Northern checkpoints: The knafeh that will bring peace

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Ruthi Edmonds, Hannah Heller, and Pierre (Driver) Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham

16.40 – 14.50

Route 611 – Pierre, who drives on these roads often, told us that yesterday the police feared there would be a terrorist attack because of the {large numbers of people and heavy traffic of mourners attending Rabbi Kanievsky’s funeral}.  The police attempted to man the opening in the fence near the village of Luxor, but the Palestinians crossed through another hole in the fence that was farther away from the road.

Last Thursday the settlers who use the road asked the police to pile up dirt alongside the road where cars park to collect Palestinian workers.  Despite this, Palestinians continue to use the holes in the fence to cross, and cars still park along the road, which is even more dangerous.

The workers crossed through the hole to Luxor and continued walking along the security road until they reached the parking lot at Reihan – Barta’a Checkpoint.

Barta’a – Reihan Checkpoint – Large busses and transport vehicles stopped at the upper parking lot on the seamline zone side to drop off workers who had finished their work in Israel or in the settlements.  All of them walked down the long sleeveinfo-icon to the entrance to the terminal on their way home to the West bank.

Tura – Shaked Checkpoint – Workers were returning from work in Israel or in the seamline zone, and a few cars crossed in both directions.  A resident of Tura was waiting for a ride to Barta’a.  His permit states that he is a resident of Barta’a and his 00 – type permit allows him to work in West Barta’a or in Israel.  He has a stand where he sells knafeh (an Arab delicacy of sweet cheese cakes) where he works every afternoon.  We offered him a ride to Barta’a.  We went to see how people live in Barta’a on both sides of what was previously the green line that divides the town in half.   Only a narrow riverbed separates West Barta’a in Israel from East Barta’a which is now in the seamline zone.  When looking at a map of the town it is impossible to tell which side is which.   Before the Intifada and the construction of the separation barrier the town was united.  The division of the town in half had made things complicated for many families who live on opposite sides of the separation barrier.

We entered Barta’a from the Palestinian side through Route 61 and drove down the crowded main street that is a large marketplace.  There are stores selling household items, furniture, fabrics, fruits, and vegetables, and many stores have signs in Hebrew.   S. informed us that on Saturdays the town is filled with many Israeli families who come to take advantage of the services, low prices, and restaurants in East Barta’a.   For these visitors the division between the Palestinian side and the Israeli side of the town is insignificant.  However, the Palestinian Authority is responsible for health care and education in the entire East Barta’a area  and Israel considers it as part of the seamline zone.   The Civil Authority is responsible for building (of which there is none) and for the movement of the residents (which is limited).

We enjoyed the wonderful knafeh at S.’s stand alongside local residents who stopped to bring the delicacy home.  Two Israeli women also purchased takeout from the nearby restaurant.  S.’s booth and the restaurant are in the riverbed that separates the two halves of the town. 

We drove along the main street in West Barta’a and passed two roundabouts with sculptures on our way home along Route 65 through Wadi Eron.