'Anabta, Jubara (Kafriat), Thu 5.6.08, Afternoon
The dirt and boulder barrier to the main entrance to Azun is open and according to a Palestinian in the area (Zacheriya), it has been open for the last three days. This man claims that the Organization for Citizens Rights was influential in getting the barrier removed.
The village of Jubarah was closed off today at 5:30PM because, according to the commanding soldier at the main Jubarah checkpoint, there is an operation against illegal Palestinian workers returning from Israel going on. The commander said it started at about 5:00 PM and may go on through the night. We don't know for sure if it was also closed on the A Ras side because we didn't enter from that way. We were hoping to get to A Ras from Jubarrah even though when we looked over at A Ras from the main road (Route 57) we didn't see anyone waiting on line from the direction of Tul Karm.
Out side the gate on the "Israeli" side there was a police jeep waiting as you enter the checkpoint from the west to stop all workers returning from Israel in order to check their permits and ID cards . Since there were about 20 workers standing around the jeep we went over to see what was going on. The police said they were calling in the different names because each person didn't have exactly what was necessary to make him a legal worker. "Why do they have to look for work in Israel," complained one of the police man. "Why don't they look for work in their own villages." When we tried to explain about how the internal checkpoints were interfering with the entire social structure, including the lack of work available, it was not accepted. When we talked with them further we realized they did not even know where the border was between Israel and Palestine and indeed, "where is the border" is not an easily answered question in the present state of things.
As we were speaking to the police, a car of 2 Israeli young men stopped as they drove into the CP from the Israeli side. They wanted to know if we were bothering the police in their work. The police told them to leave but they got out and one of them started to curse us vehemently. "It is because of you that this country is being ruined." "The problems in this country are because of you." "You are choking us." "You are garbage" and so on…. This onslaught went on for about 5 minutes. It was a very difficult situation. We did not answer them back and they finally went back to their car shouting at us as they continued to drive away. The Palestinian workers and the police were all silent as well. Fortunately they did not get physically abusive. When we decided to leave, one of the police man said to us that he feels just like they do toward us.
The issue of illegal workers is complicated. There is very little work in the territories and people have to make a living. In spite of the fact that the process of obtaining a work permit in Israel is a difficult one, many Palestinians try to obtain one. A person lucky enough to receive a permit can still not stay over night in Israel legally. The permit is good for the day time hours only. However, if a worker goes back and forth each day, the cost of travel becomes prohibitive and the waiting at the checkpoints often mans they will be late to work. Pay is then deducted from their salaries, at best, and they often simply lose their jobs. Therefore, many stay over night in Israel from Sunday till Thursday, illegally. At any moment they are at danger of being caught and imprisoned and/or having their permit revoked. They sleep in hideaways of all types in order to avoid being caught. Having a toilet or shower available is the exception. The need to support their families is greater then all these problems. Some Israeli businesses have become dependent on legal and illegal Palestinian workers for jobs that Israelis do not want or do not want for the pay being offered.
5:00PM Anabta As we entered the checkpoint 2 of the soldiers were leaving in the direction of Nablus. It seems they came to check some movement they were seeing in the field behind the taxi parking area. A shepherd was passing with his flock. During the 5 minutes the soldiers were not at the CP, the vehicle traffic to Tul Karm continued to be waved through but the traffic from Tul Karm was stopped and about 20 vehicles were lined up. At 5:08 the 2 soldiers returned and they started checking the traffic from Tul Karm. It took about 7 minutes to check the 20 car line that had formed. New vehicles kept joining the line but now the line was moving. IDs were not being checked. At that moment in time, they just had the vehicle stop and then took a cursory look into the vehicle. It took about 15 seconds a vehicle.