06:00 ‘Anin checkpoint
Three tractors and about ten people on foot went through the checkpoint at 06:10. By 06:25 everyone had crossed. Most greet us very happily. The friendly relations we’ve developed (between Machsom Watch and the locals) are, of course, the result of our continued presence here over the years. That’s one of our goals, since we come to demonstrate, to empathize, to support and…to document. But that doesn’t go without saying. We’re not always greeted so warmly at checkpoints.
07:00 Baq’a al Gharbiyya checkpoint, Gate 526/101 (see photo)
The checkpoint is built into a wall six meters high separating eastern Baq’a and the Nazlat Issa neighborhood (in Palestinian Authority territory) from western Baq’a (in Israel). One entrance is for vehicles with permits; the other, via the revolving gate, is for pedestrians. The checkpoint is open from 7 AM to 10 PM. People haven’t yet begun going through because….though the soldiers have arrived the key to the gate hasn’t come. A frequent mishap at the checkpoints. Everyone waits.
A produce merchant from western Baq’a waits at the locked yellow electric gate for produce he receives every morning by truck from the West Bank. “This gate is a big deal for you” says [explains] a soldier to him in a tone reserved for old acquaintances. “You buy produce at Jenin prices [cheap] and sell them at Israeli prices [expensive]…” The merchant nods in embarrassment.
Two cars are also waiting, parents and children apparently on their way to school.
07:10 The key’s been found, halleluiah! The produce merchant crosses to the truck, begins loading crates of fruits and vegetables on his fork-lift. Now an irascible sergeant approaches us, tells us to leave: you’re not allowed to be here, nor take photos. He says he checked by phone; that’s what they told him. We tried to explain patiently what’s allowed and forbidden to us at the checkpoints but he didn’t really listen and certainly didn’t agree. We left when the time came.
08:00 Tayba-Rummana checkpoint
Seventeen people and a red tractor wait on the eastern side of the checkpoint (it’s an agricultural checkpoint permitting access to land cut off by the fence). That’s about the number which usually goes through here. The checkpoint opens for them twice a week for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the afternoon. Border Police soldiers are already here but they don’t lift a finger to open the gates. We telephone the DCL to find out why – they tell us another unit will arrive in a few minutes and then they’ll open it. One of the Border Police soldiers yelled some kind of explanation to the Palestinians (from a distance), in Arabic, in what seemed to us an unpleasant tone of voice. We heard one of those waiting telephone the humanitarian office to notify them of the delay.
08:10 The white DCL Toyota arrives. To open? No. We ask to speak to the policemen. They demonstratively ignore our request for an explanation. Again we telephone the DCL. Again the same response: it will open in a few minutes.
Twenty more minutes went by – a total of half an hour. Only at 08:30 did a third vehicle show up, a Border Police jeep, and the crossing opens.
The army explains to one of the people waiting, wearing a white cotton shirt, that it’s inappropriate attire for a farmer on his way to the olive grove. He went through, so he must have been able to convince the IDF that his intentions were agricultural.