'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana, Tura-Shaked
06:05 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint (left-hand photo: Still waiting)
The vehicle crossing is still closed and the guards direct us through the “No Entry” lane to the lower parking lot. There, on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint, the gate to the terminal is completely closed and many people crowd beside it. It turns out that the eve of a holiday is like Friday and Saturday. It opens at 07:00, not at 05:00 as on weekdays. Neither the Palestinians nor we had known. The checkpoint closes at midnight, as usual.
We didn’t wait for the checkpoint to open in order not to miss the opening of the ‘Anin checkpoint.
06:35 ‘Anin checkpoint
The checkpoint opens on time and we meet people who’ve already crossed to the seam zone, to their olive groves and other jobs. They say only about a dozen farmers came through this morning. Why? People don’t have permits.
07:00 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
The checkpoint is open and operating. The battered car of our acquaintance, the teacher, and a new 4X4 vehicle alongside it, wait to cross to the West Bank. Young pupils arrive and immediately cross to Tura. The teacher returns from the document check, enters his vehicle and goes through. After a few minutes the first man and woman cross from the West Bank to the seam zone. Few cross here; there may be other permit holders who didn’t use them today. There’s no doubt many would be happy to cross here every day to their fields and olive groves trapped in the seam zone, but the vast majority are required to use the designated agricultural crossings, open only twice a week. We know an excellent farmer from ‘Anin who’s given up trying to obtain a daily permit to access his fields through this checkpoint, abandoned his olives and now drives a taxi for a living.
07:40 On the way to the Tayibe-Rummaneh checkpoint we stopped for coffee and a fifteen minute break at a coffee shop in Umm el Fahm. Four local men are there; only one is aware there’s a checkpoint at the outskirts of his town. Up to now, every resident we’d met and asked insisted there was no such checkpoint. Umm el Fahm is a very large city.
08:00 We reached the checkpoint and…surprise, Border Police soldiers are already there and people have begun crossing (we’re used to the police arriving very late; the locals say sometimes they’re late, sometimes not). The DCL vehicle also arrived. About ten men and youths and four women and two tractors go through. One woman and five children aren’t allowed to cross, including a paralyzed boy in an electric wheelchair. The mother tells us that in order to cross with the children she must obtain a special permit from DCL Salem for a family visit to Umm el Fahm. The mother’s agricultural permit isn’t sufficient, nor the fact the children are listed in her ID card. That’s the “law” and the policemen have no discretion in the matter. The woman goes on and waves goodbye to her children who return home with their uncle who’d waited outside the checkpoint.
Photos: The boy in the electric wheelchair arrives at the Tayibe-Rummaneh checkpoint and is sent back home ten minutes later with his brother.