'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana, Tura-Shaked

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Rony Shalit and Shula Bar(reporting), Shula Bar (photographing)

Translator:  Charles K.


The occupation’s clock has only one hand.


Photos: Barta’a checkpoint.  1) Trucks with cargo wrapped in plastic.  2) Emerging from the terminal’s fenced lanes.


06:00  Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint

Fifteen trucks laden primarily with agricultural produce, arriving from throughout the West Band to east and west Barta’a and apparently to localites in Wadi ‘Ara as well, have waited since last night.  The drivers spent the night here, of course, to save precious time in the morning.  Who’ll repay them for the time they lost last night?  The merchandise on the trucks is wrapped in blue plastic and/or heavy canvas.  Wrapping the produce (in the fields) and unwrapping and then rewrapping it (during inspection) takes a long time (the Palestinians’ time). 

06:10  Vans, taxis and cars arrive one after another and unfathomable numbers of passengers emerge…all hurry to the gate.  To the terminal.  To work.  In the morning every minute is important.  The revolving gate at the terminal entrance opens and closes intermittently, but there’s no line yet.

The usual confusion in the upper parking lot:  a flow of workers leaving the terminal – heading for their rides.  Dozens of vans coming and going, others waiting for passengers.  Many people buying coffee from the kiosk run by the settlers; we don’t see the Palestinian coffee seller who in any case was forced to move some distance away from where the Jews are making money.  We walk down to the terminal.  Empty coffee cups underfoot everywhere and the Palestinian garbage man moves through collecting them.  Some people tell us “everything’s OK” today, someone says “Problems, problems, always problems.”  People seem to be going through quickly.


06:40  ‘Anin agricultural checkpoint

The checkpoint is supposed to open at 06:30, and the DCL’s white Toyota is, in fact, inside the checkpoint.  The soldiers and the keys to the gatesinfo-icon, on the other hand, aren’t here.  We telephone the DCL, a polite soldier replies there’s some problem and they’re on their way.  As he’s concluding with a “thanks for calling,” the soldiers show up with the keys.

06:45  A soldier opens the gate, the military vehicle enters the checkpoint area.  A soldier locks the gate, a soldier emerges from the vehicle and explains to the first one that the gate must remain open, the gate remains open and the vehicle rushes up the security road and disappears into the distance, far from the checkpoint…From the white Toyota we’re told:  he’ll be right back.  A few minutes later he is, the soldiers emerge and begin to work the checkpoint.

07:00  After a half-hour delay the first Palestinians go through the checkpoint.  A boy who came with his grandmother isn’t allowed to continue with her, apparently he isn’t listed in her ID card.  The boy turns around and obediently returns home.  The grandmother comes through the checkpoint and explains to us what happened, accepting the situation without complaint.  She tried, it didn’t work.  A Palestinian grandson can’t cross with his grandmother without signed papers.

Three tractors come through, and about fifteen people on foot.

07:15  We leave.  We aren’t able to see or hear whether more people are waiting.


07:17  Tura-Shaked checkpoint

The checkpoint is open, the soldiers in position, but nothing’s moving.  Seven empty cars are stuck at the entrance to the checkpoint, the drivers went to have their documents inspected and are delayed for no reason.  On the Palestinian side, next to the revolving gate, a loud argument.  The people waiting are upset.  The IDF’s computer is broken this morning also (for the third day in a row) and the female soldier, alone, with no help, records manually the data of those crossing.  The process proceeds in slow-motion.  Pupils, teachers, workers arrived on time (some two hours before the checkpoint opened), their time is precious, they’re stressed.  The occupation’s clock works slowly, with but one hand.  The drivers return to their cars and now raise the hoods, open doors and the soldiers fulfill their obligation and peek inside.  As if the bomb they expect to find (heading toward the West Bank, not toward Israel) sits on the back seat or in the trunk.  So much equipment at this small, crowded checkpoint – what good does it do?  Many people emerge annoyed and despairing.

By 07:35 the cars had crossed to Palestinian territory and only four people on foot went through to the seam zone.  We left at 07:40; there was still a line on the Tura side.


Tayibe-Rummaneh agricultural checkpoint (Gate 154)

We climb to the top of Iskander hill above Umm el Fahm (500 meters) and descend from there eastward to its base, to the agricultural checkpoint serving the residents of the neighboring villages whose access to their lands has been blocked by the security fence.  From here we are able to observe the checkpoint very well, and those waiting on the other side.  The checkpoint opens twice a week for half an hour in the morning (08:00) and afternoon (16:00), on the same days the ‘Anin checkpoint is open: Tuesday and Thursday.  When we arrived at 08:00 the DCL vehicle was already there but all the gates were closed and locked.  The Border Police arrive ten minutes late.  Later one of the regulars going through will say:  Yes, they’re late, it’s ok, they have problems, we have patience.  Palestinian time meets the occupation’s time.

By 08:30 two tractors and fifteen people on foot have crossed.  Cars aren’t allowed through here.  The Border Policeman closes the gate and we return home.

עד 8.30 עוברים 2 טרקטורים ו 15 הולכי רגל. מכוניות לא מורשות לעבור מכאן. המג"בניק סוגר את השער ואנו חוזרות הביתה.