Habla, Monday 29.10.12 morning

Nur (photographing), Sna’it (reporting), Translator: Charles K.

We arrived at 06:10 to see what happens before the gate opens.


It’s the last day of Eid al Adha; schools are closed but some people are going to work.


The whole area around the gate is very messy and neglected.  A plastic bag hangs from a concrete pillar off to the side, looking very much like an IV bag, but it’s a fly trap – and there are many flies, most of them settling on open wounds in the skin of the beasts of burden waiting on both sides of the system of gatesinfo-icon.  A large pile of cigarette butts on the ground next to the little gate for people to enter the village, indicating that those who stood there had to wait a fairly long time.


An increasing number of people, carts and a few commercial vehicles gather  on the other side of the gate nearest the village.


The soldiers arrive a few minutes before seven, open all the gates and fences (the main gate is operated electrically).


People begin to exit a few minutes after seven.  About one person per minute came through until 07:45, and less frequently until eight.  Only six women crossed on their way to work.  Most coming through at this early hour were older men.


A few minutes after eight another wave of people arrived, most of them very young.  And also parents, mothers and sometimes fathers with young children (for example, fathers who took young boys or girls in their work carts).


There’s a concrete shed on one side of the gate with a soldier pointing his weapon at those crossing and a female soldier is inspecting backpacks and larger sacks.  The content of the carts is also inspected.  People carrying clothing in their bags are interrogated (to determine whether they’re trying to bring a change of clothes to people in Israel illegally).


Approximately one person crosses per minute.  But between seven and eight the entire line is held up for twenty minutes when two people coming from somewhere else – in the seam zone – want to cross through the gate, and apparently their documents have to be inspected, checked over the phone, etc.  We also witnessed some argument about them between the female soldier sitting in the office and a soldier who appeared to be the checkpoint )commander on this shift.  (Cf. attached photos of people waiting)


We asked the soldiers what was going on.  Their answer:  “We have nothing to say.”


A few people crossed after 08:30.


We asked someone who was waiting with a horse cart to cross how things were.  “Today’s good; if the soldiers are ok, everything flows like water with no rocks in the way.”


One young man who’d crossed and waited for his friend struck up a conversation with us.  He’s young, and sees his future as comprising a continual search for work and a life between checkpoints.  He asked:   “Does the world know about us – about our suffering – who reads what you write?”  He said:  “I’ve just gotten engaged - [we congratulated him] – what can my child look forward to – what can I tell him about what he sees around him?  About the checkpoints?  My fiancée wants to study to be a teacher, but she won’t have a job, like all the young people here who’ve gone to school for four years and are sitting at home.  It would have been better to go to work immediately in the plant nurseries.”


The checkpoint closes at nine.  We left at 08:45.