'Anin, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 25.12.08, Afternoon
Neither the people who have to pass through the checkpoints, nor the soldiers who have to operate them, enjoy being outside on a cold, rainy day like today. We arrived at the checkpoints at a relatively quiet hour of the day, and everything was calm and quiet.
14:10 - Rehan-Barta’a
There was no traffic going through the checkpoint when we arrived, but the parking lot on the Palestinian side was filled with cars. A group of about ten seamstresses returning from work in Barta’a arrived, and we waited to see how long it would take them to make their way through the terminal and come out the other side. They came out five minutes later. People told us that there was only one window open in the terminal, but that people were moving through without any delay.
When we arrived the gate was already closed. The checkpoint no longer operates each daily: now that the olive harvest is over it is open only on Mondays and Thursdays for a half hour in the morning and a half hour in the afternoon.
We were told that about 30 people had passed through the A’anin checkpoint that day. We saw a large pile of plastic bags filled with hay and a pile of roof tiles on the side of the road that people had intended to take across to the Palestinian side. They had not been permitted to and had to abandon them on the seamline zone side of the checkpoint.
When we arrived there were two cars waiting to pass through the checkpoint, and an army jeep standing on the other side attesting to the fact that there was a visiting army officer present.
A woman and her small children got out of their car and walked through the rain to be checked before the father could pass through with their car and collect them on the other side. Yes, he answered my question, the children have to be checked, too, and no, he could not drive them across even in the rain. They had to walk through the checkpoint. He also told us that some time ago his mother had left home with an expired permit instead of her newly-issued one. (Possibly she did not notice because she was in a hurry, or could not read the permits and could not differentiate which was current and which was outdated.) When she reached the checkpoint the soldiers would not let her through or allow her to call home to ask him to bring the proper permit. He added: “I’m not permitted to use a cellular phone at a checkpoint.” We asked the driver of the waiting van what the situation had been like lately, and he said that there had been no particular problems or delays. “The people who run the checkpoints should be good people - those who represent the country.” We agreed, and added that it would be preferable that there be no checkpoints at all.
We left at 16:30.