'Anin, Barta'a-Reihan, Tura-Shaked
5:50 a.m. Barta’a Checkpoint
Lower checkpoint – as we arrived a cab driver approached us who habitually drives workers to the checkpoint. He explained that since 1992, when he was kept in custody for 50 days inside Israel, he has been GSS blacklisted, prevented from entry into Israel. He asks us to help him regain his permit.
The parking lot is orderly and not overfilled. As we observed the further parking lots in the dark, on the slopes overlooking the checkpoint, we saw no cars.
The waiting ling was very short, apparently thanks to the swift passage through the turnstile: longer periods of time enabled each group of workers – about 100-140 at time – to cross quickly. At times, the green light of the turnstile continued flashing even as the whole group was already inside. Our friend A. (the former ‘usher’) explained it was merely a matter of chance. The Palestinian supervisors had nothing to do.
However, in the yard between the turnstile and the terminal entrance a waiting line accumulated while people proceeded quickly. When it slowed down, about 60 workers crossed the turnstile.
The upper parking lot: the flow of workers was regular. Three checking posts functioned inside the terminal. The kiosk was busy with workers who enjoyed a short coffee and bun break before their workday. Beside the small area in front of the kiosk, more seats were added to the ‘sleeve’ corner.
6:40 a.m. ‘Aneen Checkpoint
As we arrived the checkpoint was already open. One of the farmers said that today it was opened on time – “today things are going fine”. Two soldiers approached us, wanting to know what we were doing there. They seemed to be satisfied with our answer and turned back.
The checkpoint was functioning with no special holdups – about 20 farmers crossed, and several women. Most of them on foot, some on tractors, with platforms filled with olive harvesters. Two donkeys and 6 tractors went through.
Last to cross was Rahma Yassin, inhabitant of ‘Aneen whom we know. She crossed the checkpoint with a donkey, and asked us to help obtain a permit for her son. Harvesting olives by herself is too hard a job for her alone. Her son’s permit was annulled, she says, along with that of husband, her late husband, may he rest in peace. Eliya gave her telephone number so she could contact her.
While Eliya photographed the Palestinians passing through, a young man approached her and asked to post the picture on his Facebook page. His FB name is “End of the Road”. Perhaps Facebook will help normalize relations? For the time being, at least FB is free of checkpoints…
An elderly farmer approached us and asked our help in obtaining a permit for his 64-year old wife. He knows she must go to the Salem DCO but the task is too hard on her.
At 7:20, after Rahma and her donkey passed the checkpoint, it was closed.
7:25 Toura-Shaked Checkpoint
Normal traffic. Workers, including well-groomed women and cars from the West Bank, and schoolchildren from the Seamline Zone. To our question, one of the younger workers waiting for transport explained that today the checkpoint was functioning properly: “Good soldier”. They’re not checking the children. Yesterday was chaotic because checking the children at one checking post delayed the entire line.
Passage proceeded comfortably except for two instances: a particularly wide military vehicle exited the checkpoint while accelerating in a frightening manner that does not suit the conditions of the road and the people on it. This car also stormed back into the checkpoint, showing no consideration for the people on the road and alongside it.
The second mishap was the strong stench that rose from the garbage dumpster, which was not overflowing this time.
7:40 We left when traffic through the checkpoint was down to a minimum.
Down the road, two yellow school buses were crossing into Shaked settlement. Conditions for schoolchildren here and schoolchildren there. Another symptom of the abyss differentiating the two national identities of children.