Northern Checkpoints: “Am I at risk, crossing through the holes in the fence?”

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Roni Shalit and Hannah Heller, translation Tal H.

Eastern Barta’a Junction 6 a.m.

For the past two years we were reporting routine as it were, whereby crossing takes place at the Barta’a checkpoint. Now we can report a routine by which workers pass through holes in the Separation Fence. Along road 611, from eastern Barta’a northward, there are three active holes to which workers from the West Bank arrive in cabs every morning. After crossing unhampered and then crossing the security track, they arrive at Barta’a Junction either on foot or in vans that pick them up directly from the holes in the fence. Workers who have work in Israel or are in search of work there ride from the junction in buses, minibuses, cabs and contractors’ vans to various work places in Israel.

Anin Checkpoint 6:20 a.m.

The checkpoint has been opened for five minutes already, but only one tractor has passed. Others will pass or have passed already in their own good time, through the holes in the fence. The person who did cross at the checkpoint is a man who works regularly in Jenin and once a month he goes with his tractor to work in his own olive tree grove in the seamline zone, and is presently preparing it for the harvest coming up, telling us that this year the harvest will not be so plentiful.

Toura Checkpoint 6:45 a.m.

On our way we met people who have already crossed through the hole in the fence, for the checkpoint itself is still closed. Opening time now is 7 a.m. all weekdays (the checkpoint used to open Sunday through Wednesdays at 6:30). The soldiers came exactly at 7 but it took them 10 minutes to get organized. Cars cross in both directions, and pedestrians who waited patiently are only beginning to cross now.  One of the women (a seamstress) asked us whether crossing through the hole in the fence might risk her livelihood? According to the way the Israeli army is conducting itself right now, it is not likely that any measures are taken.

Barta’a Checkpoint 7:30

Even at this late hour, not many people cross, and those who do all work in the seamline zone. The carparks are partially filled and the snack bar only serves the checkpoint staff.

Eastern Barta’a Junction 7:40

The junction is emptied of workers, buses and vans, only one coffee stand is left. Workers are still arriving at the junction from the West bank (they have crossed through holes in the fence) and some of them continue to Barta’a.