'Azzun 'Atma, Thu 20.11.08, Afternoon
Atmeh is a Palestinian village that is on the Israeli side of the
fence. It is on the Israeli side of the fence because it is on the same
geographic line as the settlements Sha'aray Tikvah, Or'ahnit, and Atz
Ephrahim. In order to make sure that there is no free traffic from the
territories through this Palestinian village to the Israeli side, there
is a CP here. As a result Azzun Atmeh is closed off from the Palestinian side by
a CP. In order to move in and out of the village, one has to have an ID
that shows he is a resident of the village, or one must have a permit
to work in one of the settlements in the area, or be a teacher or
student whose name appears on a list at the CP.
we arrived at Azzun Atmeh there were no detainees at the checkpoint.
There were about 6 vehicles on line going out of the village toward the
territories. We could not see the line coming from the other direction.
The wait for the 6th vehicle going out of the village was 10 minutes. The traffic in each direction was checked alternately.
was a steady flow of Palestinians coming back from working in Israel.
The wait on line was short. When their turn came their IDs and bags
were checked and then they were released. Even if some one did not have
a permit to work in Israel, he was released after being checked. We
were told that it is faster when we are there.
to the Palestinians, at this moment in time illegal workers are not
usually detained yet one can see the anxiety in the young men who do
not have permits or do not live in Azzun Atmeh as they wait to be
signaled to come forward to be checked. Seeing them on line I think of
all the Palestinian workers I see in Tel Aviv doing our hard labor,
spending the nights in some makeshift place with no water or toilet
facilities, afraid to go out on the street because even if they have a
permit they are suppose to return each day to the territories. I think
of how the illegal ones have to sneak across the border running
through some field or hill where they can never be sure if a soldier is
waiting for them. I think of the young men I've seen stopped by police
as they walk across a highway that is off territory for them. I think
of the legal workers I've seen get up at 3AM or 4AM in order to make it through their local CPs as well as the CPs at
Eyal or Ephrahim which are at the border in order to be in Netanya, or
Tel Aviv or wherever on time. Then they work all day before running
home in time for their curfew at 7PM. Those who have work, legally or
illegally, are the lucky ones. They usually support much more than one
family. When they get detained or caught it is the lost livelihood of
many. All this I see in these young men waiting, bodies tense, for
their turn on line.
were two incidents where young men claimed that their IDs had been
taken away by soldiers and had been told by the soldiers who took their
IDs that they could pick them up at this CP. However, the IDs were not
to be found. Even though they did not have their IDs with them the
soldiers allowed them to continue on their way home. One of the men
refused to go home until his ID was found because he didn't want to
have to go and pay for a new one. Evidently the taking of IDs in this area is not such an uncommon event Soldiers who confiscate IDs from Palestinians for whatever
reason are to give them a form which states that their IDs are in the
possession of ...whomever took them...with the date, time, signature of
the soldier,etc. This is seldom done if ever and as a result it is very
hard to trace the location of the ID..
were told by some of the Palestinians that there are less people coming
to this CP now because at the main border checkpoint 109 (Eliahu)
there is no check of workers returning from Israel at this time. They
are allowed to return freely.