'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Thu 31.10.13, Afternoon

Tzafrira Zamir, Neta Golan (Reporting) - Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham


14:50 – Reihan – Barta'a Checkpoint, Seamline Zone Side

When we arrive one of the drivers tells us: "The checkpoint is much better now."  We descend the sleeveinfo-icon together with the seamstresses, who appear pleasant and pretty after a day's work in the sewing factory just as they did in the morning.  Students going the other way are returning from the university for the weekend to Barta'a or other villages in Wadi Ara.   A few laborers are also returning.  One of them tells us that he had to get up at 02:00 in the morning  to get to Irtach by 04:00.  A young couple with a toddler and babyinfo-icon cross to the seamline zone.  The mother proudly pulls the baby's blanket aside so that we can see her baby girl.   As we ascend the sleeve two girls come down by themselves, and turn to speak with someone.  Evidently they are shouting to their father, who is a resident of West Barta'a in Israel.  The man is a Bedouin, originally from the southern part of the country and has a business stuffing pillows.   He is married to a Palestinian woman from ARabeh near Jenin for the past ten years and has been unable to receive a permit to unite his family.  His wife lives in ARabe with a son from a previous marriage and he lives in Barta'a with their  daugheters who are aged 9 and 7.   His sister helps him care for the girls.  Each Thursday he brings them to Reihan Checkpoint  and their uncle, their mother's brother, takes them to visit their mother.   Each Saturday they return to their father.  He claims that people can acuse him of being irresponsible, but he cannot cross the checkpoint with them at Reihan, only at Tul Karem or Jalameh, which are far away.   The girls must cross back to Israel at Tul Karem, and their father picks them up there and returns with them to Barta'a.   The girls go to an Israeli-Arab school in West Barta'a.  This is their usual life routine.     


Since we had spent time speaking with the girls' father and wished to get to A'anin checkpoint at 15:30 when it opens, we decided not to go to Shaked-Tura Checkpoint and drove directly to A'anin.


15:35 – A'anin Checkpoint


The checkpoint did not open on time, and about 30 men and women were waiting when we arrived.  The soldiers began getting organized to open the checkpoint at 15:40 and the checkpoint opened at 15:50.   After each group of people crosses a soldier closes the gate, but does not lock it.   People ask if the checkpoint will be open tomorrow, which is Friday.   According to the answer from the Liaison and Coordination Administration this morning, it will not be open.  One of the men reports that his second wife's permit arrived,  but her permit is for crossing at Barta'a Checkpoint and not A'anin.  A young girl, who spoke English, also told us that she received a permit for Barta'a checkpoint.  She was permitted to cross at A'anin and was told she would be permitted to come back there in the afternoon, but only today.  Other women arrive and cross. 

At 16:05 all crossing stops and soldiers begin running after a teenage boy.  They announce that there is an "incident".  We don't know whether it has to do with the youth or not.  The soldiers lock the gate at the center of the checkpoint.   The soldiers leave in a jeep and drive towards the seamline zone, locking the gate behind them.  We are told to ask the officer, who reports that  "we are dealing with people's lives here."  He promises the soldiers will return.  Meanwhile another 30 men and women arrive and wait in front of the locked gate.   At 16:30 we called the Liaison and Coordination Administration but no one knew what was happening except that there had been an "incident" and that the soldiers would be back in a few minutes. At 17:05 the checkpoint was still closed.  At the Liaison and Coordination Administration people told us that the soldiers were on their way back.   Ithey arrived at 17:10.  It is almost dark and a chilly wind is blowing.  One soldier opens the gate and the other one closes it again after each group of people enters.  A policewoman checks people's ID cards with a flashlight.  It is dark, and things go slowly.    By 17:40 everyone has crossed.  Some drive home on ther tractors, and others must walk home in the dark.  We are fortunate to drive home in our car.