Makkabim (Beit Sira), Ni'lin (Kiryat Sefer), Sun 16.3.08, Morning
Netania G, Tzipie A (reporting)
05:00 Makkabim Checkpoint
Dark outside. Strong lighting at the vehicle checkpoint, no cars yet passing. Scores waiting, crowded together at the entrance to the roofed over space waiting for the checks. At the entrance to the hut a soldier armed with rifle is stationed. He signals each time to the first in line to enter, bare his body, sometimes remove his shoes and then approach the soldiers slightly elevated booth. During passage it is forbidden to touch the concrete and plastic barriers placed alongside. Anyone touching will be detained for a period of time dependent on the arbitrariness of the soldier at the entrance. We saw one detainee exactly when he was being released to continue on his way.
The waiting point after the body check is at the end of the hut, a metre and a half before the soldiers’ booths. The ID checkers sit under a separate roof adapted to their protected booths. A male and a female. Again the one being inspected must stand and wait for instructions from the soldier, man or woman, sitting in the protected booth facing him. He waits, lifting his eyes to them, then presents his ID to one of them, but not before being asked.
"I told you to show the ID to her – not to me!"
The pedestrians passing the checkpoint are workers carrying a small lunch box or nylon bag with their food for the day. Another check station is there in order to inspect this "load." A metre and a half away sits another soldier inside a concrete cube, and his task is to check each person’s food items. "Chicken, I have chicken in the bag," says one of the workers to the soldier. As time goes on and the soldier gets fed up of sitting inside the cube, he comes out and stands beside it, and each one who passes now has to put his bag of food on the ground, then bend down to open it and show its contents.
People in the line complain to use about the problems of passing and the unnecessary checks. They tell us that they arrive early in the morning. The checkpoint opens at 05:00 and is sometimes late. The waiting and inspection time per person is about one hour. One of them indicated the many barbed wire fences, close to the inspection hut, and asked: "Is this the way human beings are supposed to wait?"
Up the slope above the checkpoint there is a military Hummer. It is lit. It’s still dark. A number of women in traditional dresses are sitting at a distance from the "transport station". They speak Arabic to us.
In the Transits by the roadside are a number of passengers waiting for the rest so the vehicle can fill up and set off for their workplaces.
06:00 Ni'lin (Qiryat Sefer)
Driving on Route 446, after we passed the entrance to Modi'in Elit, we saw a lot of Transits. On both sides of the road sat many who had already crossed the checkpoint and were waiting. When we arrived at the pedestrian checkpoint, 40 people were crowded together. Transit was very slow. At the checking station there was a military policeman. A soldier standing on the other side of the pedestrian checkpoint told us that people pass here at all hours of the day, not just in the morning, and that the check here is quick and "fair." Can a checkpoint be fair?
Here too, many fences alongside the checkpoint. A depressing sight amid the tranquil hilly scenery.
06:30 Makkabim Checkpoint
On our way back to Jerusalem, there was much traffic and the noise of fast moving cars and trucks on the road. We saw that many were still crowded at the entrance to the hut, and pedestrians were still arriving from the hills to enter the checkpoint.