'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Falamiya, Habla, Tue 10.9.13, Morning
A quiet day, pleasant weather, no congestion at any checkpoint – the occupation routine, the system ticking along. People go through the Azzun Atma checkpoint: take off your belt, take out your belongings, place them on the concrete wall off to the side, ID on the scanner, finger on the second scanner and – OK – collect everything, put the belt back on and continue to “freedom.” Freedom for what? To look for work as a day laborer, for meager pay? Hope to find someone who’ll hire you, be disappointed when you don’t?
06:05 Azzun Atma checkpoint. A “fabric of life” crossing, open all day.
Many people already waiting, about 30 workers at the Hanson company returning from the night shift. Crossing is quick; whoever arrives – people keep coming – crosses in minutes. A car comes from the Israeli side with someone who lives in Azzun Atma and goes through.
Four new children selling coffee, none of them members of the family that had sold here for the past two years. The line lengthens from time to time and then shortens. The same routine: take off your belt, take out your belongings, place them on the concrete wall off to the side, ID on the scanner, finger on the second scanner and – OK – collect everything, put the belt back on and continue to “freedom.”
It turns out that the children with the coffee came from Azzun Atma through holes in the fence. At 07:00 they’ll go to school. They appear to be 8-10 years old.
At one stage a soldier approaches the groups waiting outside the gate and checks their IDs. One man was “caught;” he has a blue Israeli ID card and went through the fence. He’s immediately released.
07:00 Habla checkpoint. An agricultural gate, open two hours in the morning and an hour in the afternoon and evening.
It’s quiet, the line short – the gate should open at 06:30. The usual arrangement: someone keeps order, is argued with occasionally, five wait in front of the revolving gate to the inspection area.
We gave Sylvia’s phone number to a man whose son has been blacklisted from entering Israel. The father says the son has five children; he himself has a work permit. He hopes his son can be helped and be able to support his children.
The line doesn’t get any shorter. The girls’ school bus arrives at 07:30, stops, waits for inspection. A mule cart exits from the West Bank; many ride bicycles. The soldiers come through the gate to inspect the bus. Two people who appear very young who came on the bus but who have ID cards are taken off and sent to the inspection station. The bus goes through. Cars arrive and cross to the plant nurseries. The line has disappeared; whoever arrives crosses immediately. The boys’ bus arrives, is inspected and crosses. We drive on.
Eliyahu gate. It’s open all the time for crossing to Israel from the West Bank, used by Israelis and Palestinians with permits for the seam zone.
Few Palestinians on line for inspection.
Falamya checkpoint. An agricultural gate, open during daylight hours.
Quiet. The only change is that the lemon grove has been fenced. Not by the IDF, that’s for certain. A tractor crosses, a driver and two workers, and then turns around and returns. The workers got off, continued on foot, but the driver had forgotten his permit. He’s from Jayous, calls his son to bring the papers – what luck he has a phone in his pocket.
No one appears to be working on preparations for the new border fence.
A tractor arrives, loaded with sacks – feed for sheep – enters for inspection. Soldier: What is it? Do you have a permit from the DCO? How many kilos? He doesn’t have a DCO permit in hand. The tractor is sent to wait outside the fence, the soldiers check with the DCO.
The owner of the first tractor that’s waiting tells us his lands are located beyond the horizon and will remain outside the fence; he appears frustrated and angry. After about 20 minutes his son arrives on another tractor, brings the papers and the father crosses. After about 25 minutes the tractor with the feed is still waiting for the DCO’s authorization. We return to Israel.