'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla
A meeting with Palestinians refused permits, and a visit to an agricultural gate
We set out in pouring rain, difficult driving, poor visibility. Liora has arranged a meeting with Palestinians who have been refused permits to work in Israel, and we must continue our journey.
11.00 Eliyahu checkpoint. Only one car in the checking yard. At the entrance to Azzun, Liora has arranged a meeting with two Palestinians to sign forms, on behalf of Sylvia.
We have a long friendly chat with two smiling youths – in the car, as they have no desire to go out into the heavy rain. M., from Azzun Atma, who speaks Hebrew like a north Tel Avivian, is accompanying H. In his childhood M. spent long periods in Jaffa. He knows Tel Aviv well and longs for it. He was arrested a few times in Israel. He confessed to something he hadn’t done because the woman judge told him: “It’s worthwhile to confess because otherwise you will get a heavier sentence.” When he was accused of transporting Security Service suspects, the lawyer dealing with his defense misled him to believe that a deal had been arranged, but he got a prison sentence. He asked for two weeks to organize before going to jail, and fled home. Since then he hasn’t entered Israel.
H., from Azzun Atma, is accused of arguing with a soldier. He is prepared to be tested by polygraph to prove that this charge is untrue. He has been refused entry until 2017. He is a building contractor, has worked nine years in Israel, has Israeli friends and a good reputation. Since he was 13 he travelled every day after school to Petach Tikvah to work. His Hebrew is excellent.
The next person expected to come to sign, should come from Einabus in the Nablus area, and he is late. Meanwhile we drive to unload packages at Z’s shop and to buy pitot. The man we are waiting for arrives only at 12.30. He tells us that he has to work in Israel because, even if he does get work in the West Bank, he would earn only 50 shekels a day, which is not enough to support a family. For years he worked in Israel without a permit until a “stinker” (a collaborator) informed on him and he was caught.
We had planned to go to Falamiya but it was too late for us to reach the checkpoint in time for its opening. Instead we traveled to Habla.
13.10 Habla. The staff is already there but the checkpoint is closed. The sky is clearing. Nine Palestinians on the farming side.
13.20 The gate opens five minutes late. First to come out are three women and four children. A taxi coming out picks them up after a few minutes.
13.25 A van from the nurseries enters for 10 minutes to be loaded with saplings, and exits.
13.30 Only now does the first group of five Palestinians enter. Two vans come out, two trucks, two carts, and a tractor. Entering are a horse and cart, a tractor, and a private car.
13.45 Two pedestrians enter, and exiting are a minibus with children, a horse and cart, and a private car.
14.00 We leave, and continue to Tira to meet another Palestinian who has arranged to meet Liora to sign. This young man from a village near Jenin lives and works in Tira. Like the others, it is only in Israel that he can earn a living.