'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana
6:05 Barta’a Checkpoint
Large numbers of young workers, and a small minority of older ones, are racing toward the lower parking area, on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. They join the line to enter the terminal.
More and more workers are making their living in Israel and must pass through this checkpoint. Now and again the line stops moving (both lines seem “too” quiet) and in those intervals it rapidly grows longer. According to Iyad, the usher, at its peak the line was 250-300 people long. Iyad is approached by people with questions and requests, so he’s become an authority figure, much more than an usher. He tells us that last week there was a malfunction in the terminal and the line was stuck for an hour, causing hundreds of people to have to wait until 8am to get through.
We were happy to see our friend Walid again. Two weeks ago he got married and left his bachelor’s apartment in Barta’a for his home in Zabda. He travels back and forth through the checkpoint each morning and evening. “How is life, Walid?” “Praise God.”
There are many cars around the checkpoint, parked along the sides of the road, on the slope of the nearby hill, on the Palestinian Authority side, and on the side of the Occupation.
6:40 ‘Anin Checkpoint
The checkpoint is opened by reservist soldiers, more than 30 minutes late. At 07:15 people begin to move through the checkpoint in numbers greater than we’ve been used to seeing. They greet us warmly, wishing us a pleasant morning and asking how we are. For a moment it feels as though peace has already come. But then we’re reminded of why our presence here is important. The three women we’ve met two weeks ago approach us and ply us with questions (You don’t work? How do you live?).
The number of people passing through the checkpoint has grown but that fact that they are limited to just two days per week is an example of the way all Palestinians, not just the farmers, have been robbed of their right to enter and move through their lands, both in the Palestinian Authority territory and that under Israeli occupation.
8:05 Taibe Romana Checkpoint
An agricultural checkpoint in the eastern foothills of Umm al-Fahm
Some 50 people are waiting on the Palestinian side. The Border Police are 5 minutes late opening the checkpoint. Today they take everyone’s identification, (perhaps?) check them, (perhaps?) verify them, and then call each person by name. One by one the Palestinians approach to get their documents back. Occupation games.
Here, too, we are greeted warmly and a few women pause to chat and satisfy their curiosity. The man who once said to us “I was born under occupation, I live under occupation and I’ll die under occupation,” passes by and says with a cynical smile: “well, the occupation is still here…”
We give an older woman and her two grown daughters a ride to the al-Midan neighborhood of Umm al-Fahm. We chatted during the 10-minute ride and though we didn’t understand everything, one thing was clear: there is someone to talk on the other side. Salamat.