'Anin, Reihan, Shaked, Mon 4.2.08, Morning
Anna NS, Neta G. (reporting)
An obviously unreasonable day at Aanin Checkpoint
06:05 Aanin Checkpoint
The gates are open. The first man comes out. At 06:10 the second emerges. Bad sign for the pace of passage.
Some 120 people crowding in the checkpoint compound, between the entrance on the Aanin side and the centre. Considerable melee: from time to time people come close to the middle gate and are driven back by the soldiers.
06:25 – only six people have passed till now. Another Hummer arrives. The soldiers say they have come to help. To our amazement, we assumed they had come to help with the checking, but no – with security.
06:35 – the checkpoint commander explains to us what is happening: last Thursday people were given their number on the lists of permit holders which the soldiers hold, so that it will be easier to find and mark them. Some of the people don’t remember their numbers and have to be located by ID number, in addition to which the lists are not up to date, and not all the permit holders appear on them. The soldier says that the army is trying to improve the method because the checkpoint will be here for many more years (?).
07:05 – one of the Hummers departs and a jeep arrives instead. People are losing patience and passing through the middle gate. The soldiers send them back and close the gate, leaving only a narrow slit through which to pass. Two soldiers stand guard on the gate. The jeep leaves.
Anna stays at the checkpoint while I drive to Shaked Checkpoint.
07:25 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
Perhaps 20 people waiting on the Tura (West Bank) side to be checked in the hut. Schoolchildren cross from the Seam Zone to Tura quickly. Soldiers peer into their satchels.
A large taxi arrives from the Seam Zone, is inspected quickly and continues on into the West Bank. The passengers are seven woman students who have an exam this morning, two mothers and one father with toddlers, all waiting to be checked in the hut. The wait is prolonged, and the students are nervous.
08:05 – two students are still waiting to be checked. The checkpoint commander says that people crossing to the West Bank must also be checked in the hut. The DCO promises to clarify, and meanwhile the student women pass.
A woman teacher from the West Bank, who works at Um el Reichan school, has her crossing permit confiscated. The school principal tries to help her, but it’s hopeless. The commander contends that the teacher has not returned through the checkpoint on a number of occasions.
The phenomenon of confiscated permits has become an expectation at Shaked Checkpoint. We later heard that Major Bassam from the DCO at Salem has met with the head of Tura Council to discuss the issue.
08:20 Aanin Checkpoint
There are now two Hummers and a jeep at the checkpoint. Many people are still waiting between the fences. Soldiers are guarding the middle gate, two with drawn weapons on the concrete barrier and two more guarding the fence next to the earthen mound. From time to time, two teams are checking in parallel, but the passage time remains very slow. A few people are delayed by the barriers. The soldiers send two detainees back to the village. One doesn’t get up fast enough so the soldier grabs his arm. The soldier shouts to his partner in charge of the gate "throw him out!"
09:00 – people are still waiting between the fences. They are taken in by fives. Most of the detainees and those without permits – perhaps 15 in all – are sent back to the village. Two, manacled and blindfolded, remain by the concrete barriers.
09:20 – finally all the lucky ones are through. One of the detainees sent back to the village has left behind a red bag, and a soldier brings it to him. The two handcuffed and blindfolded youngsters ask to urinate. The soldier uncovers their eyes and leads them aside, one at a time. Afterwards the blindfold is replaced.
09:30 – the gates are locked. The checkpoint commander answers our questions: one of the handcuffed youngsters had a forged ID card, and the other tried to sneak into the Seam Zone without a permit, after the soldiers ordered him back to the West Bank. Both were arrested and would be brought for medical examination and detention in Salem. According to the police commander in Salem, the families need to be informed about their arrest. When we said that they are not always informed, he promises to remind them about the correct procedure.
The checkpoint commander did not know the exact number that has passed through this morning. According to him about 100 were counted and had their IDs marked . The names of others not on the list were written down. He understands that the situation is not reasonable, and has invited the DCO people to come to the checkpoint to try and improve the procedures, but they had not arrived this morning. He hopes that they will come on one of the Mondays or Thursdays in the near future...
09:45 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
One of the drivers in the upper parking lot says that 30 permits have recently been confiscated at Shaked Checkpoint.
09:55 – in the lower (Palestinian) parking lot many drivers are waiting to make a living which is not attainable. One man passes and three drivers jump up at him. He does not need their services because he is travelling in the taxi that has brought him from East Bartaa.
10:10 – three cars and a tractor are waiting at the vehicle checkpoint. A pickup loaded with sheep and three loaded vans are waiting to be checked. We leave.
On the way home we hear about the explosion in Dimona...