ברטעה-ריחן, טורה-שקד, טייבה-רומנה, עאנין
06:07 Barta’a/Reihan checkpoint
Why make it easy on people if you can make it hard on them?
The checkpoint was quiet when we arrived, no people. A few laborers sit in the nearby shed waiting to go to their jobs in Harish. According to their crossing permit they may go through only at 06:30, and even though they arrived early, and the checkpoint is empty – they won’t go through but must wait for the time noted on their documents. Things are organized here.
06:15 A number of jitneys arrived suddenly and dozens of younger and older men emerged. It grew congested at the gate but the line moved. The security company at the checkpoint has turned the occupation into a well-oiled machine. Under its management the checkpoint opens on time and every delay or breakdown has an explanation.
An innovation: trucks with agricultural produce no longer wait (from the previous night) on the road to Jenin but rather in a special parking area near the vehicle compound.
06:30 ‘Anin checkpoint
Whywaste the Palestinians’ time? Wait – why not?
The checkpoint is closed, no soldiers. The farmers wait below on the village side. A phone call to the DCL – they don’t know what happened. Another call – now they know: the soldiers are delayed at Checkpoint 265, at A’arqa village, “they’ll be there.” They arrived half an hour late, and the crossing opened at 07:05. Two tractors and more than ten people on foot - all crossed in 15 minutes. Whatever the reason for the frequent delays opening the agricultural gates, the most powerful/smartest/most moral army in the Middle East isn’t able to adhere to its own timetable. And that’s because no one cares about Palestinians and their rights. They’re only an annoyance.
A resident of ‘Anin approached us; he works as an electrician in Barta’a. His commercial permit (tajar) has expired a week ago but they let him cross anyway. Very nice. The permit renewal is stuck somewhere between the Palestinian and Israeli DCLs, and tomorrow or the next day he probably won’t be able to go to work. We helped this nice guy a year ago to claim his right to work in the seam zone. It took a very long time, during which he slept outdoors in the olive groves and sometimes didn’t get home for days.
07:20 Tura/Shaked checkpoint.
Two lovely first-grade girls look straight at us and demand: Tofi! Tofi? [candy]. I’m reminded that once, during a tour through remote Turkish villages the guide begged us not to give children money or candy. They haven’t yet been spoiled, he said. But if I’d had candy I’d have given it to them, because I’m a grandmother who loves sweet smiles.
They won’t fool us.
A surprise. The Border Police arrived five minutes early. The soldier who seems to be in charge went to open the gate and at the same time learned what MachsomWatch is. But our joy was premature. On the other side of the checkpoint we observed again the shameful display we’d already seen a number of times, and not only here: The lock at the gate won’t open. The checkpoint locks rust easily, especially because the gates open only twice weekly… The Palestinian tractor driver (as usual) removed the hammer from his toolbox and gave it to the Border Police soldier. He accepted it. We’ve already seen soldiers adamantly refuse this humanitarian assistance and prefer to bang the lock with a rock. Here they banged and hit and pounded the lock until they fractured and demolished it and the crossing opened: two tractors and more than 15 people on foot went through. One man was sent back. He has a permit, K., the Border Police soldier, explained to us politely, but dressed like that – he can’t fool us, he’s not on his way to work his land. Don’t you agree?