Tura checkpoint: why delay the children on the way home?

Observers: 
Ruthi Tuval and Marina Banai (Reporting Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham
24/03/2019
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Afternoon

 

מחסום טורה: סוף סוף הילדים חוזרים הביתה

15:20 – Hermesh and Yaabed Dotan Checkpoint

We drove to see Hermesh Checkpoint and saw flags of “Netzach Yehuda” flying proudly everywhere.  There were no soldiers and no traffic, so we continued on to Yaabed Dotan Checkpoint.  There was a soldier in the pillbox and very little traffic.

 

15:50 – Barta’a Reihan Checkpoint

We arrived at Barta’a Reihan Checkpoint on the Palestinian side.  It was not especially crowded because there has been a massive cancellation of people’s crossing permits.  A farmer who tends 15 dunams (4.5 acres) of olives near Barta’a approached us.  He has a permit to cross at Kafin Checkpoint twice each week, but he is interested in obtaining a permit to cross every day at Barta’a.  Taxi drivers were trying to attract passengers by shouting their destinations such as Jenin or Nablus (They don’t go to Tiberius..).   

A man who has been banned from entering Israel by the police approached us and asked us to help him renew his permit.  We referred him to the team who helps people with crossing permits.

 

16:40 – Tura – Shaked “Fabric of Life” Checkpoint

We approached the crossroads and saw a lot of children on the Tura side happily playing soccer.  Two teachers on the seamline zone side of the checkpoint told us that the children from the Palestinian village  Um Reihan (seam line zone) were not permitted to cross after returning from a day in TulKarem.  There were 30 children aged from 4-8 (kindergarten to 3rd grade).  We approached the soldier from the military police at the checkpoint and tried to find out what was going on.  The soldier said they were waiting for a confirmation.  The parents who were waiting for the children on the other side of the checkpoint said that the reason for the problem was…the bags of toys and small presents that the children had bought in Tulkarem (Palestinian city in the west bank).  The children had been waiting since 16:00 and it began to get cold.  We heard shouting from the other side of the checkpoint while a soldier slowly and meticulously swept the road leading to the checkpoint. 

Ruthi tried to call the District and Coordination Liaison but there was no answer.  She called Hannah and asked her for help.  After a few minutes when Hannah called back to report her phone call the checkpoint opened and the children were permitted to return home.  The children were crying, while the adults shouted at the soldiers angrily. 

17:30 – We drove home.  We tried to understand what had happened here and why.