Second Friday of Ramadan
We arrived a little before 11.00. This checkpoint serves resident s of Anata and Shuafat refugee camp. The camp is largely a part of the neighbourhoods annexed to Jerusalem and its residents hold blue identity cards. That is to say that not only residents of the West Bank but also residents of “united” Jerusalem, have to pass through the checkpoints for work, shopping, or prayer.
When we arrived there did not seem to be much pressure. We crossed on foot into the camp. Most striking were the filth and the piles of refuse everywhere. The gates leading to the area of school buses were closed. On most mornings this spot is bustling with people and buses, but now the children are already on vacation. The line of cars waiting for checking is not long. We entered the checkpoint building for pedestrians and were surprised that there were hardly any people. Here people are admitted one by one through a single turnstile and on most mornings the queue is very long, and passage is slow. Today we got through quickly – and stood in the shade at the exit.
The man who was behind us in the line inside came out only 10 minutes later. He complained that, because they detained him for checking, all the line was delayed and a long line had formed. “Why do this davka on Ramadan when everyone is hurrying to prayers!”
We atched, too, the vehicle checkpoint. Three lanes are open. The one nearest us and to the checkpoint building is where buses, minibuses of public transport pass. Easch one stops, the passengers alight, are checked and climb back. As far as we could see, old folk were allowed to remain inside, and soldiers/border police entered and checked their documents inside. Once or twice we noticed a woman being taken aside, taken towards the neighbouring checking station to talk to a Border policeman who was, apparently, senior. Apparently her documents were checked on the computer terminal. We saw this happen only to women (even those who do not hold blue identity cards are supposed to be allowed through on Ramadan), and they were all allowed through after a few minutes and returned to their buses – or to the next one if their bus had already left.
At this checkpoint it is customary that in each lane only one carat a time is allowed to advance to the checking station. Thenext one is expected to wait behind at a distance. So we could not see from our distance how long a line there was, but it , private cars sometimes used the public transport lane because there was no bus waiting. On occasion cyclists and motorcyclists passed, and even a man with a supermarket trolley, and also a ‘kalno’it’ driven by an elderly man in a jalabiya. We wondered if he intended to continue on this vehicle all the way to al-Aksa.
At a certain point we saw 2 Border policemen leading four young men they had stopped, presumably taken from a vehicle. Each policeman led two men who had their hands behind their heads. They were led into the checkpoint building. Later we saw another two young men being taken to the 4th checking station (the vehicle lane which was then closed) and immediately afterwards the original foursome were brought to join them. By the time we left (at least half an hour later), the six were still there and we wondered what had happened to them.
We should point out that this week (in contrast to last week when the Border Police complained incessantly that we were disturbing them) no policeman or soldier approached us or took any interest in our presence. But, then, there was no one for us to ask about those detained.
We left at 12.30.