Hashmonaim (Ni'ilin), Makkabim (Beit Sira)
We arrived at about 05:40 to what’s known as Hashmona’im crossing. We drove through the checkpoint and parked just beyond by the roadside. We crossed the road and stood where people hop over the guard rail and descend the path to the checkpoint. There are food stands on the other side of the guard rail. There are also stands down below, on the road from Ni’ilin. Today the stands are gone because of Ramadan. But, on the other hand, the area is still filthy.
Fewer people than usual, perhaps because of Ramadan or because we came mid-week, not on Sunday. There’s almost no line at the checkpoint building. We picked a man to time how long it takes him to cross, and returned to the car.
When we arrived to drive through the checkpoint one of the staff is surprised that we came to inspect the checkpoint and consults with her colleague about how to deal with us. The other apparently had heard of us, “Watch women.” Their solution to the problem is a careful search of the vehicle (with gloved hands). We were then allowed through and parked on the Israeli side where there’s great confusion. Many cars at the plaza and in the parking lot, mostly buses and minibuses transporting workers, but fewer than on a Sunday. “Our” man already appears. It took him 9 minutes, definitely faster than on a Sunday here.
We went toward the checkpoint exit. The bathrooms are open. People come through in a constant flow. The kiosk is open but has been hidden by blue tarpaulins to conceal the food from the people fasting, as well as to hide those who nevertheless are eating and drinking.
The kiosk at the Ni’ilin checkpoint, concealed because of Ramadan.
We returned to the cars and drove toward the Beit Sira (Macabbim) checkpoint. We parked by the roadside, facing Modi’in, and went down. It was a little after 06:00. Here too it seemed less crowded than on a Sunday. Blue tarpaulins also concealed the kiosk here, hiding people eating and drinking. The person we chose to follow took 4 minutes to go through. We met Aharon, the checkpoint manager, outside. He tells us he followed on camera the last person on line when the checkpoint opened at 05:00 to see how long it took him to go through – ten minutes. He told us they make an effort to provide efficient and polite service and believe it’s good for both sides.