Sunday AM, 21.10.07
06:50 Bethlehem CP: The Ecumenicals, who had been at the terminal on the other side since 05:00 said that the gates opened at 05:12 and soon, with about 2000 people waiting at closed again. It remained closed, with people frantically pushing, for at least half an hour. Then people were let through one by one, very slowly. What we saw on our side were 3 open windows and few people. A father with a small infant getting dialysis treatment in Shaarei Zedek couldn't get through. His permit had expired yesterday! After a lot of calling, the deputy CO allowed him to pass, and he promised to get a new permit in the afternoon. The terminal police is being privatized.
08:10 Ezyon: Lots of people ask for our help. Dozens sitting in the waiting room for the beginning of the magnetic card distribution.
Monday PM, 22.10.07, 14:00-18:30
Anata. Crowded with schoolchildren. A traffic jam caused by a huge electricity pole was being erected about 200 yards down from the CP. The CP itself looks a little cleaner, somewhat more sterile.
Atara. Heavy traffic in all directions. It takes a car 15 minutes to pass. The soldiers made sure NEVER to let everyone pass, so that the queue remained about the same length. They checked randomly, kept the documents never more than five minutes (even from an entire bus), and detained no one. However, one of them decided to play policeman and sent whoever had tried to bypass the queue back to the end, making sure he would not immediately try to blend in with the line again. Only one driver dared argue with him, all the others were as meek as sheep. At a certain point he ?¢?‚¬??played?¢?‚¬?„¢ at aiming his rifle! He noticed our shock and stopped.
Tuesday, 23.10.07, PM
Sparse traffic on the roads and at the CPs.
15:15 Atarot CP. Random car checks, traffic flowing.
15:30 Qalandiya CP. Almost empty. Only Palestinians with blue IDs or entry permits cross. At the Post Office the turnstiles are locked, no answer to our ringing the bell and no soldier far and wide. It would be interesting to know how many hours this Post Office is actually open. At the car crossing 6 cars queuing, but they were checked thoroughly.
16:45 Bir Naballah. A very polite CO answered all our questions. All in all three cars were in the row. No "separation" today.
Wednesday PM, 24.10.07
16:05 No more than 40 Palestinians at the pedestrian CP, but the various authorities still managed to make these Jerusalemites wait up to half an hour to cross from north to south. Only entrance # 1 is open. At 4:09 the soldiers announce over the loudspeaker that # 4 is open too. Peopl dash for it, but only 5 people are allowed through. After waiting for 10 minutes, becoming increasingly upset, they are told # 4 is in fact closed and they have to go back to # 1. Another 10 minutes of waiting and being pushed around, and the loudspeaker announces that entrance 4 is again open. This goes on for a while. Women with children who we have been waiting in entrance 1 and then in entrance 4 and then again in entrance 1 and again in entrance 4 are crying, not so much from tiredness but from frustration and humiliation. At entrance 1 the soldier shouts repeatedly to a very bent old woman, to show her ID: "Hadj, hadj, hawieh!!" Hadj is supposed to be a respectful title for old people but somehow, with the threatening shouting of the soldier it sounds like an insult.
At about 4:35 the soldier checking in entrance 4 decides to be more thorough. To one tourist he says: "Your visa is not valid", but then lets him go. But then he thinks he has caught a "big fish". A young boy of about 20, with a blue ID, is detained and 3 GSS plainclothes men come to question him. He is sent into the door that says "further inspection". The GSS people don rubber gloves and strip him. The boy seems calm. At about 5pm he is let go. What it was all about? He said he was born in the US and that his ID said so. He was again and again asked about that and he said that when he was taken to the new building he saw someone "like a psychologist or something" who again asked him if he had been born in the USA and then he was released. Strange story.
Thursday AM, 25.10.07
06:40 Anata. A driver told us he waited half an hour top pass, but we observed quick and smooth passage of vehicles and pedestrians. Two lanes open. Many children on their way to school.
07:45 Qalandiya. Families of Prisoners, large packages - seemed to run smoothly and quickly. The bathrooms are closed. Why? The CO said they have been vandalized twice and all the parts replaced (toilets, sinks, pipes, bars, etc.). Lines move forward quickly. Another opened when it got crowded. Army appeared to be generally helpful to Palestinians.
Qalandiya DCL, 09:40. At the entrance were about 30 angry people who did not understand why the office was closed. I called and was told that the office is open, that about 50 people are already inside and that the computer has fallen. I asked to let at least old and sick people enter so that they could sit down. One old man post cardiac surgery almost fainted at the turnstile. He and a very old woman were admitted. During the next half hour the crowd grew larger, including people with crutches and bandages. Apparently the computers of the Civil Administration all over the West Bank crashed, and the waiting room was full to capacity.
Sunday, 21.10.07, PM
14:20, Beit Iba. There's work going on at the checkpoint, a small earthmover in one of the lanes, "brushing" the new surface, another water truck blocking a lane so that an ambulance can't pass easily, and a group of Palestinian workers, making a concrete "hillside" alongside the north side of the checkpoint.
As soon as we arrive, E., the commander asks us to please not take pictures "of soldiers." In the detention compound there are three men, not youngsters. The DCL (District Coordination Office) representative tells us that the men in the compound have been there 15-20 minutes. E. mutters something about "permits," "checking" and, finally, "they went around the checkpoint?€¦. I have decided to let them go at 4:00."
14:50--15:00. A military policewoman clearly complains to E. about us. E. asks to see the camera, is joined by four other soldiers, including the DCL, and all, in unison, shout at us that we have to stand behind the white line (from where there's no way you can talk to the detainees). Security and checking of Palestinian IDs is clearly not the order of the day of these soldiers as all shout at us, E. pushes one of us, says he'll call the police, and is about to hit upon the other, when a tee-shirt wearing man enters the fray, declaring himself a "citizen of Israel, and I say you're bothering the soldiers." It's not hard to fathom that he's the contractor working on rebuilding the checkpoint and is the boss of the Palestinian workers here.
