'Anabta, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Qalqiliya, Wed 5.8.09, Afternoon
Translation: Galia S.
Ras Atiya checkpoint
14:40 – Extremely thin traffic. ID cards are checked and the vehicles are allowed to pass.
In the checkpoint area there are two soldiers, another soldier is watching from the watchtower, one soldier of the military police and one or two soldiers are inside the building.
Two boys arrive on their bikes, go on to the checkpoint where they are checked, and then they pass. A woman comes out of the inspection building and walks towards us. We offer her a ride and take her to Dab'a.
14:50 – Hisham, the head of the village of Ras at Tira, arrives from Habla. Although he passes here twice a day and everybody knows him, his documents and the car trunk are checked. Talking with him, we hear that the checkpoint crossing is more stringently controlled and as of 2 weeks ago, far fewer cars are allowed to pass: only 8 cars instead of 27 in the past. Another thing he tells us is about a refrigerator and washing machine repairman who came to the village today with 2 gas containers for refill but, because of these gas containers, was not allowed to pass. Hisham has taken care of it and only now, at 15:00, he passed.
There are 5 grocery stores in the village but not all of them have a passage permit. The locksmith's and the carpenter's workshops haven't been given one, either. However, they were asked how much money they make per year…
We go with Hisham to his home in the village. While we are there, we write down the details he gives us about all members of his nuclear family, so that we can add them their names to the list of the children that will participate in the day camp that will take place on the beach of Bat-Yam on 17.8.09 (hoping they will get permission).
15:30 – We leave Ras at Tira and go to the settlement of Alfei Menashe to watch from there the construction work on the new fence. Only part of the construction that goes on full scale can be seen.
15:50 – There are only two soldiers who keep watch on the tower.
In order to make a U-turn we go round the checkpoint wreckage (the concrete in the middle of the road) and leave the area.
We are stopped by a pick-up truck, out of which comes a man who looks very upset. "What are you looking for?" he asks. "You have just been to Alfei Menashe and now you are entering Qalqiliya … Don't you know it's dangerous?" He is really worried about us. We calm him and tell him he shouldn't be worried because we are familiar with the area, having come here for many years. The man leaves, still looking worried.
16:00 – A brand-new road has been built from Izbat Tabib to Azzun. Although the entrance to Azzun is open, all the way along the village near the road there is a fence constructed only 2 months ago (and while it was under construction, the entrance to Azzun was blocked).
16:25 – Some 10 cars are waiting at the entrance but the line is moving forward and within minutes disappears altogether. On both sides the cars pass without inspection.
Tami approaches the soldiers but they come running towards her and tell her to go back because, being a military zone, standing here is prohibited. Tami is persistent, asking them why Palestinians pass here if it is a military zone. But the soldiers, who object to our presence to begin with, say we are disrupting their work.
16:35 – We leave.
16:45 – There is no need to ask the soldiers to open the gate for us as it has already been opened for another car – Susan's and Alex's. We are happy to see each other, having been by mistake, on the same route. This is why, from here onward, we split up – Susan and Alex go to visit Abu Hatem and we continue to gate 753 and into the village.
There is no line. One detainee is sitting on the roadside close to something that looks like a tent. The tent is low and he chooses to sit in the sun. Four soldiers are at the checkpoint. Tami approaches the soldiers who, before starting any talk, ask her to show her ID card. They are most hostile. She goes back to the car to take her paper and bring to the soldiers. When she asks them how long the detainee has been here, the commander tells her to turn to the brigade commander and if he says it's OK, he will tell me. We call the brigade commander and get on the phone a woman soldier called Chen. We tell her about the detainee and mention that the former commander told us that in the case of "illegals" [in Israel without a residence permit] they just had to check whether they are wanted and if not they could pass without delay. Chen promises to deliver our message to the brigade commander who is now at a meeting. We tell her also about a sign put by "Blue and White" women [right wing activists], saying "We thank MachsomWatch women for helping the terror". Shocked and upset on hearing this, Chen announces that she will see to it that the sign is put down.
17:00 – Cars bringing workers who have working permits arrive once in a while. One by one they are checked and then they pass. They go on foot up to the junction (where Ar-Ras checkpoint used to be), and from there they take a taxi.
17:30 – 17:45 – Everything is the same. The traffic of cars that bring workers back is pretty lively. The detainee is still here. We intend to give him our phone number in order to be in touch and find out if his case has been taken care of and if he has been released. But no one of the workers is willing to take the risk and deliver the note with our phone number …
We leave hoping that the young man will be taken care of and released.