An unpleasant surprise at the Hermesh checkpoint

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Neta Golan (Reporting, Tami Rituv (Photos) Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham

14:50 – Tura – Shaked Checkpoint

There was very little traffic in either direction.  A car dropped a person off at the entrance to the checkpoint and another  at the lone house near the checkpoint that is separated from the village of Tura by the separation barrier.  A happy group of women returned to the seamline zone and all crowded into a small car.  We drove past Barta’a Checkpoint on our way to Yaabed Dotan. And noticed that there were no  trucks in the parking lot and that all the parking lots on the Palestinian side along Route 596, perhaps because of the stormy weather or because people were using the holes in the fence.

15:10 – Yaabed Dotan Checkpoint

Traffic was moving without delay in both directions.         

15:30 – Hermesh Checkpoint

We don’t always visit this checkpoint since Route 585 that used to be blocked by a locked gate until  the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, came to visit during Barak Obama’s first term as president.  Traffic in the direction of Kafin, Baka’a El Sharkiya, and on to Tulkarem and back moves without being stopped.   There is a red sign warning against entering Area A, but there was no checkpoint  and there were no soldiers.  This time we decided to drive there.  To tell the truth, we were hoping to see the anemones in flower.  Se only saw a few, but were surprised to see a soldier was stationed on the concrete block with his weapon drawn  (092045).     An armored car was parked on the other side of the road.  (0007).  Soldiers were stopping cars that were driving towards Barta’a Checkpoint or  to Yaabed or Jenin.  We attempted unsuccessfully to talk to the soldier on the concrete block.  He hadn’t heard of Machsom Watch and didn’t want to listen.    He was also not willing to tell us what was going on.

 15:50 – Barta’a Reihan Checkpoint Palestinian Side

We entered the large parking lot in the pouring rain. There were three boys selling coffee and a few older drivers  greeted us.  The kiosk has grown and there is an  area in front that is protected from the rain by plastic sheeting and windows.    A man selling strawberries at NIS 5 for a box had situated himself there.  (0006).  The strawberries were from Gaza, but the booth was made of cartons from an Israeli fruit grower “B’reshit Galil Golan (0005).    

16:10 – Route 611

Many cars were parked beneath the village of Luxor and a few transport vehicles were dropping workers off on the side of the road.   Workers were hurrying in the rain towards the hole in the fence to get to their cars (0004).    There were many muddy plastic bags along the road, evidence of many people going there throughout the day.  (0003).  The white houses of the city of Harish, where most of these people work in construction, overlook the scene.

We left at 16:30.  The sky looked amazing as it changed colors from blue, white, and gray hung above all the ugliness.