'Azzun 'Atma, Sun 3.8.08, Morning
Terrible; completely surreal.
05:40 We’re not allowed to pass through the gate. The checkpoint commander, First Sgt. “Alef,” pays no heed when we tell him that we always go through. This is an order he’s received.Many people in the queue, some two hundred or more. Some claim that they’ve been waiting at the checkpoint since 4 o’clock a.m.
About 50 vehicles and more continue to arrive.The CP commander alone checks the vehicles entering the village and those leaving for the Territories, and also the pedestrians – admittedly few – who are headed for the Territories. As it goes on, there’s also a large group of laborers with permits, waiting at the side of the regular queue. The CP commander doesn’t display an excessive degree of humanity towards the Palestinians, and when we raise the matter of the long queues and protracted waiting time for pedestrians and vehicles alike, is response is that he’s performing the work as he should. On the other hand, he really is working tirelessly, and eventually speeds up the vehicles’ exit by giving them merely a quick, superficial check. However, it’s simply impossible that one soldier can perform all the tasks required here.
06:15 An adult man with his nine-year-old son – the boy isn’t allowed to enter ‘Azzun ‘Atma because he doesn’t have his birth certificate with him. The document the father shows, that clearly states that this boy is his son, doesn’t convince the CP commander. Our intervention doesn’t help, either. The father insists, and the commander threatens to close down the checkpoint and does actually start shutting the gate. At this point, the father and son leave the place. A driver with whom we spoke tells us he’s been waiting for 40 minutes.
06:50 Laborers who work at Elkana [a veteran Israeli settlement in the West Bank –ed.] ask us to speak with the CP commander so he’ll let them pass. They are supposed to arrive at Elkana by 7 a.m., after which the gate is closed and they have no way to get in. Our request is granted and they go out. An absurd, utterly surreal situation: Here we are, helping Palestinians get on with building Elkana.
Meanwhile, this queue of Elkana laborers has been joined by many others, dozens of people with passage permits. The CP commander hadn’t expected so many people and seems a bit bewildered: he doesn’t know what to do first, whether to let them through or to go back to inspecting the long line of vehicles. 06:55We leave the checkpoint. A fellow who travels with us in our cab says that he’s been waiting at the checkpoint since 4:40 a.m.