'Azzun 'Atma, Tue 9.9.08, Afternoon
Dorit H., Daphna B. (reporting); Translator: Orna B.
We got there with the car from a lane by the village side, from the road leading to Elkana and to Ephraim Gates.
This way one can easily get out of the village and into Israel, without any inspection, even by car.
When we got to Gate 2 of the Fence, cars are rapidly going through. We stand at a distance and the soldiers are not allowing us to approach the checkpoint. There is no way of seeing what is happening on the other side, next to Beit Amin. Are they waiting in line? Are there any detainees?Are there pedestrians? How many? and cars? At one point we see the soldiers turning in the direction of the road to Beit Amin, gesturing "Go away" and shouting. We have no way of knowing with whom they are dealing, and why. It is totally useless standing there.
Because of the Ramadan we prefer not to cause the closure of the checkpoint, which happens each time we approach the checkpoint and try to cross over to the other side. But it's a very unpleasant feeling.
On the side of Azun Atma arrive some workmen who are returning from their work in Israel or the settlements. They cross over rapidly. There are no long queues of vehicles, and those arriving go through fairly rapidly. Apart from the drinking break of the soldiers - one soldier offers his friend two bottles of one and a half litre of Coke and water to choose from. The soldier deliberates and chooses the Coke. All this in full view of those who are fasting. (Who said that there was a general decree not to eat and drink at the checkposts?)
Those in the queue greet us with wide smiles and thank us for coming.
A lorry laden with furniture arrives from Azun Atma. Following an argument the soldiers sends it back to where it came from . It is not allowed to pass. We ring A. from the DCO in Qalqiliya who tells us that if the driver is from Azun Atma there should be no reason for stopping him. We enquire and find out that the driver was indeed from Azun Atma but the soldiers refuse to let him through.
10 minutes later an officer arrives and has a lively 10 minutes conversation with the lorry driver. It seems to me like an 'educational' conversation, and then the driver is let through but "for the last time". And indeed at the end of the conversation the man lowers his eyes and avoids us - he quickly gets into the lorry and crosses over. We assume that the officer threatened him that if he talked to us he would not be allowed to pass. Never mind.
We left using the same way we arrived. As we go through the village people stop us and greet us, and wave to us from a distance.