Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana, Tura-Shaked
06:10 Barta’a/Reihan checkpoint
Palestinians come in groups to the Palestinian parking lot from which people from the West Bank proceed to the terminal. They move without delay to the revolving gate but are stopped at the terminal entrance. About 80 people are stuck in the sleeve leading to the terminal. An elderly man complains angrily that it’s been like this recently. He says it takes an hour or more to go through. A young man confirmed what he said. At 06:20 people began moving into the terminal, very slowly. We had to leave in order to reach the other checkpoints.
People start going through at 07:05. Schools are on winter vacation, and in the absence of pupils and teachers the only ones crossing are a few laborers going from the West Bank to the seam zone.
At the checkpoint, operated by the Border Police, are two vehicles – the Border Police jeep and the DCL’s Toyota. We were glad to see that this time the authorities finally arrived on time. Our joy didn’t last longer than five minutes: the two vehicles left, first the jeep, then the Toyota. Of course, the Palestinians waiting on the other side of the closed checkpoint received no explanation. Our attempt to ask a soldier who’d gotten out of the Toyota for a moment what was going on was unsuccessful. We’re being boycotted.
09:20 Seventy minutes later a jeep finally arrived with a number of Border Police soldiers. During the long wait for them we spoke three times by phone with the Salem DCL which promised us each time that the soldiers were on their way and that there are “problems on the route.” Two female and one male soldier came toward our side of the gate to opened the lock and chain. They ignored our `good morning’ and our question of why they arrived so late. They were very focused on the lock and the key and didn’t reply. Then they turned and moved away. One of the female soldiers ran the crossing; we haven’t seen such rude, coarse behavior at the checkpoints in a long time. Even from afar we could hear how she sends people away with the exquisite Arabic employed by soldiers who know only Hebrew: Get out of here, yalla, go home – to a woman with two children. Her body language was equally ugly. The father, who’d brought them in his car, came over to plead with the soldiers: the unforgivable and intolerable sight of a middle-aged man begging and requesting consideration for his daughter and her children, facing indifferent soldiers lording it over him. One of the people going through told us the woman has a permit to go through the Barta’a checkpoint and for some reason wanted to cross here. Nu, that’s really chutzpah on her part and so she must be rudely embarrassed and turned away from the checkpoint. Good for the female Border Police soldier and her colleagues, none of whom bothered to calm her down.
Two tractors and about 25 people went through, including farmers carrying tiny olive seedlings. Angry at the long wait. The soldiers hate us, one said. Jews and Arabs will never live in peace. Never.
We waited for the Border Police soldiers to lock the gate and approached them. The female soldier heard briefly what we thought of her shameful behavior. She grinned. In embarrassment, perhaps?