Today’s title: peace and quiet in the Barta’a checkpoint entrance, which is usually crowded, especially on Sundays, and in the normally jam-packed car park.
05.30. Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint
The empty checkpoint
At the exit from the checkpoint in the upper parking lot there are many workers who have already crossed. We drove immediately to the lower parking lot, on the Palestinian side, and to our surprise there were no lines at all. The workers poured out of the vehicles that had brought them and immediately entered the turnstiles. The cars that remained turned to park in an orderly fashion.
M. from Barta’a East tells us that he has started from today to work in a private Palestinian security company, in co-ordination with the checkpoint management and financed by the neighboring townships (particularly Barta’a East). The guards organize the queue at the entrance to the checkpoint, and keep order in the crowded parking lot. Collection of parking fees has been arranged. It is not clear if there are fewer workers because of Ramadan (usually there is heavy pressure at this hour). Today there is no pressure and everyone is smiling.
Ayad, who for a few months had organized the queue as a volunteer, came to see the ‘wonder’ and is photographed with M. from Barta’a East and a few more residents.
A young man approached us, a 23-year-old student who speaks excellent English. He had never heard of Machsomwatch and can hardly believe that we are volunteers. He asks for help in getting an entry permit. We explain to him the process. Also an older man approaches. He has lived in Jordan 20 years. He has a magnetic card and today they told him that he couldn't pass. He works in Barta’a and cannot understand why not today… we also do not understand…
06:25. We leave in the direction of Tura-Shaked checkpoint.
06:30. We pass the soldiers slowly marching up the hill towards the checkpoint, which is supposed to be already open at this hour. We see the workers waiting at the other side of the checkpoint.
06:40. The first worker passes and afterwards follows a stream of workers who come out and greet us. They want the checkpoint to open earlier. We advise them that Council heads of the area that uses this checkpoint should try to act together. When they did work together, they succeeded to increase the hours of opening in the evening during Ramadan.
There are no teachers or pupils because of the Ramadan holiday, which this year corresponds to the annual summer vacation.
07:10. There are no more people waiting to cross, and we leave.