Reihan, Shaked, Sat 25.10.08, Morning
Shula N., Noah L. (reporting)
07:30 - 08:15 Shaked (Tura) Checkpoint
Checkpoint is very busy, with about 40 people waiting to cross from the West Bank to the Seam Zone. Most have come to pick their olives. Complete families with young children, sacks for the olives, thermos bottles and food. There is also traffic in the other direction and cars and donkeys. People say that the wait is long, the checks are slow by only one soldier. We call the DCO and, after 20 minutes, a Civil Administration vehicle arrives at the checkpoint. For this reason, or another, the pace accelerates. We timed 20 minutes to pass. When we leave, there is no one waiting to cross.
A woman from Tura approached us and said that her husband had not received a pass for the Seam Zone (his olive grove) and the burden of picking falls only on her: she comes with all her small children who she cannot leave at home alone. We are told that yesterday the pickers were not permitted to take into the Seam Zone more than one sack per person, or to make more trips. What will become of the olives already picked? We passed both problems on to the harvest coalition.
08:30 - 10:00 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
Here too the checkpoint is full of pedestrians, mostly from the West Bank to the Seam Zone. People coming out of the terminal talk about an hour spent inside, while others say ten minutes. A man who has left his magnetic card in the terminal yesterday, by mistake, approached one of the workers and got the card back within minutes. Suddenly an incident is announced in the x-ray room. Immediately the doors are locked and the terminal closes for 45 minutes.
In a conversation with the DCO, after half an hour, we are told that there was indeed "something" and transit will be renewed shortly. When they tried to open for transit there were technical and "other" problems. Meanwhile 20 men were waiting to cross into the West Bank, and we do not know what was happening on the other side where traffic is usually heavier at this hour. We waited till everyone crossed into the West Bank, but were forced to leave without seeing the other side of the checkpoint.
For that reason we could not follow closely and measure transit times of cars, but when we arrived there was a line of five vehicles waiting, while four were being inspected under the roof, and when we left one car was waiting and the pace seemed normal.