Reihan, Shaked, Sun 3.2.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
We give the checkpoint its name because of the nearby Shaked settlement and the Palestinian villageof Tura. The fence left the village in Palestine but severed it from some of its lands which, along with the settlements in the area - Shaked, Hinanit, Tal Menashe, Reihan, all built on Palestine’s land – were included in the Israeli section, Area C, “ours.” Everything west of the fence is the seam zone, containing a few more Palestinian villages torn from the West Bank, whose residents hold green Palestinian ID cards: Daher al Malik, Khirbet Radayyah.
The fence cuts the Palestinian inhabitants of the enclave from the center of their lives in Jenin, for example, from their families on the West Bank, from schools and workplaces, and forces them to obtain crossing permits and undergo inspection at the checkpoint whenever they leave home for destinations on the other side. That’s why that checkpoint is known as a “fabric of life” checkpoint, allegedly to permit the local population to maintain a normal life. But the checkpoint isn’t open 24 hours a day and there are restrictions on crossing. The relatively long hours it is open are a result of a court case initiated by the residents of Tura against the Israeli Civil Administration.
Other West Bankenclaves are also called “seam zone,” and were also created when the fence snaked around them to protect the settlements. As a result, Palestinian lands were placed beyond the fence, forcing their owners to obtain documents confirming their ownership (which they don’t always possess) in order to receive permission to cultivate them during the arbitrary times the occupier set for his own convenience.
I’m repeating what’s already well known so that this report doesn’t leave the impression that “everything’s ok.”
The checkpoint opened on time. The soldiers were polite. The sergeant who unlocked the gate of the fenced corridor used by people coming on foot from the seam zone even offered us something to drink. Another soldier, responding to our comment about the site’s facilities, said that they’re not what’s important – what’s important is how the people who cross are treated. We agreed with him.
The vehicles transporting the kindergarten and lower grades pupils also went through without incident, without the children being inspected, while the driver who’d brought them from the nearby villages left the vehicle outside the checkpoint, went to be checked on the computer, and only then took his vehicle to be inspected, went through and brought the children to their schools on the West Bank. That’s not how children elsewhere in the world go to kindergarten, nor in Israeleither.
A school principal also crossed in his jalopy; his friend told us that recently he’s been receiving only half of his regular salary because Israelwithholds tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority, so how would he be able to buy a new car?
Students also crossed. The girls usually ignore us, unlike the boys, who say hello.
The checkpoint routine continued; we drove on.
Reihan-Barta’a terminal 07:35
This checkpoint’s main function is to serve the inhabitants of eastern Barta’a, in the seam zone, who cross to the West Bank, with permits, of course, on their various tasks and errands, and also residents of the West Bankwho work in Barta’a, some owning shops and businesses in the town.
The checkpoint appears indistinguishable from an actual border crossing. It’s been privatized and is run by a civilian security company. There’s a large terminal for inspection of those crossing, including rooms for more rigorous inspections if necessary, a parking lot, a large area for inspecting merchandise from the West Bankwhere trucks are unloaded, inspected and reloaded. The goal of the operation is to be both efficient and polite. Patients crossing to Israeli hospitals, often for radiation treatments, are allowed to bypass the terminal. All seemswonderful and proper.
The flow of people crossing is uninterrupted; we noticed no special problems other than those people not allowed through whose permits were confiscated for reasons that may or may not have been known to them. They approach us for help.
The bathrooms at the upper parking lot were filthy, without toilet paper. Ironically, the liquid soap dispenser was full.
A large sign faces the line of trucks waiting to be called for inspection; it’s apparently new, indicating in words and pictures what goods may not enter without a special permit from the Ministry of Health and the Veterinary Services – vegetables, meat and poultry products. There’s also a distinction: products originating in “area localities” must be unloaded, inspected and reloaded by the “back-to-back” method; for products originating in “Israeli localities” passing through the inspection station is sufficient.