East Barta'a junction: The Market disappeared
"The soldiers came and fired 15 bullets! No, no rubber! I swear, live bullets! In my mother!"
15:00 – Junction of East Barta’a
The scenery has changed completely. There isn’t a shred left of the improvised market. In its place, cars are parked on two sides of the road. The transport vehicles also disappeared. It appears that some of the famous breaches in the fence have been sealed. Further down the road, a large group of women with some small children walk on the side of the road in the blazing sun. We tried to find out where they came from. With hand signals, they answered us, “From there.”
We continue to Machsom Barta’a. Workers in groups are already going down the long sleeve (the enclosed passage to the terminal) that twists until the Palestinian parking lot beneath the terminal. A girl of about 10 walks alone down the descent of the sleeve. A sign from el Nave Farm is spread out on a long sheet with an eye-popping inscription: “The People of Israel Lives” and next to it, a flag, of course.
15:10 – Ya’bed-Dotan Checkpoint
The traffic flows with no delays. Drivers honk and wave hello. A soldier who comes down to us from his pillbox is very worried about us and declares immediately that he knows who we are: Five years ago, in the pre-army program at Kibbutz Nahshon, they received a lecture from one of our members. Without a doubt, it was Hagit B. “We remember you, Hagit.”
15:30 – Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint, The Palestinian Side
The slope under the parking lot that was covered with garbage, is burned. It’s possible that it was burned on purpose. The truck parking lot is empty. They tell us that the Jalama Checkpoint was re-opened today and therefore there is less transportation. For the private transport drivers, there is practically no work, perhaps 4 round trips a day.
16:00 – Tura-Shaked Checkpoint
The observers, a male and female soldier, cross from their permanent position on the raised cement blocks, to the old watch tower. It appears they enjoy being there. We had to call to them in a loud voice so they would pay attention to the cars that waited to cross. Two passengers on their way to the West Bank get out of their cars and are sent to the inspection room with their packages. Another innovation at this checkpoint. The female soldier in the tower calls to us: “Did you hear about the soldier who was stabbed yesterday in Jerusalem”? This was her way of showing her disgust at our presence.
An old acquaintance, C., who is always ready to include us in what is going on in the Occupied Territories, arrives with his brother. They are residents of Araka, which is located just opposite the Shaked Industrial Zone, past the separation fence. How did they pass the difficult days during the operation in Gaza? “Until the soldiers came, it was quiet. Why did they come to Araka, to create havoc”? A boy of 13 from Nezlat Sheikh Zeid, (a village next to Tura Checkpoint) got a bullet in his leg. C.’s father-in-law-in-law, who was also from Nezlat, “a lovely man, a good man,” rode with his son in a jeep to plant in the field. “The soldiers came and shot 15 bullets! No! Not rubber bullets! My Life! My mother!” The father-in-law received two bullets in the leg and one in the shoulder.