'Anin, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 30.10.08, Morning
Translated by L.W
06:25 Aanin Checkpoint
We had only just parked when a man, his broken hand wrapped in a towel, approached us. He was on his way to hospital in Jenin. He told us in English that his uncle has land and he always had a pass, but now he is blacklisted for security reasons. He has no one to work his land or harvest the olives. In addition he asks that we act to open a lower gate in the area, closer to the village and the lower olive groves. We have heard such requests a few times because people don’t manage to work more than an hour or two a day, most of their time being wasted going back and forth, on a donkey at best, but usually on foot. The whole time that we spend at the checkpoint, we try to help a number of people who come with requests for passes to harvest olives. We are given lists of names of their children, 20+, who could help, but are at the "ready for terrorist acts" age. A number of tractors pass with people on their way to pick olives in the groves further down the road. Older people also go out to pick because the younger ones experience difficulty getting passes.
It is noteworthy that many of the passes state that return is permitted up to 21:00, but that right is negated because the checkpoint closes at 16:00.
07:25 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
The hut before the gate is full of men who apparently work in Shaked Industrial Area, and are waiting for transport. Three cars are in line to enter. The inspection is slow and the driver of the third car gets out to stretch his legs.
A man coming out in the direction of Israel is very angry. He says that he waited an hour and they drove him mad in the terminal, and would we call and inform somebody that it is not okay. An older man stops and tells us that he has land on the Israeli side, and they will not allow him to bring even one sack of olives or oil unless he requests a telephoned permit (by cellphone) and waits for it a few hours at the checkpoint. He says that the soldier on the checkpoint will not make the request for him over the military communication system, and on the other hand the permit cannot be given on a cellphone – only on army communications. We keep talking with him and it becomes clear that he owns the land on which the checkpoint was erected. When it was built, they uprooted his olive trees. He still has not received compensation for the loss of the olives and the land. Since they grabbed his land, he built a house and dug a well on other land with a partial permit, but no permission to build, and the army destroyed the house and the well on June 19 2006. He appears dispirited and frustrated as he asks us what he is supposed to do in this situation. It was hard to answer that one.
07:50 – a man passes and says that he has been here since 06:30 because the checking is very slow. In addition he complains about the process of renewal of permits. It takes four months to renew a pass, and the process cannot be started in advance, but only after the current pass expires. So there is a long gap during which they cannot work..
Another man stops and asks whether we have a camera to photograph the mud through which people are forced to pass. Both in front and behind the gate the ground is very muddy, and we saw a woman stuck with a pram and small children, dressed nicely for school, getting filthy by the mud. Leah spoke some time ago with the authorities, and was promised that the matter would be dealt with, and a year has passed with nothing changed.
We went to talk to the soldiers and, immediately, the checkpoint commander came over to us. He expressed sympathy and willingness to help, which sounded half sincere and half rehearsed, while explaining that we must, nevertheless, understand the operational motivations – a permanent solution cannot be found (whether concrete or gravel) because when the gate is closed they need to be able to see footprints. It is not possible to lay down planks temporarily because vehicles also cross at this place. Leah suggested a pedestrian lane on the side, or a narrow plank bridge that will not interfere with traffic, but we see that the young man’s patience is running out, and we have to make do with yet another promise that they will try to do something.
08:15 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
The taxi drivers who are always on the inner side of the checkpoint say that this morning there was a technical hitch with the inspection machine, and the pressures grew. Now the transit is flowing. At the vehicle exit, four cars are in the inspection compound. A man passes by with an explosives detector, and four others stand and watch. Five cars are waiting in line. The situation does not change in the next 15 minutes until we leave.