Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Fri 12.9.08, Morning
Second Friday of Ramadan
We reached Zeitim checkpoint a little after 9:00 am. We crossed over to the Palestinian side and stood the whole time at the first temporary machsom that Palestinians had to pass through coming through Zeitim.
Having been there the week before, the set up was slightly different this week. A large umbrella had been set up for the military police to stand under as they checked IDs. The place had more barriers than before, including several cars, one which we stood next to. Lines for men and women were also more carefully marked this week than they had been the week before.
Overall, the process seemed to run much more smoothly and quickly than it had the week before. There were very few mothers and chidlren who came to the Machsom without the kushan as there had been the previous week. One man, who I recognized having seen the week before, mainly because of his red dyed beard, was able to pass through the machsom this week which he wasn’t able to do the week before.
There were still some problems however. Two young women with children who were carrying Norwegian passports, however, were not allowed to enter, although they kept saying they had valid visas. One man complained to the military police that he had to travel all the way from Hizme to enter through Zeitim as the Anata checkpoint apparently was open only to those with blue ID cards. The soldier said to him in Arabic, what, you want a machsom in every place so that all of the West Bank will enter?
Another person tried to enter on his magnetic card, and he was told that it only gave him permission to go to work, but not for Ramadan. One man dressed in a long galbiyeh tried to pass through two times, each time being turned away, while a young woman pleaded for quite a while with the military police asking them to allow her to enter even though she did not have the right documents. One woman with two children, aged 8 and 9, forgot their birth certificates. She said she was from Jericho. She made a phone call, left the machsom, and within an hour or an hour and a half, she had returned to the machsom with the necessary documents. She and her children were able to pass through.
At some point also, a young woman police-solider began checking papers. Instead of checking the papers of the women, she stood and checked the papers of the men.
There were a number of people who were not the right age to pass, and in some cases, the police allowed them though, especially when their age was borderline. For example, men who were almost fifty years old were able to pass through. One woman who was only 42 years old was also allowed to pass through the first machsom even though the age limit for women without permission was 45. Unfortunately, we didn’t notice if she was returned or not.
A group of four women under the age of 45 waited for quite a while in between the two machsoms, hoping to pass through at some point. Eventually, the police told them they had to leave, as he was not going to allow them to pass.
We also heard from one of the policemen that an “Israeli” woman had been caught trying to pass with a fake ID card. According to the policeman, she probably sold her own blue ID card, with the policeman adding that she was one of the lowest kinds of people.
She had been taken to Maaleh Adumim for investigation.
By 12:00 there was only a trickle of people crossing through. We went out with them, and noticed that they passed quickly through the permanent checkpoint, only subjected to a checking of their bags and without additional checks of ID cards.