During today’s shift we had a refreshing change of hosting Michelle S., a young doctoral student from MIT, who is studying the history and social aspects of biometric technology in Israel. During a tour in the West Bank guided by Daniela she became interested in examining the topic at the checkpoints and hoped to meet people who experience this technology. That was how she came to us.
06:00 Reihan-Barta’a Checkpoint
We could observe two biometric checks – one for fingerprints and the other a retinal scan. Both were standing unused (in the morning at least) at Barta’a Reihan checkpoint. She was also interested in finding out who was the Palestinian security guard in the black uniform who was walking around the Palestinian parking lot. We explained that he is a remnant of not long ago when scuffles used to break out between people waiting in line to go to work in Israel. The attendants were hired by the checkpoint authority together with the Barta’a Regional Council to keep order in the waiting line and to collect money for parking. This money is handed over to the pockets of the occupation together with the regional council and the Palestinian who owns the land on which the checkpoint was built. The attendants were at first armed with clubs and smoke grenades. Today they are armed with nothing but a book of receipts for parking fees. The other solution to the scuffles in the mornings was a massive retraction of work permits for people to cross from here to work in Israel. Meanwhile the owner of the kiosk at the exit from the terminal is spreading rumors about renewing work permits to cross in the morning. If that happens, the Palestinian attendants will be busy again.
When we left the checkpoint we talked with the people who were waiting for their rides to work. One of them was a young man who spoke English. He spilled out his frustration about the simple Palestinians and their impossible attempts to make an honest living in the bureaucratic and political entanglement that is getting worse every day. From what I could understand, he feels that the solution to the suffering is one state for both peoples, but he knows that will never happen. Michelle’s presence reminded us of the curiosity that our young volunteers aroused at the checkpoints, and the Palestinians’ eagerness to talk and answer questions. It is important to bring in young people again.
We did not have time to observe A’anin Agricultural Checkpoint because of a meeting with M., a resident of the West bank about exchanging documents that were needed to claim his belongings from Kishon Prison where he had been released after being held there for a short time two months ago. His belongings had not yet been returned to him.
We therefore hurried to Tibeh Romena and arrived at the checkpoint at 07:00. The military police who open and close A’anin Checkpoint go straight to Tibeh Romena and we arrived before they did after quickly crossing Um Al Fahem. Today few people crossed there. We met some of them while driving through Um Al Fahem on our way home.