'Azzun 'Atma, Habla
It’s sad to see all the harassment and delay that interferes with people’s lives when all they want is to earn a living. Delays opening the gates, no end to injurious behavior. Pupils returning from school cross back to their homes in the seam zone.
‘Azzun ‘Atma gate – Oranit, No. 4
The “rest stop” near the gate
Hours: Morning, 07:45-08:10, afternoon, 12:30-1245, evening, 17:30-17:45.
12:00 The gate is closed, no one’s around except for laborers on the security road. There’s a couch to sit on near the gate while waiting. It’s amazing that solutions are improvised everywhere when a need arises – a couch, someone selling something to people coming or going. I wonder whether the children selling coffee come here in the morning from the decommissioned ‘Azzun ‘Atma gate. A few minutes later a horse and rider arrive, a tractor pulling a trailer with harvested vegetables, male and female laborers and a car with passengers. All arrive from north of the gate. They live in ‘Izbet Salman (north of ‘Azzun ‘Atma) and to reach their fields they must travel a few kilometers to ‘Azzun ‘Atma, go through the gate and then return about five kilometers to their fields which are near another gate in the fence, No. 1447, which isn’t open. Why? Because.
It’s hard for them, and annoying, to be unable to reach their fields directly. One of them, an older man, says only his home is in the village. His land, what’s left of it after the rest has been taken for Oranit and for the fence, is located beyond the fence. “How can we live like this,” he said. At 12:40 the jeep arrives and then a second at 12:45. The gate opens at 12:47. A group of people and cars already waits on the other side and slowly come through. A car and its owner arrive, arguing with the soldiers, apparently about two children who came with him, it seems they haven’t permits to go through, and finally the driver turns around very angrily and returns with the children who watched sadly what was happening. A donkey cart that came to the checkpoint was also left in Palestine, while a boy, maybe 12 years old, coming from the direction of Oranit with a donkey cart loaded with large, empty plastic bottles, is inspected by the soldiers who decide, after a discussion, to let him through. What luck. On the other hand, at Habla later they weren’t allowed through with their load. The gate closed at 13:00.
13:20 Habla checkpoint, Gate 1392. The gate is about to open.
Hours, for now: Morning, 06:30-07:30, afternoon 13:15-14:15, evening 15:55-16:55. Cf. the notice on the gate regarding the hours – glorious creativity and improvisation.
It opens a little late. Five carts loaded with secondhand goods, coming from the area of the plant nurseries, wait at the Habla gate – broken plastic chairs, old mattresses and used clothing. The soldiers don’t let them through. Many arguments with A., the MP, who, everyone complains, makes it difficult for people to go through. He made one carter remove all the old clothes from a bag and spread them on the ground but still didn’t permit him to cross with his “merchandise.” The argument with the carters becomes loud and a female soldier yells “Don’t annoy me, go back, stop, get out of here, leave.” That’s when the Palestinians insist on what they want, to go through. They say only electrical equipment is forbidden. Finally the carters gave in, turned back, stored their “goods” somewhere and came back with empty carts and were then permitted to cross. Again they complained about the MP, saying when he’s not there the soldiers behave more humanely and allow them to bring things through.
One cart carrying harvested sheaves of oats was allowed through after A. inspected it carefully. What could they be carrying, after all? All he lets through are seedlings and grasses. Lucky they allowed a flock of sheep/goats through. We were told they have a permit.
One man arrived with a cute girl, about ten years old, disappeared into the citrus grove and returned after about 20 minutes with a crate of lemons the father carried while the girl held some flowers in her hand. At least they managed to complete their task before the gate closed.
13:45 The school bus returns from Habla to ‘Arab Ramadin.