'Anabta, 'Azzun 'Atma, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Mon 19.5.08, Morning
06:45 – About 30 workers are waiting at the entrance and passing slowly one by one. Some 30 cars are also waiting in line at the entrance.
07:00 – Both at the entrance and at the exit the passage is free. Israeli cars aren't checked either.
Azzun and Azzun Atma
07:00 – We enter Azzun through Izbat Tabib (the blockade has been removed). The streets are teeming with schoolchildren of various ages wearing the school uniforms. We pass the villages of Thulth, Sanniriya and Beit Amin, driving the beautiful road that is winding between them.
07:50 – We park in front of the gate and meet a number of boys who tell us they are waiting for transportation. They also tell us that soldiers harassed residents of the village. A worker from Azzun is waiting here as well. He tells us that his permit to work in Israel has expired and his employer is taking care of its renewal. In the meantime he works in Azzun Atma. Today the soldiers are willing to let him enter if he leaves his ID card at the gate until he returns, but he is afraid to do so.
It turns out a new unit of soldiers (many of them women soldiers) is here since yesterday. They belong to a rescue unit of the Home Front Command. The checkpoint commander (a woman) is very astonished to see that we came here with nothing to shield us but she saw no reason to prevent us from entering the village since "this is Israel …". The soldiers are civil to the residents. Let's hope their attitude won't sour.
Lieutenant A. from the Liaison and Coordination Administration shows up. He is sorry that we are not Micki or Tami with whom he talked a lot and for whom he has a lot of respect. We enter the village in our car. The houses of the settlement of Sha'arei Tikva are very close to the village and overlook the school for boys who are right now having the morning parade in the schoolyard. We cross the village and get to the edge that is close to the road which joins road 5. There is a big parking lot full of cars and taxis, bustling with activity. It is possible to drive on to the road but we prefer to stop and talk to the people.
An elderly man turns to us and complains that an agricultural gate to his plots of land opens at inconvenient hours for the agricultural workers. He also resents the fact that the soldiers demand that he leave his ID card with them while he is in the field and then the man in charge of the security in the settlement of Elkana comes to harass them. We took his phone number and checked with A., the liaison officer. It turns out that the above mentioned gate is Meskha Gate which has been opened unofficially for the benefit of the agricultural workers and he says that if they wish to change the opening hours, they can check with the Liaison and Coordination Administration. Since there is no magnometer there, the soldiers take the ID cards as a measure of security, not as a punishment. A. promises to tell the man in charge of the security in Elkana to stop harassing the agricultural workers in the fields.
Hopefully, the calm we have witnessed today (within the limits of the occupation, of course) will continue.
08:45 – We go back to road 55 through Azzun and Izbat Tabib and continue to Beit Iba.
19:40 – There are no lines. The passage is free both at the entrance and at the exit. The taxis are parked in the usual place. "Back to back" transfer [of merchandise between vehicles that can't cross the checkpoint] takes place without interruption. The coffee man gets to everyone.
11:10 – The soldiers send us to the line of the non-residents and check us with extreme care, ID cards and car trunk included, but they open the gate without delay.
No problems and no delays at gate 753 and at Ar-Ras.
11:30 – We leave to go home.