Reihan, Shaked, Sun 5.8.12, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Even though we arrived early, almost all the gates were already open. The concrete cubes and plastic barriers had been taken away or moved to the roadside. At 07:00 the first laborers arrive from the West Bank on their way to the seam zone, and also a herd of goats. A festively-dressed family and a solitary student cross to the West Bank. A few cars from the seam zone wait for laborers.
Eight loaded trucks and pickups enter for initial inspection. A truck laden with packages of frozen (for now) meat from Uruguay in the parking lot on the Palestinian side. We were told the meat had been unloaded from a refrigerated truck which is apparently not authorized to cross to the seam zone. About five hours will pass before the meat reaches the butchers’ refrigerators in Barta’a.
A man from Yabed who arrived at the checkpoint at 05:00 is waiting in the shed. He has a bag with two bottles of milk, a gift for his sister in Barta’a. He was told he may bring the goods through only at 09:00. He waits patiently, even somewhat amused. Does he know what we’ll learn only at 11:15? We summon the person in charge who arrives quickly to tell us nothing can be done, those are the rules; he isn’t able/allowed to explain them to us but assures us they’re not at all arbitrary although that’s how it seems to us. Nor is he willing to put the milk in the refrigerator. When we phoned Sharon, the manager of the checkpoint, he said he’s not aware of that rule and promised to look into it. And in fact, at 11:15, as noted (the delay was caused by problems with our phones), we received an authorized response from Sharon, the manager: There was a misunderstanding regarding the regulation dealing with equipment and merchandise. Merchandise?! We express amazement – we’re talking about two bottles of milk. Yes, says Sharon, we made the regulation more explicit. Unfortunately it didn’t occur to us to record the identity of the man who was detained for 4 hours without even being given an explanation for the absurd delay.
The checkpoint is manned, the soldiers moving cars through without delays. One asks us if we have authorization to be there.
For Mireleh’s benefit, we also visit Hermesh. The new neighborhood built not far from the gate is still uninhabited, as it was on our previous visit; it appears neglected. Most of the other buildings in the locality look well-cared for.
08:55 We returned to the Barta’a checkpoint. The meat truck has in the meantime parked on the road, waiting to enter inspection. The owner of the milk bottles joins a short line before the locked gate which opens at 09:00 for people to enter five at a time. Incidentally: the bathrooms in the lower parking lot are filthy.