permits to cross via the Falamya gate were confiscated as punishment, haven’t gotten them back. They’re farmers; that’s their only income, they’re no longer young and no one in the family is able to get to their lands.
We met the children of our friend, the owner of the grocery, who’d gone to the beach during the summer and whose eyes sparkled recalling the wonderful experience.
On our way home we saw the first anemones and almond blossoms.