'Azzun 'Atma, Tue 14.4.09, Morning

Etika, Didika, Noah P. (reporting); Natanya translating

The checkpoint at Azzun Atma has changed since our last visit here. A checkpoint of sand and stones, next to it the drivers and passengers crowded together has been blocked by a new army checkpoint with a sentry tower and a small tent and in it a man and woman soldier. At this early hour of the morning they stand fully equipped and check the bags of children gong to school. We could not enter the village so as to get to the bottom checkpoint which is not well remembered and which is at the other end.

The soldier says: The children live on the other side of the road and the residents on the other side of the road are meant for this checkpoint. The checkpoint is open from 5am until 10.30 at night the soldiers say.

The surrealistic picture: A man and woman soldier with full equipment and arms, the two of them belonging to the Rescue Unit, standing checking the bags and permits and scratching in the satchels of children of 7-8. And there is another soldier in the sentry tower they say.

What happens if people want to get to the village after the gate is closed. The soldier says that there is nothing like that. We ask what this means...are there no situations where people have to leave their homes, if a woman is giving birth or some other emergency. There are people on duty then the soldier says. But as to each situation in itself there are no immediate permits. To all intents and purposes the opening which had allowed illegal workers coming home late on Thursday to get home has been closed.

At the neighbouring settlements whose ironic name is Gate of Hope one can see the village and the people. One can see the blocked area at the top which is on the king's highway which leads to the settlements and one can see the bottom checkpoint clearly. One can see the people and the children, grandfathers and grandmothers choking in a small circle which the Israeli occupation has allowed them.

One can see and it is possible that they saw with their eyes the "development work" which the big tractors of the army carry out at the old checkpoint, how the road is being straightened and how a new road which will enter the village. Is there not one amongst them anyone who does not understand the humiliation which the residents of the village undergo each day. And the residents of the Gate of Hope tell me with enthusiasm "Shaare Tikvah is no longer a settlement, the border has been moved. Did you not hear?" And now go and explain to him that maybe the State of Israel has left one village on the western side of the separation wall and what this means to the changes of the international border. A happy Passover to all.