'Anin, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 28.2.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
A’anin checkpoint, 05:55
[Photo: Misty dawn at the A’anin checkpoint]
The checkpoint is open, residents of A’anin (on the West Bank) are already coming out toward the seam zone with their agricultural or employment permits. Since fewer seem to be coming through (some also were not allowed through; they were sent back), the crossing permits issued for the olive harvest, which has ended, must have expired. And in fact, based on conversations with people and the many appeals to us for help obtaining crossing permits, we get the impression that the occupier is, increasingly, severely limiting the number eligible for permits, particularly farmers who are kept away from their lands – their source of income, their pride, the essence of their tradition and their existence.
The seam zone is the area sliced away from the Palestinian villages by the separation fence that was erected in order to annex the settlements to Area C, under Israeli control. Every plot of land in the seam zone belonging to a West Bank resident entitles the owner and their family members to X crossing permits so they can work it. More permits are granted for large plots than for small ones. Prior to the occupation and the fence, all members of the family could participate in the various farming tasks on the family’s land. Today the occupier (who might – could it be? – covet the land for himself) makes it harder for the farmers to reach their land, whether they’re the land’s legal owner or their heirs (who aren’t the owners), or hired laborers. Suddenly they find their permits aren’t renewed. They are prevented from reaching their lands. Why? They’re not told.
That’s Fadi’s story as well. He’s 34, was born and lives in A’anin, married with three children. His 9 year old son fell from the second storey and received a brain injury. We met Fadi last month at the checkpoint. He said that for more than a year his wife hasn’t been able to obtain a crossing permit, that his permit is due to expire and he fears it won’t be renewed (and it wasn’t). He asked for help. The permits of his father and two brothers (they’re the only four people working the family’s land; the father is the legal owner) aren’t being renewed either. Why? They’re not told. He went to the Palestinian liaison office (irtibat); they told him he’s blacklisted from crossing to the seam zone. Why? They don’t know. He went to the Salem DCO, where he was told he’s blacklisted. Why? They won’t say.
We inquired at the Civil Administration (a military body that runs the lives of Palestinians in the occupied territories), and heard an interesting version: his wife was caught going through the checkpoint with false papers (so it’s a punishment). Fadi swears that never happened. Another interesting version: the quota of permits for his family’s land has been filled. Fadi doesn’t understand. Who could have received permits for his family’s land? Only he, his father and his two brothers apply to cultivate it. No permit had been granted or renewed for any of them. Listen, he tells me on the phone, I can’t keep going to Salem; I can’t afford the taxis. Nor do they tell me why I’m blacklisted. Help me.
Shaked-Tura checkpoint 07:00
[Photo: A section of the pedestrian fenced corridor]
A military ambulance is parked on the Tura (West Bank) side of the checkpoint, alongside a police bomb squad vehicle with all its antennas and devices and accessories. We didn’t understand what was happening. The soldiers were working calmly. People cross as they do every day. Lots of action when the checkpoint opens, but three-quarters of an hour later everything will slow down and the soldiers will start yawning. The checkpoint is fairly small, occupies less than a dunum, but it’s bursting with coiled and straight fences, traffic lights, traffic signs, gates, sheds, concrete barriers, signs, canopies, people sheltering and more and more installations that aren’t really necessary, all crowded together, the evidence of corrupt planning, waste of taxpayers’ money and sheer stupidity - not necessarily in that order - crying out to the heavens.
Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint 07:45
At the checkpoint we picked up two women from the West Bank. One had received a bone marrow transplant and was on her way to Rambam hospital for treatment; the other accompanied her. We went through the truck inspection area. One of the supervisors from the civilian security company running the checkpoint escorted us efficiently and politely.