'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana, Tura-Shaked
05:45 Regional Checkpoint Barta’a
As soon as we enter the checkpoint a young man tells us he was caught (by the Border Police) in the Katzir area without the proper permits. His work permit for Barta’a was ken from him and he was sent home. Now he will have to walk the exhausting mile and get himself a passage permit anew. He is one of those young men who take the risk and go to work inside Israel without a valid permit, hoping to find daily work in the Jewish town that is being constructed in this area – Harish. The temptation is great, but the Border Police hunts most of them down on the roads leading to the construction site.
At the Palestinian car park a not-too-long waiting line of cars moves at a regular pace towards the terminal. Most of those waiting are in fact construction workers who have been lucky enough to get work at Harish, and when the town is ready they will be unemployed again.
From a talk with the taxis drivers in this car park we learned that they are not too favorably impressed with the order and discipline obtained by the Palestinian security personnel who began to work there a few months ago. The drivers are more upset about the money that these “guards” charge for daily parking in this car park and that finds its way to the private pockets of functionaries in the regional Palestinians council and the Palestinian authorities. They are certain that someone on the Israeli side, too, profits from them. At what other checkpoints are people charged for parking?
06:30 Agricultural checkpoint ‘Anin 214
The morning is cool and pleasant. The soldiers got there a few minutes earlier than we did. Some of the Palestinians rushing through make do with the hurried greeting “Good morning, how are you?” and “Thank goodness, I’m alright”… Others enjoy exchanging words with us. Karin is young and new at the shift and they are curious… Ahmad, ‘Anin born, tells us about his life before the Separation Fence was erected. He would walk over on foot to Umm Al Fahm (an Arab city inside Israel), “one cigarette-smoke away” – five minutes, do his shopping there and walk five minutes back. Now if something is missing in the village, there’s nowhere to go to get it. He has to drive one hour to Jenin. There used to be plenty of work inside Israel. Now – it’ over. Nothing. He sits at home and does not work. Ill. So how do you make a living? He has five children, each gives him 300 shekels a month, and they make do with that. What can one do. There are no family meetings, they all live in villages beyond the fence. He has an uncle and an aunt in a distant village. Only one fine thing has happened to him: at his age (59) he no longer needs a passage permit, it’s enough to present his ID. And he’s glad.
07:20 “fabric of life’ checkpoint Toura-Shaked 300
Shouts are heard from the waiting line on the Palestinian side. A group of about 20 people are quarreling among themselves and perhaps with the soldiers as well. In the meantime no one goes out or comes in for half an hour since the checkpoint was opened. Cars are stuck on both sides. Someone explains: “The soldiers are alright, it’s the Arabs who aren’t”. People arrive two hours before the checkpoint’s opening time in order to save a place in line, and others who come at the last minute push their way in.
The little schoolchildren cross over to go to school in Toura. They are not delayed.
08:00 Agricultural Checkpoint Tayibe-Roumana 145
As we arrive, there are 2 soldiers on the spot, waiting for reinforcement. For about ten minutes we talked with one of them, who claimed he is interested in what each side has to say but does not necessarily agree. He sounded quite a few slogans that contain not an ounce of truth. We are used to hearing this, a lot. But he listened with interest and good will. 10 minutes went by and more soldiers arrived, opening the checkpoint gates. ID and permits checks were conducted at the furthest gate, and rapidly. All those crossing, even the youngsters, hurried to greet us ‘Good morning’. It’s heart-warming.
We see one fellow detained for clarifications: he is an Arab Israeli citizen, resident of nearby Umm Al Fahm. He came to the Palestinian village of Tayibe to take part in mourning ceremonies as his father died. Now he wants to get back home to Umm Al Fahm. The soldiers inquire by phone whether to let him through so he can walk those 15 minutes to his home, or send him to Jalame Checkpoint the way he came, a very long drive away. Guess what the answer was…