O7.00 – 07.30 Tura-Shaked Checkpoint
The soldiers arrive on time, the checkpoint opens, and as usual we stand at the entrance to the “sleeve” (the wire-netting corridor whose function is to guide those passing through the checkpoint to the West Bank and from there to the seam-line zone), as if they were animals and not human beings). Two soldiers rush towards us like arrows shot from a bow. Their spokesman says irritably, “what are you doing here? We are busy dealing with the kidnapped boys and you come here to fawn on the Palestinians!”
Would there have been any point in reminding him of the Palestinian youngsters whom our soldiers haul out of their beds at night, tie them up and abduct them somewhere, without telling their parents where they are, interrogate and beat them, and afterwards free them and throw them out in some unknown locality ? Would there have been any point in telling him that I worry about my nephew, who is serving in an elite unit and is engaged in searching for the kidnappers, perhaps also pulling youngsters out of their beds ? My heart feels like a ping-pong ball.
The Palestinians come from the West-bank, and, after a crowded wait of about 15 minutes near the turnstile, come out quietly and not agitated, like tamed sheep : “The soldiers shout a bit, but everything is fine.“
07.45 – 8.30 Barta’a-Reihan
There isn’t any reminder of a warning about the general closure (of the occupied territories). Also, our feeling that there are fewer people coming from the west-bank doesn’t match the conclusion of a taxi-driver who is waiting to transport them. Everything is normal.
We descend through the fenced “Sleeve” to the exit from the terminal which leads to the seam-line zone. The traffic is orderly, as usual. At first only one inspection-window is open, but after a few minutes another on opens. There isn’t any perceptible pressure. One of those coming out tells us about S., a big merchant from Barta’a, who although he is equipped with permits both to Israel and to Barta’a, is being held up at the terminal for a long time every day. We try to wait for him. One of the security guards tells us that S. should go to the civil administration office at Salem, but the girl at the inspection window tells us that he has already left. Although she gives us an indicating mark how to identify him, it is apparently inaccurate.
The coffee-cart, which has been upgraded to a coffee-bar, is in a big shipping-container located beyond the “sleeve’s” fence. It is covered with elongated “bricks” painted like wood, and has big windows. Apparently the business is profitable. The Palestinians prefer the coffee here, and perhaps also the snacks here are more attractive than at Hani's in the shed.
Are we seeing the start of a new concept, and the rights of the first-comer, when this checkpoint becomes an official crossing-point between Israel and Palestine?