'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Qalqiliya, Ras 'Atiya, Wed 16.9.09, Morning

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Sarah F, Dalia G Translation: Bracha B.A.

Sarah Fishman, Dalia Golomb

Translation:  Bracha B.A.

Important Announcement: There will be a closureinfo-icon beginning tonight at midnight!  There is no point in sending shifts to the Irtah and Eyal crossings.  In case you don’t remember, the clock in Palestine has been moved back one hour, and when it is 4:00 AM in Israel, it is only 03:00 AM there.

04:30 – (Israel time) Irtah – Everything is closed.  A crowd of people is standing outside in the dark and waiting behind the fence.  Despite the fact that Palestinian time is now an hour earlier, they still have to get to work according to Israeli time.  In other words, they have to get to the checkpoint at 03:00 instead of 04:00 after a night of Ramadan and will go through a workday fasting. 

04:40 – The two turnstiles open, and about 40 people come out before they close again.  The first 40 are waiting to be checked at the narrow gate where there is a magnometer.  It takes only about three minutes to pass through that gate.   This process repeats itself: 40 people emerge from the turnstiles, continue to the narrow gate  behind them, and go through other checks inside the checkpoint.

At 05:00 we already saw many people in the parking lot who had gone through all the checks: in other words the checks were done efficiently and quickly.  There is water in the parking lot that people drink and wash with.  There are two bathrooms that are clean and that are being used. 

05:30 – We go back to the turnstiles outside and the line is still very long.  The routine is depressing: figures are running in the dark trying to get into line and others are still behind the fences.  The wait in line is long and tiresome.  Outside the checkpoint facility huge trucks are standing with concrete blockades that are part of the separation wall.  It appears that the entire checkpoint will be “protected” by the wall.  Some of the wall has already been built.  It is not clear from whom the checkpoint has to be protected here, but millions of shekels are being poured into it.

06:00 – The line outside grows longer.  It is still too dark to photograph properly. 

06:15 – One last photo – the concrete barriers on the truck and the fence.  One of the drivers from the trucks asks me, “Where are you from?” 

“From Tel Aviv,” I answer.

“Who are you taking pictures for?”

“For the State of Israel.”

We left..

06:45 – Qalqilya – Empty.  There are two women soldiers lookout out from the tower.  They are almost invisible.

From there we continued to the blocked village of Azun.  We had to bring school bags for Abdallah’s children, who is a friend of Tami’s.  We tried to enter through Azibet-Aviv on the new road.  The road appeared to be open, but after several kilometers we reached a roadblock of earth and rocks.  (|As if we had been deliberately put off course and the roadblock had not been put up earlier).

We came back and went through the attractive gate into Asla and from there to Azun.  At the entrance to Azzun we did not know how which way to go.  A car with 6 youths (who appeared similar to those who throw rocks and who are the reason for the village being under curfew) and asked them for help.  While talking to Abdallah I gave them the phone so that they could explain how to reach him.  They were surprised at first and asked us, “Are you looking for an Arab?”  I answered: “Yes.  Are there any Jews here?”

07:10 – Gate 109 – Eliyahu Crossing: We did not get out of the car because we wanted to get to Ras Atiya when the children go to school.  From the car we saw several workers waiting in line to be checked and going through.

They spoke with Abdallah and told us to follow them.  We reached our destination with their help.  We gave them the school bags and returned. 

07:20 – Ras Atiya Checkpoint – A few people are waiting next to the checkpoint for their relatives to arrive from the other side.  There are also a few cars waiting.  We ask the people why there are no children going to school.  It then became apparent that the clocks in Palestine have already been changed.

The time in Palestine is 06:20, not 07:20.  We have to wait another hour to observe the children.  We were happy to see Abed’s girls arrive at the checkpoint, the shepherd who lives in the shack next to the checkpoint.  We are old friends.  We were very pleased to meet them and then parted.  Despite this, we did not get home until 09:00 because the way home was longer due to heavy traffic on the roads.