Friday of Ramadan, 2.6.2017, Anata checkpoint
We arrived shortly after 9 a.m. This checkpoint serves inhabitants of Anata and the refugee camp Shuafat. The camp is mostly one of the areas annexed to Jerusalem and its inhabitants hold blue identity cards. That means that not only inhabitants of the territories, but also those of “united” Jerusalem, are obliged to pass the checkpoints every day to work, shopping, prayer.
When we arrived there did not seem to be any pressure. There were many Border Police, police and soldiers. Two young Border Police approached us. They had not heard of Machsomwatch and couldn’t understand what we were doing there. They asked if we needed help, but asked us not to come closer. Later a more senior Border Policeman came to us. He apparently knew who we were (maybe from the previous policemen), introduced himself, shook hands and asked politely that we move a little back and not photograph. According to him this was in our own protection, so that we shouldn’t be harmed “if an incident would develop.”
We watched the vehicle checkpoint.3-4 lanes are open. The one closest to us and to the checkpoint building, is where buses and minibuses of public transport pass. Each bus stops, the passengers alight, are checked, and re-enter. Meanwhile, Border Police enter the bus and check it. There is a man with a shirt saying “usher” (sadran) and another man in a red shirt (Perhaps it was Jamil Sanduka, but we could not identify him from a distance.) They were in contact with the Border Police, telling people where to go, etc.
Some of the buses advanced shortly after the check, and then waited at the side. apparently this was to wait for the return of identity cards that had been taken for checking. Sometimes people descended from the bus. It is unclear why. We also could not understand why some buses stop, while others proceed straight after initial checking. It seemed that line 207 (from Shuafat) passed without delay, while line 254(from Anata) stopped. But perhaps this was just coincidence. Sometimes people went with Border Police to the booth to check their documents, unclear why, and it was hard to see if many were turned back. The atmosphere appeared calm and there did not seem to be any conflicts.
At this checkpoint usually in each lane only one vehicle approaches the checking station. The next one has to wait at a distance, and to approach only after the first one has passed. So from our viewpoint we could not tell how long the queue was. But there did not seem to be pressure. At times there were minutes between cars, or even cars that passed through the public transport lines because, presumably, there were no buses in line. Now and again there was a motorcycle, bicycle – and, once, a man with a supermarket trolley.
Also in the pedestrian passage there was very light traffic. We asked some who came through about conditions inside the checking station and they said there was no pressure. One complained about the precise checking, although he has a blue identity card. There were no “incidents” and all was calm. One time there was a car that stood aside after the checking station, apparently the driver was told to wait. He waited a while and then began to move. Immediately the barrier ahead of him closed. He was obliged to reverse. One man got out of the car and only then was the car allowed to continue on its way.
At 12 o’clock, before we left, we went on foot to the entrance to the camp and saw that, indeed, there were no queues. The square in front of the checkpoint was clear of vehicles.