Eliyahu Checkpoint - the nursery vehicles are checked thoroughly
Following the new regulations forbidding Palestinians to cross the Habla Agricultural Checkpoint with vehicles carrying plants, we drove to Eliyahu Checkpoint to see how this crossing is conducted here. We believed that after two days of no crossing (Friday-Saturday) and before two days of the Jewish holiday, there would be many such vehicles and we would be able to speak with drivers. However, the Palestinians were informed of closure, and so only two nursery vehicles arrived at the checkpoint at 9 a.m.
We parked behind the checkpoint on the right side of the road, where Palestinian vehicles usually park, and right away 3 security personnel, armed and determined, leapt at us and began questioning. Who are you, why are you here, have you coordinated this with an authorized person, speak talk to whoever you work for, etc.
We answered: “We are members of Machsomwatch, we have no bosses, we are volunteers and come to monitor the checkpoints throughout the West Bank”. One of the fellows on his walkie talkie to his superiors: “These are Watch women”.
He shows us how far we are to stand. After all we have invaded a military zone. Naturally all photographing is forbidden. This is a military zone that Palestinians are allowed to cross, be inspected in it for a long while, but for us dangerous Israelis it is out of bounds.
Only two nursery vehicles arrived.
From 9 until 10 a.m. lasted the inspection of the first vehicle. We have no idea until when the second was carefully inspected. The first truck entered a hidden area and naturally we could not see what went on there. From the Palestinians we heard that the flats are unloaded one by one and every centimeter is inspected, although there has never been any problem in Habla, and no Palestinian has ever been caught smuggling any object whatsoever. Everything in the name of Israeli security…
In Habla the drivers’ papers were checked and they would proceed within minutes. Today the story is totally different. Another way has been created to harass Palestinians.
A group of Palestinians holding a work permit returns headed for Qalqiliya along the track running parallel to the road. They tell us that although they had coordinated with Bitan Wineries, they were not permitted to cross.
We continue by car eastward to approach them and talk, but they disappeared. We park and walk along the pedestrian track. A nervous Palestinian tells us his brother was wounded and hospitalized in Akko. In order to make it on time for visiting hours, the fellow reached the checkpoint at 5:15 a.m., but was only allowed through at 8:30 a.m. and he turned back for fear he would not make it on time to the train on account of the Jewish holiday. The permit he received for this visit was of course only for Sunday (Rosh Hashana Eve). That’s it. The permit went to hell. Another way to harass Palestinians. Why was he made to wait for over three hours if he had a permit?
The way to the pedestrian crossing. On the right, inspection area with lift-forks and perhaps dogs too. All hidden from us.
Behind the fence, the second truck carrying plants, waiting to enter the inspection area.
No more nursery trucks arrive and we go back westward, stopping at O.’s nursery.
He asks us ironically: “We are being inspected? After all the greatest smugglers are the settler-colonists!” and continues to tell us a whole sequence of smuggling tales. Settler-colonists buy eggs wholesale from Palestinians and regularly smuggle them into Israel. He knows a hi-tech guy from Tzofim who makes a round into Israel with a carton filled with eggs every single morning, then returns to the seam-line zone, changes his clothes in the nursery, and proceeds to his day’s work. An Israeli officer smuggled 4 illegal-entry Palestinians and was caught. And on and on…
Opposite Jaljuliya youngsters are demonstrating against violence in their schools.