'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Falamiya, Habla, Jayyus, Mon 3.12.12, Morning
05:50 'Azzun 'Atma'
A large number of laborers wait outside, warming themselves at small fires. A very short line at the exit.
The reservists are very efficient and polite. There is a lot of new construction at the checkpoint; there’s no doubt it will be here forever…
New procedures have been instituted at the checkpoint. It opens from 05:00 to 07:00. After 07:00, only holders of special permits and those with 00 ID’s who are permitted to stay overnight in Israel are allowed to cross. Soldiers are on site all the time to open the checkpoint if necessary.
(We received this information from the current checkpoint commander – a reservist ; I recommend reconfirming it on other days and at other times.)
06:20 Tamar checkpoint
According to the information we were given, this checkpoint is also open from 05:00 to 07:00, but when we reached it at 06:20 the gate was locked. We drove to the other end, closer to Oranit, where many large trucks and giant bulldozers are paving the route of the new fence and the new wall surrounding Oranit. The gate here was also closed, but as we arrived we saw a military vehicle and a female soldier opening the gate to two Palestinian buses driving toward 'Azzun 'Atma. There was no one we could ask about them. The soldier drove to Tamar gate, near 'Azzun 'Atma, and opened it at 06:30 exactly for Palestinians who crossed on foot and walked toward Oranit and Kafr Qassem.
It turned out that, as of 1.12.12, all the gates again open at the usual winter hours that were in force before the olive harvest began.
A DCO officer who was there (I forgot his name) told us the Tamar gate opens from 06:30 to 07:00.
The guard at the construction site is a Bedouin from the north. He served three years in the army, as did his father and grandfather. But he said he couldn’t get a job with the Israel Electric Company after he was demobilized, or with the Israeli Railways or the Israel Lands Administration. He’s very angry at the State.
We observed the settlement of Oranit which doesn’t require special decisions by the government to expand and conquer more and more lovely hills covered with olive trees. The locality is surrounded by a wall which also encompasses hills on which there’s no construction yet.
A printed notice is posted on the gate, specifying the new hours it’s open.
Morning: 06:30 – 08:00. Afternoon: 13:00 – 14:00. Evening: 17:00 – 17:30.
The plant nursery that sprung up next to the gate is expanding. Rows of adult olive trees for sale along the road to the checkpoint.
The pink schoolgirls’ bus waits at the gate; the veteran driver is being inspected. When he returns to the bus he drives to the area between the two gates, stops and the bus is carefully checked, including the empty baggage compartment. Remember – the children’s bus comes from “Israeli territory” to the Palestinian village!
Inspections proceed slowly; it takes five minutes for each group of five laborers. One of laborers emerges very angry at the female MP who treats the Palestinians like dirt. As best as we’re able to see, not many people wait to cross. The “plant nursery coordinator” arrives at the gate and asks why the laborers are being delayed. He addresses the checkpoint commander by name. He tells us that he owns the largest plant nursery; the olive trees near the checkpoint are his. We’re astonished when he tells us he buys them from the Keren Kayemet; they come from the Beit Shemesh area. He doesn’t bring olive trees from the West Bank! He speaks excellent Hebrew. He says he’s in contact with the DCO officers on behalf of the plant nurseries and their workers. He says more wells are planned between the plant nurseries and the fence around Qalqilya so more land can be cultivated; it’s not being worked today because there’s not enough water.
07:00 Eliyahu gate
No people on foot; a few cars being inspected at the facility.
08:05 Falamya agricultural gate
We see a road being paved into the area beyond the fence. It turns out that the Jayyous municipality, with the army’s permission, is financing the paving of roads between the fields and the orchards for the residents’ benefit!
We meet Ma’azuz, Jayyus’ deputy mayor, in a car inside the checkpoint. He hadn’t noticed that the car’s permit had expired December 1, and despite phone calls to the DCO he wasn’t allowed to cross with it even though he goes through every day to deal with paving the road. The soldiers tell him that if the DCO authorizes him to cross there’s won’t be any problem. I give him Tedesa’s phone number, who tells him that he must go to the DCO to renew the permit.
The hours that the Jayyus agricultural gate is open:
Morning: 05:30-06:30; Afternoon: 13:00-14:00; Evening: 17:00-17:30.
Ma’azuz says that 05:00 is too early in the morning – it’s still dark – and 17:00 in the evening is too late – it’s already completely dark.
After a long conversation we part; Ma’azuz sends regards to Anat and Dalya and drives to the DCO.
08:55 We return via the Eliyahu gate.
Our guest is stunned at what we saw today. For me, it was a pretty normal day as far as the occupation is concerned.