'Azzun, 'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Jayyus
The occupation routine. We were told that the northern Jayyus gate has been closed for the past two weeks as punishement.
06:20 Azzun Atma south – About 50 people wait to cross; many who have already gone through are clustered around improvised bonfires in the field across the way. The children selling coffee are walking around the checkpoint but disappear shortly after our arrival – heading to school? The women from EAPPI on the other side of the fence tell us that the gates at Jayyous have been closed for more than two weeks; they were to have opened last Sunday (tomorrow they’ll check to see whether they opened). They were told the reason for the closure was that tires were burned near the gate and then they weren’t able to open the lock! A soldier at the checkpoint tried to prevent us from talking to the women; his excuse was that we’re too close to the checkpoint, but we reassured him, saying that the checkpoint isn’t a closed military area. After finishing our conversation we returned to the place where we usually stand. The checkpoint operates “efficiently;” people go through quickly and by 7 AM the line has shortened. Fewer people are also waiting beyond the checkpoint; they’ve left for work. At one point two soldiers ran from the checkpoint (apparently trying to catch someone who went through a hole in the fence), yelling to other soldiers to close the checkpoint. They, however, continued working as usual and the checkpoint didn’t stop operating.
07:20 Habla – The school bus crosses. Many cars and carts cross in both directions, and there’s always a line of some 20 people which lengthens as the hour approaches 07:45 – not because the soldiers are working more slowly but because more people arrive. A female soldier opens the vehicle gate as necessary, all the while speaking on her telephone.
07:44 The gates closed; the soldiers bring through people whose ID’s they’d taken. Those who arrived later – about ten people – weren’t allowed through. In response to their complaints the soldiers said that yesterday they let people through until 09:00, which is impossible. They have to open other gates and expect people to arrive in time, before the gate is scheduled to close. That’s why they collect ID’s from everyone who’s on line at 07:45, but don’t allow anyone to cross who wasn’t there by then. One Palestinian said they collected the ID’s at 07:40, and those who arrived between 07:40 and 07:45 weren’t allowed through. What is true, however, is that the gates used to be open longer and the problems we now witness every week didn’t arise. One of the people crossing spoke perfect Hebrew; he greeted us saying “Have a pure, clear morning.” It was wonderful.
08:00 Eliyahu gate – Eight cars being inspected; three wait their turn. We drove via Izbet Tabib; there’s a narrow opening in the roadblock for cars to go through, like there was last week. There’s no roadblock at the exit from Azzun to Highway 55 but two jeeps are parked in the field by the exit.