'Anin, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 22.1.09, Afternoon
15:05: A’anin cp
When we arrived the gate was still closed, and a line of half a dozen tractors and wagons was waiting on the road. About fifty people, including children who are on vacation from school, were congregated in front of the gate waiting to get through.
When we approached the gate someone immediately came up to us and complained that people’s agricultural permits had expired and that they were being refused new ones. We saw that several people at the gate were examining some printed pages and maps that had been hung on the gate in a plastic envelope. The pages and map, written in Hebrew, were a new version of the land designation in the area and described what land was “ours” and what was “theirs.” We were told that the same pages were available in Arabic at the next gate on the other side. People were worried that more areas would be proclaimed as belonging to Israel, but the map was evidently no different from the previous 2003 version.
The soldiers open the gates just wide enough to let the tractors pass through, and then close them again, leaving a small opening for people to pass. The crowd of people in front of the gates moves through quickly as ID cards are checked. A hummer drives up and a soldier jumps out, swaggers up to the gate, and viciously kicks it open with his foot to allow the hummer to drive through. He then swings the gate shut again, but not without issuing a nasty comment to us about how good it is that we are here, showing our concern for the wrong citizens. As the hummer drives away up the dirt road we hear the soldier’s voice shouting loudly down to us over the roar of the motor: “Smolaneeeeem! Smolaneeeeem!” (Leftists! Leftists!) We smile and wave as it drives away.
A vehicle approaches and the driver is stopped beyond the first gate. We ask why he is being held up and we are told that there is some problem with his permit. What will happen to him? How long will he be detained? We wait and wait, but nothing happens, and we finally give up and leave at 15:50.
Shaked checkpoint is quiet, since there is no school today. A lawyer from the nearby village passes through, and a woman student, but there is no traffic. We left after ten minutes and continued to Reihan.
One vehicle is being checked in the shed when we arrive, and the lower parking lot is completely full. People are coming back from work and a steady stream of people is coming out of the terminal, but they inform us that they got through quickly. People are carrying bags of oranges and food coolers: one man was even carrying a television set.
We walk through the sleeve to the entrance to the terminal. A metal partition with signs in Arabic (reported previously) divide the line into two, but since both signs in Arabic are identical, we can’t figure out what the separation barrier is supposed to accomplish.
A large group of about 50 workers comes down the sleeve and congregates in front of the carousel. I begin to take pictures of the waiting crowd. The checkpoint manager calls us over, politely introduced himself as A, and asks if I took pictures of the inside of the terminal. I tell him the truth: I took pictures of people in the sleeve and photographed the signs. He demands my camera, and claims that we are not allowed to photograph and that I “breached trust”. I object that there was no trust to be broken, since we were not told that taking pictures was forbidden. My shift-mate explains that according to the IDF spokesman we are allowed to take pictures. What’s more - we have a website already filled with photographs of the Reihan checkpoint! He will not relent. I hand him my camera through the bars and he systematically erases all the pictures of the Reihan checkpoint, including the one I took of the ridiculous plastic playground equipment in the entrance. We turn to go, and we wonder what he has to hide that makes him so reluctant for us to document our visit.
On the way out we are stopped twice: once by a man who pleads with us to help his father who has heart trouble get into an Israeli hospital (We give him the phone number of Doctors for Human rights) and once by a man who asks us to help renew a work permit so that his relative can go back to work: because the family has no other breadwinner. We can do little, but we take his phone number and promise to try and help.
What else can we do? The arm of the occupation is very long.
We left at 17:00.