Beit Amin Checkpoint south(1447)
Checkpoint 1447 – Beit Amin
07:00 The army vehicle arrives on time and approaches us. "You've no business being here. We won't open the gate until you leave." We leave at once. We don't even ask how come the Palestinians are allowed to drive on the security road while we are not.
We park opposite checkpoint 1474. An old driver of an old car is bringing four workers to their land. A police car stops them. For the second time this morning the young men get out of the car to show their papers.
The police car is blocking the road. The police check the driver's papers, again. Just a few minutes ago they were all checked when crossing the checkpoint. However, now they can report him for not fastening his security belt. The Israeli security forces care about the safety of the Palestinians on an internal road with no traffic. The driver will have to pay a fine of 250 NIS. He is devastated. How many times will he have to drive in the mornings to earn 250 NIS?
Two soldiers, a male and a female, from the police car turn to us to check who we are. They say they are not sure the checkpoint will open this morning. Why? Because of what happened in Kfar Qassem. What's the connection?
We ask them to check with their unit. They return with the answer that the gate will probably open. Meanwhile, we keep waiting. Together with us are a woman and her husband. They entered through the checkpoint at Jalud (Abu Salman North) 1419, which is supposed to open at 06:00, but this morning it opened at 05:30. Only those who came early were able to cross. The others have been waiting three hours for the opening of checkpoint 1474. She and her husband have received two-year-permits, their 18 year old son has no permit. Israeli logic. They are from Azzun Atma, where everybody has to apply individually for a permit at the Palestinian DCO.
Time passes and the checkpoint is still closed. Another call to the DCO. The answer: More people than expected have been crossing at the other barriers and that's why the soldiers are delayed." In the army they don't know that more people cross during the olive picking season. To them it's new information.
09:05 The army vehicle arrives more than an hour late.
26 pedestrians, 3 tractors with 7 more people (including 4 women) and 1 private car cross.
We talk with a young captain. He agrees with us that organization during opening hours is bad. We were not the only ones not to be informed about the opening hours by the Israeli DCO. The Palestinians were not informed, and that's even worse. And in the end, the answers we did get were inaccurate. He agrees with us that things have to improve, and that first of all, opening hours at the checkpoints have to be announced to the Palestinians.
People who arrived at Jalud at 06:00 after the gate had opened before scheduled time and closed shortly after are now sitting behind checkpoint 1474. After walking the distance between Jalud and Oranit, a few kilometers, they have now been waiting three hours for the gate at Oranit 4 to open. The Palestinians' lost working hours are not important. The army has its routine.
We drive on to visit the greenhouses in the area between Kfar Kassem and Oranit.
Have you started the olive picking season? Not yet. We are waiting for the first rain to wash the dust off the olives.