'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana, Tura-Shaked
This was one of the hardest days we’ve seen at the Barta’a Checkpoint in our long ‘career’ here, consisting mostly of counting the number of Palestinians getting through the checkpoints (14 years now). It is frustrating and depressing to witness the results of the damned, corrupt and idiotic bureaucracy of occupation.
Video of Barta’a Checkpoint this morning, May 5, 2016
Barta’a Checkpoint 06:00 – Checkpoint+large regional terminal for transferring goods and people from all over the West Bank into the Seam line zone and Israel
The checkpoint is operated by a civilian security company, overseen by the Ministry of Defense’s Crossings Administration. For those arriving from the West Bank, the entrance to the terminal is from the lower car park, filled to bursting with vehicles. As we arrived at 6 a.m., one hour after opening time, we estimated about one thousand Palestinians crowding nervously in a non-line. At any given moment dozens of workers kept arriving, most of them young, while about 8-10 of them could enter the checkpoint through the turnstile every quarter of an hour. One need not be an Einstein to predict the results of such treatment. In spite of the crowding, there was no violence in the air, but people were stressed and desperate. Iyad, the volunteer usher gave up and moved away. A month ago, in a similar situation, some of the incomers stopped traffic into the terminal until more counters would be added to hasten procedures. The administration preferred finding a culprit first, and Iyad was easy prey. His entry permit was instantly revoked and he was instructed to go to the Salem DCO to renew it. He shared the story with Raslan, head of the East Barta’a local council as well as with Machsomwatch, and somehow, with or without intervention, the administration backed off and apologized, returning his permit. More counters were added and the waiting line was solved. This morning seemed to be a repeat of the same, with no solution in sight. Iyad brought Raslan into the picture, we woke up Hannah Barag and she took action. Somehow, when we got back here at 07:20, we found the checkpoint empty.
One of the young men from a village in the Northern West Bank asked for advice. His father was working in Israel, permit and all, until he took ill and underwent heart surgery in Nablus. He has recovered and now wants to get back to the Israeli contractor in order to receive the money he is still owed, but he is not allowed through because he has suddenly become ‘security black-listed’, like hundreds and thousands of others who are suddenly unemployed and there is no explanation or answer to their problem. The brother of W., an old friend, found he also fell victim to this latest nasty trick of cancelling thousands of entry (into Israel) permits for no reason whatsoever. Every day for a whole week he has been going to the checkpoint, and when he gets to the counter he is told he is black-listed and should go to Salem. So he goes to Salem and at the counter there he is told he is black-listed, get back to the checkpoint. So back to the checkpoint it is, and so on and on. Now, broken and exhausted, he sits at home doing nothing. No livelihood, no bread on the table.
As we were just leaving the Barta’a Checkpoint (06:30) several people who had had enough waiting in line went on strike again. They blocked the entrance to the terminal and demanded that three more counters be added for ID checks. This chaos went on for about 20 minutes and finally caused the checkpoint management to come out of their rooms and approach the raging crowd. The strike was over, the turnstile was opened and everyone got through. At the same time, another three counters were opened and all the inspectors worked energetically and took care of the whole waiting line.
Later that morning a forum convened – Barta’a Al Sharqi’a’s local council head and his deputies, and Iyad, and a decision was reached: metal pipe banisters would be put up for two waiting lines an several ushers will be in place, paid, every morning. The council would charge a parking fee which would finance this operation, and everyone will be happy… But until 6-8 inspection counters will be in operation inside the terminal, all this will be of no help at all. Meaning – the last word still belongs to the masters of Israeli occupation.
‘Aneen Checkpoint 06:40 – Agricultural Checkpoint no. 214, opening on Mondays and Thursdays
Compared to Barta’a, silence here booms. About 20 persons and 2 tractors crossedduring our 25 minutes there, from the village through the checkpoint to the Seam Line zone. At least one tractor driver who wanted to get across, didn’t. The tractor crossing permit was confiscated. It was found “inconsequent”.
Two self-conscious youngsters approach us to ask how they could arrange a daily crossing permit through the Barta’a Checkpoint that is open every day. They work in Barta’a and most likely also stay there around the Monday and Thursday opening times. Their employer has to provide them with a letter of request and validate their employment, so they can get the Barta’a permit, but this costs him money so he is not cooperating.
Toura-Shaked Checkpoint 07:30
At this time all is quiet at the Toura-Shaked Checkpoint. It is deserted. Today is a religious holiday so the schoolchildren are on vacation.
Tayibe Roumana Checkpoint 08:00 – Agricultural Checkpoint open on Mondays and Thursdays, operated by the Border Police
A small tractor is raking the track along the fence. Up the road, a truck and shuffle are transporting soil from this site to another. At 8:20 the Border Police arrived and half an hour later they began to let people through. We are greeted with smiles by the Palestinians. Lately they have begun to call up for help and advice. We are now accepted…