04:50 Barta’a (Reihan) checkpoint
The very dark checkpoint is illuminated by artificial lighting. It’s a surreal sight: the workers (employed by a security company) run around, calling instructions to each other, each one goes to their station, last-minute preparations before opening.
Seven pickup trucks in the parking lot laden with agricultural produce from villages in the West Bank, intended primarily for Barta’a. The same number park on the road up to the vehicle checkpoint in the direction of the seam zone.
More than a hundred men and women crowd around the entrance to the checkpoint. Taxis continue arriving; more men and women get out, join the congested line. All wait for the gates to open.
05:00 The PA announces: Good morning; start coming through. The checkpoint opens; the mass of human pulp flows toward the gate – about 150 people. The security guard at the entrance tries to control the line. He admits a group of people, tries to block the others and shut the gate but they press against it and don’t allow it to close. Each side pushes against the gate. Noise, shouts, curses, tension – it’s very unpleasant. A few dozen seamstresses are in the crowd. The line lengthens. A man in the improvised section beneath the canopy where people worship who’s detached from what’s going on prays fervently, then takes his lunch bag and quietly joins the line. More and more taxis arrive, unload their human cargo quickly, return for other people, again and again.
People “flow” in quickly (after coming through the yellow gate): they go through the revolving gate and immediately run to the entrance of the inspection area. At one point the security guard announces: “Bas banat! Women only.” A few dozen seamstresses enter, many fewer than I remember from previous times.
05:30 Now it’s much less congested. Those who came through first can be seen in the upper fenced corridor heading out of the terminal to their rides. Those emerging say it’s crowded and congested inside the terminal as well.
Rain begins. Those who came through the checkpoint wait for their co-workers or for their employers/transportation. Everyone crowds together under the covered end of the fenced corridor which isn’t big enough to shelter all of them from the increasing gusts of rain.
06:00 ‘Anin agricultural checkpoint
The checkpoint is open, soldiers already there, opening the gate to the lower checkpoint (on the village side); the few people leaving walk up the road. I see an argument, accompanied by vigorous gestures, between the soldiers and one of the laborers who’s respectfully sent back to the village.
A tractor exits pulling a miserable, frightened donkey which isn’t cooperating. I ask the driver to untie him; he hands the rope to another man who’s coming through the checkpoint. The man says only 4-6 people are waiting to cross to the seam zone.
06:30 Those few who were waiting have gone through; the checkpoints close. In view of the stormy weather we decide to forgo travelling to the Tura checkpoint, which will open only in half an hour,