The lines of waiting Palestinians increase as all this is going on, one soldier shouts at a detainee who's dared to stand up ?€“ in the compound ?€“ to sit down, and goes over with his gun pointed at him.
15:45, Qalqilya. 12-15 trucks and cars, waiting to enter Qalqilya. Israeli cars are checked to see if they have permits to visit family, Palestinian vehicles not checked at all. No checking of vehicles leaving the city. There is order and method in the way the Border Police work here, smoothly and efficiently.
Tuesday, 23.10.07, AM, 07:15--08:45
Beit Iba. The traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, is relatively sparse. When we arrived everybody was checked, including women, but soon only men were checked, and no lines formed. A taxi driver was detained. A soldier approached us and explained that he crossed the line (literally and metaphorically). Of course. The drivers, who often cross this virtual line trying to catch a passenger, have long been the enemy of the people here. They are detained in the enclosure, and released after a short while.
The vehicle line moves fast.
Sunday, 21.10.07, PM
12:50, Jubara. Few vehicles.
13:00, Ar-Ras. It's lunchtime, the soldiers are relaxed and eating, but at their
posts. There's no checking of the few vehicles that pass to or from Tulkarm or to or from Jubara.
Gate 753. Uneventful
13:15, Anabta. This very same sign causes us "trouble" in Anabta. Here a blue (Israeli) police truck is parked by the military lookout tower, and two policemen are harassing particularly
Palestinian Israeli vehicles. The soldiers spend their time, eating, drinking or chitchatting, often not bothering to man all three check posts. No need, the Israeli police is doing all the work, including telling us that we're "annoying the soldiers."
13:45. The line on both sides grows and grows, up to 16 from Tulkarm. Cars, usually Palestinian Israeli, but Palestinian too, are stopped and searched, beneath the hood, in the trunk, but it's completely random, sometimes on their way to Tulkarm, and sometimes those leaving Tulkarm, while the yellow taxis just whiz by.
Tuesday, 23.10.07, AM
06:15--06:30, Irtah. The facility opened at 04:30. In Irtah the workers have fewer complaints than the other privatized or army-managed so-called passages (to Israel). We gave two workers application forms for "removing a security ban" and explained the procedure. Although the form is supposed to be filled by the Israeli employer, the fact that it is written in Hebrew only is a disgrace. Why only in Hebrew? For the same reason that most road signs cite the names of every godforsaken settlement but not the names of Palestinian cities.
06:40--07:00, Ar-Ras. A lone car arrived from Tulkarm, was checked cursorily and sent on its way.
09:00--09:30, Anabta. A very long line of vehicles stretching on the exit side, and soon the same happened on the entrance side. Everything is at standstill. No checking. This is due to changing of the guard, soon followed by a drill: the soldiers started running, stooping down, waving their rifles, and soon disappeared up the hill. Across the road, in the olive grove, a couple with a small child harvest olives. They say that the soldiers let them harvest freely, an unusual thing these days. The checkpoint still doesn't move. The soldiers are busy talking, laughing, smoking. Twenty minutes after our arrival the vehicles start moving, quite fast.
Sunday AM, 21.10.07, 06:00-09:00
Sansana-Meitar CP, 06:00. Hundreds people lined up, before the carousel, waiting already over 2 hours to pass. For the carousel to open and let 2-3 people in takes over 5 minutes. After sometime the pace quickened somewhat. People shouted and complained that we must do something, that it cannot go on like this, that we should bring journalists and photograph them, for "the world to see" When we left at 07:30, over 100 people were still lining up. Others simply left, having lost a day's work. Even after 9am on our return, people were still lining up on the Palestinian side. The contractors, on the Israeli side, were also angry and frustrated. The representative of the contractors in the South said that since the new CO arrived, matters got much worse.
Ramadin CP: Good new awaited us at Ramadin. The CP has been dismantled!
Tuesday AM, 23.1.0.07
09:00 Tarqumiya The place is almost deserted. According to the soldiers the last of the workers went through at 7am, and 4 buses with families visiting prisoners passed at 8:30. At the loading area, three trucks are unloading and loading merchandise back-to-back. An Israeli walks through, waving at the soldiers. At the same time 2 Palestinians are waiting behind the fence for their papers to be checked.
Privatization: Representatives of the Airport Authority ?¢?‚¬?€? the terminals section in the Ministry of Defense ?¢?‚¬?€? distribute flyers to the truck drivers explaining the new regulations at the new terminal, which will open in two months. Every candidate who does this works gets 40 shekels an hour and does a special course.
Wednesday AM, 24.10.07, 0630-1100
Ramadim CP has been dismantled. The village is no longer isolated
Sansana, 06:35 No queue, same as yesterday. So it possible to pass all those people without long lines.
Highway 60, highway 356 & 35 - Children walking along the road on their way to school. It?€™s very dangerous. But the safety of Palestinian children doesn?€™t seem to matter. Apparently there is a plan to build an overpass bridge, but since it?€™s Palestinian children, it?€™s doubtful this will ever happen. A well-dressed young man approaches us speaking Arabic. A passing taxi driver helps to translate ?€?Look, I bought new shoes. Look how fast they get worn out walking through this dirty, stony passage.?€
Wednesday AM, 24.10.07, 17.15-18.00
Tarqumiya, No workers' vehicles on our way to the CP, or parking there. Pedestrians pass faster than cars. Checking was done by 4 soldiers, while others escort the process. It was so efficient that by 18.00 the place was empty and we left.