Barta'a-Reihan, Tura-Shaked, Ya'bed-Dotan, Sun 5.5.13, Morning
North, 5.5.13, morning
Ruti T., Hasida S. (reporting)
Translator: Charles K.
06:40-07:45 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
We arrived early, about 20 minutes before it opened. The entry gate is wide open but the facilities and fenced corridors within are still closed. A youth comes from the direction of the solitary house; he’ll later cross to Tura. The gate to Tura is still closed and locked; some 20 people are grouped before it. We made a brief tour (that harmed no one) inside the gleaming checkpoint area, filled with installations: fenced corridors on either side through which people enter and leave, sheds of different heights, traffic lights which aren’t lit, empty locations for soldiers who’ll arrive exactly at 07:00 in a military vehicle that looks to us like those used for transporting prisoners.
The checkpoint opens. The first to cross are drivers headed to the West Bank – a school principal and the driver of the pupils’ transportation. After a brief document inspection they return and re-enter the checkpoint with their vehicles. Now the cars are inspected. Meanwhile, the children have gone through on foot and wait for the driver next to the gate on the Tura side.
07:10 The first person crosses from the West Bank to the seam zone. The first car also comes through. We hear annoyed voices from the fenced corridor on the Tura side. The computer in the booth is working, everything’s in order, but for some reason the inspections take a long time and by 07:30 only five people have come through. At 07:45 only two people wait at the revolving gate; soon two more join them. Life continues on both sides of the checkpoint. A young woman, a teacher, crosses with her two small children and asks us for a ride to Umm Reihan. On the way she drops off the children with her sister in Khirbet Radayya. Her sister is taking care of them today because their grandmother is ill. These are the same “arrangements” all of us make.
08:10 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint
The Palestinian parking lot is completely full. When we began coming here, in 2003-4, the Barta’a checkpoint was situated south of here, a small checkpoint with two simple gates on either side of the fence and the security road. As the years went by it was moved north and was transformed into a new, huge, sophisticated checkpoint for pedestrians and vehicles, with a modern terminal and also an area for inspecting trucks carrying goods. The checkpoint was privatized in May, 2007, and is run by a civilian security company (supervised by the Ministry of Defense); it’s luxurious, full of decorations, trying to appear like an ordinary border crossing. The old Barta’a checkpoint is still there. For a while it served as an agricultural crossing that opened twice a day; we don’t know whether it’s still operating.
The new Barta’a checkpoint is intended to serve residents of the seam zone who have to cross to the West Bank as well as residents of the West Bank who must reach the seam zone enclave. Five or six villages are trapped in this enclave which has been created by the separation fence winding among the settlements that leaves the villages in Area C, under Israeli control, annexing the Palestinian lands to Area C. The Palestinian village of Barta’a is the largest among them (which accounts for the checkpoint’s name). In addition to people crossing between the West Bank and the seam zone, holders of humanitarian permits also go through here, such as people being treated in Israeli hospitals. Palestinians working in Israel are also allowed to cross here in the afternoon to their homes in the West Bank. And, in fact, the changes at this checkpoint since it was first established reflect the intensification of Israel’s occupation and the ongoing, deliberate taking over of Palestinian land.
08:30 Yabed-Dothan checkpoint
The checkpoint is already manned; two military jeeps park in the new space at its center. A small group of armed soldiers proceeds to the olive grove along the road, apparently on a training exercise.
Traffic flows, cars coming from both directions, from Jenin and its surroundings to the northern seam zone, and back again. A stinking Israeli garbage truck on its way to a dump in the Nablus area, small water tankers pass in both directions (with water for irrigation?). Agricultural produce and other goods go through, as well as trucks on their way home after unloading their cargo.
We also drove home.