On a personal note – I’ve returned after a long break for medical reasons. I noticed changes like the expansion of the internal parking lot at the Barta’a checkpoint, a repaired roof to provide shade at the entrance to the Tura checkpoint. Deep shades of green have replaced the pale green of last winter’s vegetation. But actually everything is basically the same: the same pain, the same reality. In less than a month we’ll mark the fifty year anniversary of the 1967 war, an event everyone refers to differently, depending on their relationship: occupation, liberation, jubilee, return to a homeland, injustice.
15:50 Tura Shaked Checkpoint
It’s a hot day, over thirty degrees centigrade. The surrounding area is in its own version of clean. We aren’t asked what we’re doing there, presumably they know, at last.
There’s vehicular traffic in both directions, proceeding without delays. People, too – women, children, men, families – returning from and going to the West Bank, at a normal pace without incident.
Two men complain that the checkpoint opened half an hour late that morning, at 07:00 instead of 06:30.
I decided to look into the matter of connecting the adjacent village to the electric grid, as has been recently reported. I see poles for lighting, some already installed along the sides of the road leading to the checkpoint. (In the past they were powered by a diesel generator.) They are preparing for the area to be totally wired, though it’s not clear where the power will come from; perhaps from the Reihan station, south of the Tura checkpoint, or from the village of Tura, which is in area A. It’s not clear if the grid will extend to the nearby village of Daher el Maleh. We’ll continue to follow the project’s progress, and hope the village will have electricity from the grid, at last.
16:20 Barta'a Riehan Checkpoint
Many laborers are disembarking from shared rides, hurrying home after a day’s work in construction in Israel. The routine. The routine. Women and men are also returning from the West Bank, seemingly in greater numbers than before. Traffic is lively. The bodega is closed but appears well established in its location. It has a seating area, a little table, a cigarette vending machine (Palestinians smoke a lot!), a soda machine, a list of prices and even a sign hanging which asks customers to please keep the area clean. The entrance to the checkpoint is nicely landscaped and also clean. The crossing is smooth and quick, without examinations.
In the morning some people had crossed through the Taybeh checkpoint. We didn’t hear any special complaints. We noticed that they had installed an iron gate on both sides of the checkpoint, though it doesn’t look new. We’re not sure what it’s for: to close after hours? In case of emergency?
As we prepared to leave, a man approached us and complained that of late the three public restrooms have been closed, not due to any malfunction but in order to administer “collective punishment/re-education,” because the laborers have been known to steal parts from the restrooms. The response was clear and immediate –there won’t be access to the restrooms. Can’t they try something more creative than having everyone face the wall to relieve themselves? Maybe an explanatory sign, or an attempt to talk with the parking ushers?