'Azzun, 'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Falamiya, Habla, Sun 4.8.13, Morning
What did we see on the way to the checkpoint? We saw groups of Palestinian laborers walking along the roadside, we saw people going through a hole in the fence, we saw holes hacked through the fence, we saw a military jeep driving to catch laborers without permits who managed to cross through the holes.
What did we see at the checkpoint? We saw laborers waiting for their employers since the early morning, we saw laborers waiting on line for half an hour just to leave the village, we saw dozens of detainees who’d sneaked through the holes, had been caught and were waiting for their IDs to be returned so they could go home without having been able to earn a little money for the end of Ramadan. We saw a Palestinian limping who’d been brought to the checkpoint by jeep; he told us that he had been beaten when he was caught going through a hole in the fence.
Nothing unusual happened. What we saw was the occupation routine.
06:10 'Azzun 'Atma checkpoint
Many people have already gone through the checkpoint. About 70 people wait in line.
Sixteen detainees wait at the entrance to the checkpoint – Palestinian laborers caught going through holes in the fence. Very few of them are older men. One asks for the bathroom – there isn’t one. Another says he was caught at 4 AM, and has been waiting since then for the soldiers to return his ID card so he can re-enter the village to go home. A soldier in an elevated position near the entrance holds a huge pile of Palestinian IDs, apparently belonging to Palestinians who went through holes in the fence. They’re given to another soldier who calls out the names and gives IDs to some of the detainees who return to the village. Belongings were confiscated from some people who were caught; the soldiers try to match the belongings with their owners’ descriptions.
There goes a day of work and a chance to make a little more money for the end of Ramadan.
A patrol jeep arrives with a new stack of IDs that are handed to the soldiers at the checkpoint. It turns out that the soldiers in the jeep catch those sneaking through the holes, confiscate their IDs and make them walk to the checkpoint. Some have been waiting since 4 or 5 AM but their IDs still haven’t arrived. A jeep arrives with another man who was caught – he isn’t able to bend his leg. He sits weeping. When we asked him what happened he told us that he had been beaten by the soldiers who caught him. Apparently that’s why he got a ‘treat” – a ride in the jeep – and didn’t have to walk on his injured leg.
06:45 Even though some of the detainees had been sent home, there are more now than there were half an hour ago: we saw them arriving on foot while we were at the checkpoint.
The checkpoint line is still long, apparently because a greater number of people cross on Sunday, but it begins slowly to shorten. The crossing rate is reasonable. A person who started at 06:15 went through in half an hour. We asked the soldiers to call a medic to examine the man who had been beaten. The medic didn’t find anything; apparently the man had only been bruised, but the medic went to get his ID so he could be released immediately. Meanwhile the man called an ambulance and sat waiting.
An additional trickle arrives of people who were caught and whose IDs were taken.
The soldiers said that when there are no more people leaving, they’ll send back those who were caught sneaking through. They also said that there were magnetic cards left by people who didn’t ask for them to be returned.
The injured man walked back to Palestine after resting for 20 minutes.
07:10 No more line. Now, after the IDs have been recorded, the detainees are allowed to return. Many laborers still wait outside for their employers.
07:30 Habla checkpoint
Quiet, no more line. Whoever arrives from either direction crosses quickly. The vehicle gate is open, which makes it easier for cars and carts to go through (the night watchman with his mule).
Few people in line; a car being inspected.
The gate is open, no entry restrictions.
The woodchat shrike again awaited us on the fence. Quiet and peaceful; only the fence blocks and disfigures the landscape. A man who arrived from Jayyus in a car crosses on foot; the car waits in the shade of an olive tree.