Today's shift was slightly different than usual because today is the fourth and final day of the Muslim holiday Eid al Adha.
We arrived at the checkpoint at 07:15. We had asked about the opening hours during the holiday and were told that the checkpoint was open from 07:00 during the first two days of the holiday and during the last two days it would open at 04:45 as usual. One of the people in charge told us that yesterday only a few people arrived at the opening time, but today many workers arrived. Evidently not everyone can afford to take four days off work.
The parking lot was filled with busses and minibuses parked in casual disorder waiting to take workers or holiday travelers. The workers came through first, looking happy and pleased. A lively woman was giving out candy. She is a saleswoman who lives near Jenin and works in Um Al Fahem (in Israel). Drivers called out their destinations: Haifa, Nazareth, Barta'a, and Um Al Fahem. They reminded me of the taxi drivers that used to wait outside the old bus station in Tel Aviv many years ago. All the drivers were Israeli Arabs and were very friendly. We were surprised at one driver's comments at our slogan "No to checkpoints." He felt that there were always checkpoints between countries. We attempted to explain ourselves and perhaps succeeded in making him understand. He agreed that a checkpoint that lies between a village and the surrounding fields is not good and that the path of the separation fence could be different. The same driver told us that there are special businessmen's certificates for people whose businesses in Israel have a net turnover of more than 3 million Shekels each year. One driver who lives in a village called Muqeible near the checkpoint was waiting for tourists from Nablus to drive to Acco and Haifa. He has a son who is an officer in the IDF and introduced himself as a friend of Bibi's. The kiosk at the checkpoint is also owned by a resident of Muqeible.
At 08:00 visitors begin to cross and families with children arrived. Women were waiting under the shed. Suddenly everyone was asked to stand back because a bag had been forgotten in the fenced – in area and tension prevailed until its owner was found. Visitors continued to arrive. A very young couple arrived with a two-month-old baby girl in a carrier. The father proudly introduced her as Dia. There was a carnival – like atmosphere at the checkpoint, perhaps because of the holiday, perhaps because this checkpoint is located on the green line, or perhaps because people crossing here are visitors going to a day of holiday celebrations and are able to make a living for their families. I don't know. Tami remarked that here even the sleeve looks more friendly.
08:30 – We left for home. There was a long line of cars waiting at the vehicle checkpoint to be checked before entering the West Bank. These belonged to Israeli Arabs who were going to Jenin to visit family or to shop.