Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Tue 18.12.12, Morning

Idit S., Anat T. (reporting)


6:50 Sheikh Saed
Today the checkpoint was managed relatively calmly: no line, crossing workmen promptly picked up at the bottom of the hill, teachers and doctors hurrying to work, and children waiting for their transportation and smiling at us.  So very different from our shift a couple of weeks ago:  what a difference one obstreperous soldier can make to the smooth operation of the checkpoint and all those crossing.
7:45 Olive Terminal
Upon arrival we found only one position open to the public and a line of some 15 men and women crowded in front of the turnstiles.  A few minutes later one humanitarian passage was opened where women and children can cross quickly.  We were watching the event from a side corner inside the checkpoint area, when suddenly 2 security guards from a private company came up and asked us to leave.  We showed them the IDF instructions which permit humanitarian organisations to be present and also to film, but the guards have a different interpretation of this text.  They claim it permits us to cross but not to linger, just like everyone else using this checkpoint.  "But that's not what it says" we argue, and then comes the familiar riposte: "It's for your own good, just for your personal security."  For the n-th time we reply that we are not threatered, neither do we disturb the passage and checking of persons.  The argument continues, we earn some scolding and close observation.  This is a matter of principle for us because what transpires in the checkpoint can be observed only from within -- from outside the view is obstructed by opaque fences.  Finally, after a phone call to D., the checkpoint commander, a delegation arrives led by a border policewoman who calms the worried guards.
A few minutes later we're on our way.