Northern Checkpoints, Barta`a: less and less people cross the large checkpoint
5:45 a.m. Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint
By the roadside, on the seamline-zone side of the checkpoint, a few workers await their transport after having crossed the checkpoint. There are also transport vehicles awaiting their passengers.
The car park on the Palestinian side is rather empty, the Palestinian caretakers are bored… The metal crossing shed has an opening to shorten people’s way to the turnstiles. At times it is locked, today it’s open and a set of matching stairs and a banister are even there. One of the drivers, waiting for his passengers to the West Bank, says that since the workers have been forbidden to cross here to Israel in the morning, and only workers in the seamline-zone itself are permitted to cross before 8 a.m., only about 1000 people use the checkpoint. In spite of the relatively small number of people crossing, they jam from time to time at the entrance to the terminal building where inspections take place.
We continue to Hermesh checkpoint. The gate on the road is open and unmanned. There is an increase in signs warning Israelis not to enter Area A. New lighting fixtures line the road connecting settler-colonies Hermesh and Mevo Dotan. The Bedouin village Amriha is still sleepy. Even our friend’s fancy grocery store is still closed. Ya’abad-Dotan Checkpoint is unmanned and only the concrete blocs on the road slow down traffic.
At Mevo Dotan a new neighborhood is under construction.
The yellow metal gates on the shortcut road to Ya’abad village and opposite Zabda are locked as usual.
7 a.m.- Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint on the seamline-zone side
A small number of people emerge from the terminal towards the work transport vehicles. The snack-bar operated by a Hermesh settler-colonist is open. People come out holding coffee cups. The person working there says that he was informed by the DCO that Palestinians are getting their permits back (??) and that workers building the new town of Harish will be permitted again to use the Barta’a crossing in the morning. There are only two windows operating inside the terminal.
On our way to our car we are approached by a man who was caught as an illegal alien and ever since is blacklisted and not permitted to enter Israel. This is extended time and again. He is now blacklisted until 2030. We hand him the card with Sylvia’s number and wish him luck.
7:30 Toura-Shaked Checkpoint
Hardly any traffic is seen at this hour. A woman (mother? Grandmother?) crosses with a little girl in holiday dress. The woman tries to have the girl make friends with us but the girl cringes. Finally she holds out the girl’s hand to each of us in greeting. A moving attempt…
We drive to the closed Aneen Checkpoint so our guest could see for herself a village separated from its own lands buy the separation barrier. There are no soldiers on site, naturally, and this is our chance to advance to the middle gate and see the third gate leading to Aneen.
We cross West Barta’a and East Barta’a. Most stores are still closed. We continue through Hareesh and Baqa al Gharbiya towards the Baqa Checkpoint.
8:30 Baqa Checkpoint
We rarely visit this checkpoint. A soldier in the watchtower wonders what we’re doing there and sends us to the inspection booth. A woman-soldier opens the door and explains that this checkpoint is operated from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. and serves about 500 people, all holders of Palestinian IDs. They are residents of East Baqa and Nazlat Issa situated across the fence, as well as Palestinians who – before the barrier was erected – built their homes adjacent to the (Israeli situated) West Baqa. About fifteen people are waiting at this hour. It’s already very hot, not a spot of shade. One of them, a resident of East Baqa whose olive trees are located on the West Baqa side, complains about the slowness of the inspectors. The filth and neglect in the car park that used to be a lively market before the wall was erected (here it’s a real wall, not a fence) – are unbelievable.