'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana, Tura-Shaked, Ya'bed-Dotan
06:00 ‘Anin checkpoint
The checkpoint opened on time; about ten people and three tractors went through in 20 minutes. Why so few? Perhaps because the DCL isn’t hurrying to renew expired permits so that Palestinians will have to traverse the Via Dolorosa required to renew them. One farmer who crossed hypothesizes that it could be because there’s not much work now available in the olive groves – but we all know that’s not the reason. In any case, since the last olive harvest, in 2013, the number of people going through this checkpoint has steadily diminished, new crossing permits to the seam zone are not being granted and those which have expired are not being renewed. While this happens every year, it’s even more obvious this year.
Muhammad, from ‘Anin, was imprisoned in Israel for a few months (six years ago) because he was caught in Israel illegally (like dozens/hundreds of Palestinians who daily build and clean our country). He served his time but continued to be blacklisted by the police from entering Israel. Meanwhile, he has a job in eastern Barta’a; he wants to get a crossing permit for the Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint (which is open daily until late, and near his workplace), not just for ‘Anin (which is open only two days a week and far from his workplace). He says they’re not giving him the permit to go through the Reihan checkpoint to Barta’a (which is a Palestinian, not an Israeli, village) because he’s on the blacklist. Bottom line: No one at either the Palestinian or the Israeli DCL is willing to make an effort to fulfill his request and the occupation’s bureaucracy continues enthusiastically to wear down people like him. We referred him to Chaya; perhaps she’ll be able to assist him to fill out official forms requesting that he be removed from the police blacklist which might help him live under occupation.
Husni, the redhead, who has new glasses but whose tractor is still being repaired, also complains about the occupation’s bureaucracy. He hasn’t been blacklisted, doesn’t appear on any Shabak or police lists, but hasn’t been able to obtain an agricultural crossing permit for the Barta’a checkpoint. His land is near that checkpoint, which is open daily. “There’s no consistency; I’m successful once, but they refuse three other times.” He also runs back and forth between the Palestinian and Israeli DCLs, begs, requests, but they’re driving him crazy, offhandedly sending him from one to the other. Go, come. “My life will be a little easier if they let me cross there,” he says. From the occupation’s perspective, that’s an unacceptable benefit.
06:40 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint
The checkpoint seems to be operating like clockwork. Perpetual motion. It’s clear the only people who cross here are those with unquestionably valid permits. It’s important to remember that many others want to go through this checkpoint but aren’t able to obtain permits, and the occupation has a thousand reasons for denying a crossing permit to a local resident in his own country, his homeland. That’s the essence of the greatest injustice – denying the right of an occupied people to move freely from place to place in its occupied land. We come to the checkpoint to demonstrate against the denial of that right, have documented these harsh conditions, which are growing more complicated, for 13 consecutive years and also try to help the locals as much as possible.
Many vehicles wait in the checkpoint’s upper parking lot to transport workers coming from the West Bank, most of them on their way to the Palestinian side of Barta’a. Many commercial vehicles wait on the road on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, loaded with merchandise and agricultural produce, coming from the Jenin area and going to Barta’a and villages in the area. The merchandise is completely wrapped in plastic.
06:50 Ya’bed-Dotan checkpoint
No soldiers; the checkpoint is open. Though we knew it would be open we came anyway because we love the route (“Tuscany”). We may never see peace come but at least we’ve been able to travel through Palestine’s lovely landscapes. The tobacco fields are still green but they’ve already begun drying the leaves.
07:20 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
A small checkpoint, crammed with installations, structures, electrical equipment and apparatus and more and more unnecessary and superfluous security devices, and few people crossing (pupils and teachers are currently on vacation). Once this checkpoint operated very well with only an iron bar that was raised and lowered by a rope. Now the attempt to upgrade and make more efficient the crossing procedure has only made it more and more complicated and lengthier. People on foot move through metal sleeves; vehicles cross only after their driver has his ID checked at the booth and his existence confirmed until evening; and lo, 15 sheep guided by an old woman tailing them with a stick cross through the checkpoint on the main road without waiting for a signal from the soldier and without having to present an agricultural permit.
07:55 Tayba-Rummana checkpoint
The checkpoint opened early today (unlike previous long delays); Border Police soldiers run it. People crossing said that when we weren’t here the checkpoint didn’t always open on time. The Border Police soldiers say that if they don’t open the checkpoint on time there’s a good reason. Who asked for justice but didn’t get any?