Northern checkpoints: loopholes in fences and unlocked gates
After a long break (Covid-19 pandemic and the violence in the streets of Umm Al Fahm) we visited once more the agricultural checkpoint Tayibe-Roumana (154) below this Arab city.
The steep downhill road to the checkpoint is still filled with obstacles such as branches, pipes, stones, all radiating animosity and power-play. A few months ago we were familiarized with a local ‘militia’, youngsters who blocked this way for work-seekers from the West Bank through this area to Umm Al Fahm specifically, and into Israel in general. These youngsters do not want West Bank Palestinians to pass by their homes and even dare to sleep here overnight, but still demand passage fees (50 shekels) which they pocket. There was a smell of violence in the air which we wished to avoid until today. Their activity appears to take place in the morning hours, so today we came in the afternoon and may have missed it.
What we did see at the checkpoint: 2 farmers on tractors waiting for the checkpoint to open so they could get back home. One is from Tayibe village, the other from Roumana. Old acquaintances of ours. The soldiers were late as always, over half an hour. During that time about 15 people (including a woman and a girl) had no problem arriving and running across the opening near the checkpoint gate, and from there through a small opening in the Separation Fence, and from there through the half-open checkpoint gate and home. All this happened before the soldiers arrived. But it was clear to everyone, as well as to the Israeli army, that people cross here at all hours of the day and night. And still the soldiers arrive twice a day because tractors cannot deal with these openings. So order is kept…
Finally, the Military Police arrive – two men- and two women-soldiers. Long sleeves in this heat, bullet-proof vests, helmets – the works – and began organizing the crossing of the two Palestinian farmers on their tractors. The women-soldiers went to open the gate but apparently had no key. One of the men-soldiers went back to the vehicle, to get the key? But no, the women shook the chain a bit and the gate proved not to be locked at all. One of the farmers said this to them in English but they did not understand him. So everyone went through. Where is Chanoch Levin when we need him? (Deceased Israeli highly popular and critical playwright).
We hurried on to Anin Checkpoint (214) to witness a similar version of crossing an agricultural checkpoint with a locked gate and a huge opening at its side. One’s mind simply cannot grasp this idiocy. We missed it. The army came first.
At Toura-Shaked checkpoint, often deserted and filthy, our eye caught a new yellow chain wrapped around one of the gates. How thrilling…
At Barta’a checkpoint we crossed the large car-park in our car and discovered all the Palestinians who choose to cross not holes in the fence but a real checkpoint as befits the rules of occupation.
At East Barta’a junction there was no longer any activity past 5 PM.
On our way home we crossed the town of Est Barta’a’s main street, a huge colorful market filled with cheap and superfluous wares, and didn’t see too many customers. Too hot…
The age of the Absurd.