On today’s shift, the Toura-Shaked Checkpoint that is usually quiet in the afternoons, surprised us.
15:00 Toura-Shaked Checkpoint
We arrived early, to this magnificent landscape of another planet, young tobacco shoots in the fields, and a fence of barbed wire and metal welcomed us.
Several vehicles crossed over to the West Bank and some into the Seam Line zone. They crossed quickly, no inspection. Two women came out of the checkpoint and waited on the Seam Line zone side. Even the trash can was empty and the waiting shed clean. Two Palestinian trucks came out of the checkpoint, and one of the women boarded it. The trucks took off, one of the drivers said that the soldiers today “are good”, and “no problems”.
From the corner of our eye we noticed that the two trucks were stopped at the entrance to Daher Al Maleh village nearby, by two soldiers who came out of an Israeli car (we have its license plate number). From afar it appeared the soldiers were questioning the drivers and checking them. We came closer to see what this was about. Until we got there one of the trucks was sent on its way. Two youngsters disembarked from the remaining truck, spoke with the soldiers and perhaps were checked and released, but the truck went back to the checkpoint The soldiers got back in their car and spoke with the Palestinian driver through the window. Even though we did not understand the Arabic, it seemed the driver was in distress and trying to explain something, asking to be believed. We went back to the checkpoint to speak with the two youngsters. They explained that they work in the Seam Line zone and that the soldiers had taken their permits and told them to wait at the checkpoint.
16:00 Before leaving we saw that the soldiers as well as the truck driver and their vehicles had “disappeared” for the time being. The youngsters must have decided they better return to the West Bank even without their papers (so they said). Unfortunately we could not figure out what went on.
16:10 Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint
A long line of young men, mostly constructions workers, are all in a hurry to get home. Since most of them did not stop at the inspection machines apparently they worked in Israel. Still a line of about 20 men was waiting in front of the only inspection counter operating. Waiting time per person was 12-15 minutes, rather long for those who still have a long way home. We tried to point this out to the security personnel at the top entrance to the terminal, but to no avail. Since there was no cellular reception, we could not call the checkpoint manager.
We noticed that the water cooler near the turnstile was gone. Only the kiosk (closed at this hour) and (probably out of order) vending machine, as well as the newer cooler at the entrance to the checkpoint sleeve were still in place.