'Azzun 'Atma, Habla
A regular morning shift in the occupied territories. At Habla, the coffee children who had risen very early to help support their families were not allowed to cross the checkpoint. They have been selling their coffee for years, so why this change of routine? Again, in a random conversation with one of the people from ‘Azzun-‘Atma we were told a story about the expropriation of agricultural land.
The road leading up to the checkpoint was blocked by a movable fence so the Palestinians could enter and exit only through the covered area. The line was long, and as usual in a pressured situation like this, people lost their patience and started shouting.
One of the soldiers warned us and prevented us from approaching the fence. He claimed we would cause excitement and problems in the line. The soldiers were new and thought they were the bosses of the world, not only of the checkpoint.
Again, the coffee children were not allowed to cross in order to sell their cups of coffee for a shekel. We saw one of the children standing close to the fence trying to sell us his coffee as usual, but unfortunately we were not permitted to reach him at the fence.
There were about 80 people waiting in line. As far as we could see they were sent back like in the days of Huwwara. "Move back!" People did not really obey but the order caused resentment. We wondered if the order was given because of our presence, but after a short while people were let through again. The car gate was also locked, so it had to be opened and relocked each time a worker with equipment crossed.
The soldiers insisted, quite politely, that we stand behind the fence blocking the access to the road.
06:50 The line was still long, but people were calmer and shouting less.
A bus from Habla was waiting for the teachers to cross the checkpoint in order to drive them to the school in Arab-Ramadin. There was no line at the checkpoint and those who arrived crossed without delay.
07:20 The bus driving the children from Arab-Ramadin to the school in Habla crossed.
07:45 The line was long. According to the new procedure, the drivers drove their cars outside the checkpoint to park them on the Israeli side. Then they walked back to the checkpoint to have their ID cards checked. It was quite a surrealistic sight.
08:00 Everybody had passed. The gate was being closed. Two people from our side arrived, but the gate was already closed and they didn't ask to be let through.
We spoke with a few people who were sitting in the pump building drinking their tea. The pump is still working on diesel. One of the people said: "I had 12 dunams of agricultural land. Israel took the land from me. I turned to the High Court of Justice which ruled that the land be returned to me. But then 9 dunams were expropriated by the state (evidently because of the fence) and 3 dunams were returned to me." He is too old to work his land, and his sons do not get permits to access the land, so in the end his land was not really returned to him and his loss was complete.
The new road bypassing the fence already reaches one end of the old road. It's all covered with tarmac and almost completed. There is still quite a large opening in the fence and no work seems to be going on, but most of the new fence/wall is completed.