Barta'a-Reihan: Pondering the settler dynamic
It’s three pm. We pass by the Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint. Many labourers are already hurrying home to the West bank. There’s a lot of space in the parking lots.
On the way to the Ya’abed-dotan checkpoint we notice cars traveling in new dirt roads that circumvent checkpoints and shorten the way to Ya’abed. In the checkpoint itself - much traffic that sometimes adds up to a line of more than ten vehicles. A settler who comes from Mevoh-Dotan suggests we go observe in the Yitzhar settlement: “They have problems there (Serious long-term abuse and criminal acts towards the Palestininas). We here live in peace with our neighbors”. We promised him that our members observe everywhere and that our agenda is to observe the checkpoints. That seemed to satisfy him.
Returning to the Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint we entered the Palestinian parking lot. Many service cars are picking up the labourers. Most are builders at Harish. A car with the blue license plate of the EU in back and no plate in front piques our curiosity. Its owner, a young man, tells us he brought it from Germany (we weren’t sure how) and shows us a Palestinian license plate in his car that he hadn’t had time to install yet.
On the way to the Tura-Shaked checkpoint we turned towards the Reihan settlement (the Seam area) to check out the huge new building that sprouted by it. The road that was created for it isn’t yet paved but there are embankment stones and sidewalks. Turns out it’s a warehouse for storing and delivery of different products, probably for supermarkets. In the meantime all we see are signs directing truck drivers for loading and unloading. We drove in back of a tour-bus that continued driving beyond the warehouse and parked by a lone trailer overlooking a stunning view. A large group of people disembarked and crowded around the guy who lives there who said he plans to plant a large vineyard and build a restaurant there, adding that he’s only short a few permits and a few “zuzim” (Arameic monetary term). He spoke proudly about the large number of volunteers who came from Tal-Menashe after Ester Horgan’s murder in order to break-out new roads and show their presence. When we asked someone from the tour-bus group who they were and what they were doing there, he described himself and his friends as “right-wing intellectuals” who belong to the “Cafe Shapira Forum” (details on the group can be found online). We noticed Daniella Weiss as she went towards her 4x4 vehicle. We approached her and asked what she was doing here, to which she replied that she is involved with starting mini-hotels in the settlements and one of them will, according to her, be here. We left pondering the settler dynamic occurring right in front of us.
In the Tura-Shaked checkpoint all is the same: Dirty and quiet. The soldiers treat the checkpoint passers with unusual respect, asking them how they are doing, perhaps because of the Ramadan fast, and passage is swift.