Reihan, Mon 30.3.09, Afternoon
Why is it preferable to dump broken plastic chairs by the side of the road and add to the already ugly ecological hazard, rather than let someone take them through a checkpoint and recycle them?
Would the simple act of allowing a father a fifteen minute visit with his children at the gate of A’anin endanger Israel’s security? More on the theatre of the absurd of the occupation…
There are three familiar drivers waiting with their tractors to get through the gate, which opens promptly at 15:00. A woman with three young children is sitting under one of the trees on the side of the road near the gate. The first tractor with a stack of the all too familiar plastic chairs enters the gate. He is stopped by the soldiers and ordered back to the seamline zone side. He begins to unload the plastic chairs and various other plastic junk, adding it to the growing pile of debris on the side of the road . He returns through the gate with several jerry cans tied to the tractor, and is sent back again to unload them. Another tractor enters with a load of branches, and the white plastic fertilizer bag he is carrying is examined as well. Finally all three tractors are through, the eyesore of discarded plastic in the olive grove has grown even larger.
Meanwhile, the woman under the tree calls me over. She asks to talk to me and I sit down. She explains that she has six children, is from Um El Fahem, and married a man from A’anin. She explains that her husband was detained in Israel, before the first Intifada, and now lives in A’anin. She wants her children to see their father, but he is not allowed a permit. Now she is here with her children, hoping to get in a quick visit at the gate. She bitterly tells me, pointing to my tag, that all we do is come, write reports on the Internet, but we don’t help. I explain that we care and would like to help more, but we are often powerless to do so. We approach the gate, and the soldiers, busy scrutinizing the cargo of the tractors, will not pay attention.
The woman asks us to tell the soldiers to let her husband see his children. He is across the gate within shouting distance. The soldiers refuse. We plead with them to let the man see his little boy, and Leah persuades the toddler to let her carry him. We cross the gate and are promptly ordered to stop. The soldiers inform us that this is not a place for family reunions. All the children are crying now. I ask the soldiers is perhaps it would be better to think about whether there is justification for separating families rather than asking if the checkpoint is a place for uniting them. No, the father cannot come to the gate, and no, we cannot take the children to him. We are told to move back and the soldiers lock the gate. They have their orders. They are busy and have things to do…
3:45 The woman gives up, rebukes us about Israeli democracy, and leaves. Frustrated and heartbroken we leave for Reihan.
16:00 Reihan-Barta’a Checkpoint
The lower parking lot is full of taxis and cars, all waiting for workers and there are not enough passengers for everyone to earn wages carrying them. The drivers bitterly complain that they have no work. There are also repeated complaints about Irta (Sha’ar Ephraim) and the problems there in the morning, and people demand that we go there and see what is going on. We assure people that we know about it, that women from Machsom Watch have been there, and that we`ll try to do something about it.
We left at 16:45.