Northern checkpoints: Tents standing in front of a sealed gap
The eve of Memorial Day. On the phone with Barta’a Checkpoint, we still don’t know exactly when closure will take effect, but we were informed that in any case it will not be effective for anyone crossing into the seam zone. The holiday that begins as the Ramadan month of fasting and ends with Id Al Fitr – is still being celebrated and we expected to meet festive families on their way to visit relatives on both sides of the Separation Fence.
14:20: Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint. The car parks are nearly empty. Very little traffic. Few people descend inside the ‘sleeve’ towards the West Bank. Women and children, festively dressed, climb on foot alongside the road and are picked up by a taxi. The further car parks on the hills are entirely empty.
14:30: Ya’abad-Dotan Checkpoint. Israeli flags and those of the ‘Samaria’ Regional Council wave in the strong wind all along the way. The army gate on the way to Maoz Tzvi settlement is locked. At the checkpoint, an infantry reconnaissance officer approaches us, without any protective gear as is usually the case. He thought we came to pay our respects at the nearby memorial. “Yes, I know what MachsomWatch is. I am an Israeli citizen,” he said. A few cars with Palestinian and Israeli license plates pass without delay.
We hopped over to the deserted Hermesh Checkpoint. Many cars carrying women and children passed us driving towards Area A. To the right of the junction, on a dirt road, stood a white pickup truck with the police light on its roof.
Back to the Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint. 13 cars waited for inspection. The car park on the Palestinian side was nearly empty and this gave us a chance to drive to the end and watch what until not so long ago was the track leading to an apparently very wide breach: barbed wire still shining in the sunlight has been installed, dozens of meters long.
15:40 Toura-Shaked Checkpoint. A “tent” (camouflage sheet over a pole) has been placed there recently, facing a closed breach in the fence. Two tired soldiers came out. The reason for placing them there only a few meters away from a manned checkpoint is not clear to us. The traffic at the checkpoint moves easily. We saw only one festive family crossing into the West Bank through the ‘sleeve’. Someone coming back from there confirmed to us that closure will be in effect beginning tonight, but not for residents of the seam zone.
16:15: Although it is not active today we visited the Anin Agricultural Checkpoint, only to learn of the new security procedures. Soldiers from the Nahal Brigade no. 50 (they told us themselves) are responsible for guarding the checkpoint which had been breached until recently, and is no longer so.