'Anin, Jalama, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 26.11.09, Morning

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Neta G, Shula B (photographing)

Eve of Eid el Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), based on the sacrifice of Ishmael (comparable to the sacrifice of Isaac) and marking the beginning of the haj pilgrimage to Mecca – one of the five commandments binding on for all Muslims.

06:15 Aanin Checkpoint
The festival begins tomorrow (and lasts four days), but today school is already out and many are not going to work. The road from the checkpoint to the olive groves is, therefore, empty of pedestrians. While we are there, only three men crossed through the checkpoint from Aanin (in the West Bank) to the Seam Zone. One of them said that he is going to look at his land. Another said that he hasn’t gone to Mecca because it isn’t yet his turn – he is young. The olive grove to the right of the checkpoint has been ploughed but the garbage is still there. Nobody cares, neither the Palestinians nor the Occupier – all indifferent to the filth.

07:00 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
Here too there is little traffic. Two donkeys with riders and a flock of goats cross the checkpoint from the West Bank to the Seam Zone, but not before they all go through the accepted procedures. The goats need to be seen, waiting quietly by the barbed wire fence and the soldiers, without moving until it’s their turn to cross the checkpoint when the shepherd calls. What can we say, at this soft morning hour the sight is both pastoral and very predictable. Few waiting by the turnstile. As usual we chat with the locals and learn another detail of their lives: a woman from the West Bank who marries a resident of the Seam Zone is permitted to come to live with him, but the reverse – no! A man from the West Bank cannot come to live in his wife’s village in the Seam Zone (the dream of their lives). At best he can get a permit to visit for a day. Many residents of Tura, close to the checkpoint on the West Bank side, do not receive transit permits for the Seam Zone. To cross they must bring the checkpoint/DCO a reason that finds merit in the Occupier’s eyes.

It is well known that only permits that are attached to people can cross...

07:25 – because we have a jeep, we hopped over to the lone house of the Tura family who prefer to live on the west side of the fence, far from the village so as not to be parted from their land. The family’s olive grove is tended to perfection. Their two storey house is surrounded by green foliage and inhabited by two families of two brothers and their parents – 15 souls at least. Beyond the house, very close, are the red roofed villas of Shaked (officially not a settlement but the separation fence that marks the enclave expropriated for the benefit of Israel which is designed to defend them), is green with thick trees that evidence unlimited water. There, in every house, parents and 2.8 children.
We checked the path that leads on to the system road, then returned back the way we had come.

07:45 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint (new)
Bartaa (with 4500 souls) is the largest and most flourishing town of the Seam Zone in particular, and of the northern West Bank in general (apart from Jenin), and it draws in many people on this festival eve. Great activity at the checkpoint. In the upper parking lot on the Seam Zone side drivers are waiting for passengers from the West Bank, many of whom have driven into the lower parking lot and left their private cars to pass through the terminal and out to the waiting transport to Bartaa.
Three cars are waiting to cross to the West Bank. Two pickups loaded with agricultural produce come in for inspection, then they will continue to offload at the shops of East and West Bartaa and the Wadi Ara. In the hut in the Palestinian lot cans of cheese are waiting for somebody, and large cartons of ceramic coffee pots "Made in China."

08:05 Bartaa Checkpoint (old)
The old checkpoint where we began "Watch" at the beginning of the northern group is now closed and sealed. In the past it opened for farmers three times a week, morning and noon time. Is the checkpoint dead or alive. We’ll see...

08:30 – we visit Fahamiya where we find our friend O, who burnt his feet with coals that entered his shoes. "What will you do for the holiday?" "I’ll go to my family, but only on Saturday."

09:30 Jalame Checkpoint
We part and Neta continues to Jalame to collect A and his daughter and bring them to Rambam Hospital in Haifa (Yuval Roth’s program for bringing Palestinians from the West Bank to hospitals in Israel). There is no Palestinian traffic at this hour. But there is a long line of cars at the checkpoint – Israeli Arabs crossing into the West Bank. Others prefer to park in the lot close to the checkpoint and to pass through the terminal.