Barta`a checkpoint (all photos are from this checkpoint)
It’s Rosh Hashana Eve. Crossing at the checkpoint begins at 7 a.m. exactly (on Fridays and eve of holidays the checkpoint opens at 7 rather than 5 a.m.. That way the workday becomes even shorter). In all of my 8 years as a member of Machsomwatch monitoring the northern checkpoints, I have not seen the kind of sights one hears about monitored at the tougher checkpoints such as Qalandiya and Irtach. This time, hundreds of people crowded at the two turnstiles located at the Palestinian entrance to the checkpoint. In the left-hand turnstile (usually for people returning from Israel into the West Bank) 5 people were crowded into the space that is meant for a single person! At the right-hand turnstile to which a short and narrow “sleeve” is connected – youngsters climbed an jumped over the heads of the people crushed in the line. On the loudspeaker a female voice literally barked-shouted: “Don’t run!” Idit and I were in shock. We called Ron, deputy manager of the checkpoint, but he was not present at the site, and unlike him he was not willing to help. Our friend B., gentle and smiling, a veteran employee at the carpet factory in the Shahak industrial zone, was watching the chaos from the side. As I returned to the checkpoint at 9 a.m. (after taking leave of Idit at Kfar Kar’a as she hurried off to work), I met B. waiting on a bench at the end of the sleeve. We shared some experiences from the opening of this checkpoint, and then his ride came to pick him up.\
8:30 Tura-Shaked Checkpoint
Here everything was smoothly. A hitchhiker carrying bags, whom I picked up near Umm Reihan, crossed the checkpoint including the inspection room within 5 minutes, and even got another ride on the other side. Several cars crossed swiftly. At Barta’a Checkpoint it takes a Palestinian driver at least 20 minutes to cross into the very same “seam-line zone”. From here I proceeded to Umm Riha, a small, impoverished hamlet located on both sides of the main road leaving to Ya’abad and Jenin, in order to deliver a load of clothing (thanks to Idit and a friend from Kibbutz Yagur).
9:00 Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint
All the parking lots are full, the turnstiles empty, and I met B. on the other side.