'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tura-Shaked
Rachel V., Vera M. (reporting))
A surprise awaits us at this quiet checkpoint (there are only a few cars, a truck and people who are crossing in the Palestinian direction): the garbage container and even its surroundings are clean!
A soldier approaches us and politely asks who we are. We praise the long overdue cleaning initiative. The cleaners are two Palestinians – father and son. The father is a pleasant person and he tells us about his and his family’s efforts to secure a better life. He works as a cleaner at several checkpoints and he also has a modest family business in his village. He asks for our help to find out why one of his sons is denied entry to Israel. The only thoughts that came to his mind were a deep sadness about the existing situation and what could happen if the occupation were to end.
A mass of workers is returning home, and the employers’ vehicles almost completely block the entrance to the car-park. The people are all hurrying. Some of them are young and energetic, and others who are older are slower; there are a few women. At the entrance to the “sleeve” (a long passageway enclosed by wire netting) which leads to the terminal, an additional drinks facility and an automatic soft-drink vending machine have been placed. The “coffee and pastry” station, owned by the local settler, is closed. The side of the “sleeve” beside the checkpoint building is sealed by corrugated-iron sheets, a container, and concrete blocks. We don’t understand the meaning of this. A man marching in the direction of the terminal surprises us with a fragrant bunch of wild narcissus. We are so surprised that we don’t even manage to thank the man, who has already vanished in the crowd. We photograph the flowers in a moment of forgetfulness of where and who we are. The security guards angrily jump on us: “It’s forbidden to photograph!” they shout. But we describe what happened to us and they leave us alone. We offer the narcissus to a woman on the way to the turnstile.
At the entry to the terminal there is a big crowd. Three out of the four inspection windows are working, but slowly. We measure the waiting time in the queue: it’s 15 – 20 minutes, which is a long time for someone who is returning from a day’s work. Many people complain and point out that there are long queues in the morning also.
As Rachel wrote in one of the last reports: “There are many people returning from the olive harvest, and many of them are young. The atmosphere is 'togetherness.'” They load many full sacks onto a tractor’s trailer. There is also a genuine white donkey.
Everyone has returned by 17.00. The soldiers tell us that the checkpoint is open until 17.00, not 19.00 as we had thought.