Beit Amin, Checkpoint no. 1447
From afar we can see an unusual occurrence: three army vehicles, a large group of soldiers and military police. The checkpoint, which was supposed to open only at 7.45, was already open. Three soldiers were leading two Palestinians – a youth and an adult – away from the checkpoint and stopped them for questioning.
It turned out that they accused the youth of trying to climb over the fence. The adult accompanies them as interpreter. But the youth has a permit to cross to his family’s lands. Why should he steal across? An energetic kippa-wearing soldier begins to question us. Who are you? Why are you here? We tell him, and ask why the gate is open early today (perhaps to make up for yesterday’s tardyness…). The soldier asks, “Why should you care?” as he continues to rush around.
16 people come out, including a tractor and private cars. After them a taxi, perhaps, and a van. A group of young folk who have already gone through the the check stand talking. The same soldier shouts: “Anyone who has already got his permit must go – yalla, ruh…” with a wave of his hand.
A group of women and children who are on holiday from school go through to work in the hothouses. The lucky ones have a car. The rest begin the trudge of a few kilometers uphill to their lands.
We asked the Palestinians we met which gate was never opened. They show us gate no. 1464, which we pass on our way to 1447.
We take a passenger, an elderly woman from Azzun Atma, a widow, dragging herself to her lands – 5 kilometers there and 5 kilometers back each day. She tells us that this year she left half her olives on the trees because she is unable to carry the sacks to 1447 and she can’t afford to pay for a truck. Her one son supports a family of 17 and she can’t expect help from him. In addition she has 48 dunams inside Oranit, to which she has no access. Where did she learn her Hebrew? “Thirty years I worked as cook in an institute in Petah Tikvah,” she smiles. Today she is going to prune her trees and do weeding.
THE PALESTINIANS‘ REPEATED REQUEST: Open gate no.1464, which has never been opened, and no.1473 which was indeed opened for a short while (both have large grey gates) to let us reach our lands more easily!
Sha’ar Shomron Checkpoint, 08.40. Traffic is flowing. Three cars in the checking yard.
Izbet Tabib, 09.00. Yesterday (Monday, 11.1.16) they placed a new barrier on the dirt road to the village. Three soldiers were on guard all night at the yellow gate. They were afraid of theft.
We meet M. and are invited to his home. The house that they have struggled to build over 10 years has received a demolition order.
M. was refused a permit by the Security Service until the end of 2015, accused of organizing demonstrations against house demolitions in the village -- non-violent, of course. We members of Machsomwatch have participated In many of the demonstrations, and we have sat with the Palestinians in their protest tent a number of years. He is asking for a permit to go to hospitals in Israel for medical treatment that his daughter needs.
Now the state is planning to build a road bypassing Nebi Elias, for the settlers. For this purpose they have appropriated 17 dunams from villagers. The plan is also to take land from Azzun and Nebi Elias, altogether 93 dunams. The length of this apartheid road will be only 2.7 kilometers.
In the letter he holds in his hand, the Civil Administration promises that in the fence there will be gates enabling the Palestinians access to their lands and also compensation of 1,200,000 shekels for the confiscated lands. Lawyer Liora explains to M. that this obligation must be fulfilled, but M. says that if we take the money this means that we agree to the confiscation and the building of the road.
Khirbet Aslah, 10.00. Checkpoint no. 1231 opens only twice a day, for only a short while, sometimes for less than 10 minutes. According to the villagers it opens at irregular times. At one time it opened three times a day. Now it is supposed to open in the morning 7.45-800. This is too late because the farmers want to begin working at 6.00.
We stopped at a small restaurant with excellent food. The owner worked in Herzliya in the Mi vaMi restaurant. He also knew the Israeli prison. It was claimed that he was a Hamas member; that was the only charge against him. But politics don’t interest him. All he wants is to feed his children. A child with a sweet smile quickly came to help him when he saw us enter.
On the way out we met H., who has a blue I.D. He owns lands next to the gate but his permit to cross is only from Sha’ar Eliyahu, the furthest possible from his land. We promise to check with Sylvia if there is some way to help.