Hashmonaim (Ni'ilin), Makkabim (Beit Sira)

Observers: 
Miriam Shayush (photographing), Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting), Orli Eltsin (a new member). Translator:  Charles K.
May-29-2016
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Morning

A difficult morning at Ni’ilin checkpoint, and calm at Beit Sira

Ni’ilin

We arrived at approximately 05:40.  We drove through the checkpoint and parked by the roadside just beyond.  We crossed the road and stood where people jump over the guard rail and descend a dirt path toward the checkpoint.  Food stands await beyond the guardrail.  There are also stands down below on the road from Ni’ilin.

 

 Makabim - Ni'lin Chackpoint
The food stands along the road, on the other side of the guard rail

A line extends from the checkpoint building around the plaza and toward the road from Ni’ilin.  It’s 3-4 people abreast, and they slowly advance and enter the checkpoint building where the inspection booths are located.  Today the line is particularly long and stretches to the yellow bar, which blocks the entry of vehicles coming from Ni’ilin.  People descending from the road above come straight to the end of the line.  This isn’t usual here, and indicates there’s probably a problem with the inspections, and a risk of disorder. 

And in fact, the line soon disintegrated.  People began running toward the top of the line and a crowd formed at the entrance to the building, which doesn’t usually happen here.

 

Makabim - Ni'lin Chackpoint
The line to the checkpoint

We picked some people to follow and see how long it takes them to go through, and returned to the cars.  The inspector at the vehicle checkpoint asks us what we’re doing here and consults with her supervisor before lifting the bar and letting us through.

We drove through the checkpoint and parked on the Israeli side. There’s the usual tumult here.  Many vehicles at the plaza and in the parking lot, primarily buses and minibuses transporting workers to their jobs.  There are many people.  The bathrooms are open.  While waiting for “our” persons, we spoke to H. whom we know from previous visits, and with others.  All complain that conditions today are difficult and inspection is slower than usual.  Some claimed it was intentional.  But we see the flow of people exiting is rapid.  “Our” persons took 20 minutes to get through, which is longer than usual, but still reasonable compared with checkpoints like Qalandiya.

Beit Sira checkpoint

We returned to our cars and drove to Beit Sira.  We parked along the road, facing Modi’in, and went down.  It was a little after 6 AM.  People say hello, tell us everything’s alright.  The guard we saw outside also said hello and asked whether everything was alright.  Two soldiers join the Palestinians at a kiosk.  While they’re armed, they’re not wearing bulletproof vests or helmets, and it’s clear they feel at ease and don’t appear tense or alert.  A person we picked crossed in five minutes.  We left.