Barta'a-Reihan, Deir al-Ghusun, Tura-Shaked
This is an agricultural checkpoint that opens daily, located at the end of a long potholed dirt track, and built on the Separation Fence: a back gate on the Palestinian side, behind which many farmers and workers wait to proceed from the village to their work places, some of them riding tractors; a middle gate that is part of the Separation Fence, and a front gate that opens into the seam-line zone. The farmers of Deir Al Ghusun cultivate hundreds of dunams of olive trees, especially on the hills sloping down into Wadi Kark from the main road of Marja all the way to the checkpoint and the surrounding hills.
The soldiers arrive at 7:05. They send workers in groups of 5 to a male- and female- soldier who await them beyond the cement slabs and check their documents. Many tractor drivers cross simultaneously and swiftly. All the workers gather near them, some on a platform, others sitting on the tractor fenders and still others standing on a plank hanging behind. Two soldiers arrive to distance from the gate the workers who have already crossed the checkpoint and are waiting for transport - claiming they are there to prevent the workers’ pushing towards the checkpoint. Weird. At 7:45 the last tractor gets through and the back gate is locked.
The transit permits held by most of the farmers are about to become invalid and the farmers are aware of the present non-cooperation between the Israeli and the Palestinian DCOs. Karin, who comes to this checkpoint more often, has promised to try to look into the permit issue next time. On our way back we visit the remains of a demolished village and are treated to a cup of coffee by farmers, a father and his son, who cultivate a small plot of land, growing broad beans, inside an olive grove. Then Karin took me back to my car and proceeded to her workday, and I – to the next checkpoint.
9:10 Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint
The car parks are filled. Few people cross now. A group of workers returns from their night shift. A garage owner from Barta’a who entered the terminal at 9:15 exits at 9:21 and requests that I come every day because usually it takes him between half-an-hour and an hour to cross the checkpoint. Many trucks are still awaiting their turn to be inspected, as are several private cars.
10:00 Toura-Shaked Checkpoint
Few cross here now, especially in vehicles. A car coming from the West Bank is delayed by a longer inspection than is usual. Apparently the soldiers write down the drivers’ phone numbers.