I drove a mother and her sick daughter, residents of Jenin, from Rambam Hospital to the Jalama Checkpoint and stayed to observe the checkpoint that we visit only rarely.
13:30 – 14:20 – Jalama Checkpoint
Female agricultural workers get off a minibus and carry the fruits of their labors on their heads and in their hands. Most are not young; it is very hot, but they greet me, ask how I am and smile. It is difficult for me to understand – they must have strength to work and to support their families; but where do they get the strength to smile?
Additional minibuses arrive, male and female workers get off. Almost all of them carry backpacks on their backs, sacks and watermelons in their arms. They work in the settlements in the area, in the Jezreel Valley and in the Beit Shean Valley, and live in the Jenin district. The return to the West Bank is through the terminal. However, the inspection stations are closed and people pass through quickly to the other side. On the sleeve fence that leads to the terminal, there are notices in Arabic on which the different hours of opening are written. I don’t want to delay anyone who returns from work tired in this heavy heat and ask for a translation of the notice.
One of the people, an old acqaintance, who has worked for many years in Moshav HaYogev, initiates a conversation with me. He says he doesn’t know if or when peace will come, but you have to behave nicely and to speak politely with people. No one “just comes” to the checkpoint because he wants to; people come because they need the income. Sometimes everything is “OK” but sometimes, when they behave poorly and don’t speak politely, even a 10-minute wait seems like a long time. I apologize for taking advantage of the opportunity, and ask the gentleman for a translation for the notice. It says that the entrance hours to Israel in the morning for workers are: 04:30 – 07:00; for merchants, 07:00 – 08:00; for adults who don’t need a permit, 08:00 – 08:30.
A security guard asks me what I am doing there, calls another guard, and asks for my identity card. The second guard telephones someone and then leaves me alone. A well-dressed couple returns to the West Bank. They invite me to their home. The man explains to his wife that I can only cross over at the vehicle checkpoint. I tell them that even there, I cannot. The man asks me if I don’t have a foreign passport like many Israelis. I don’t.
At the vehicle checkpoint there is a flow of traffic of Israeli Arab citizens who cross over in their cars to the West Bank. The traffic is delayed for inspection on the way back to Israel.