'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tura-Shaked
Reihan – Barta'a Checkpoint, 06:00
Ramadan Kareem! [It is the beginning of the Muslim month of Ramadan when people fast from sunup until sundown.] The upper parking lot was not as full with workers as usual, and fewer workers were coming out of the terminal than on a regular day. No one was carrying lunchboxes and of course no one was drinking or purchasing coffee. The month of the fast of Ramadan has begun. The few people who arrived at the checkpoint entered immediately. Only four inspection windows were operating in the terminal. When we asked why so few people had arrived today we were told that Jalameh Checkpoint, where people enter Israel, had been closed, and people who usually enter through Barta'a had assumed that this checkpoint would be closed as well and did not come. When we called the Liaison and Coordination Administration we were told that Jalameh was open as usual. Either people did not receive clear explanations, or the rumor mill was hard at work.
A'anin Checkpoint 06:35 – The checkpoint was already open. 23 people, including three children, and three tractors crossed. The soldiers sent two people home because their permits had expired. A third person was sent home who had a valid permit but he was told to go to the Liaison and Coordination Administration and speak with them. (?) One person told us that anyone crossing through A'anin in the morning and returning through Barta'a would have his right to cross at A'anin revoked the next time. While we were talking we were told to go back to the checkpoint and the soldiers photographed his permit. When they locked the gates we asked the soldiers why he had been called back. They explained that he was wearing jeans, not work clothes. The fashion police are at work again, but why did they photograph his permit?
Tura – Shaked Checkpoint 07:10 – The checkpoint was open. There was a small crowd of people next to the turnstile and the people who were crossing to the seamline zone told us that the checkpoint had opened a half an hour late. 12 cars crossed quickly. The children are already on vacation.
M. from the seamline zone was waiting for two workers in his tobacco field. He told us that the tobacco leaves had to be gathered into bundles immediately after being picked, if not they cannot be used. He explained that every year there are problems in processing the tobacco and sending the fresh leaves to be dried and processed by their many relatives in the West Bank. They are required to make arrangements for sending the bundles of leaves, which makes it difficult for them to process them. Only one car at a time is permitted to cross with the leaves.
Hiring people from the seamline zone is extremely expensive, and hiring people from the West Bank is difficult because they are not given permits. Agricultural permits are only given to people who own land, and even those are limited.