Reihan, Shaked, Sat 24.4.10, Morning

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Revital S., Rachel H., (Reporting)

Translation: Bracha B.A.

"We used to be free."

06:55 – Reihan Barta'a Checkpoint
 The dogs are barking.  Two vans are waiting to cross to the West Bank.    At 07:00 the announcement comes that the checkpoint is open.

07:10 – Today as well Walid and his brother are among the first to cross on their way to work in Barta'a. 

The southward entrance gate is closed.  Possibly there is a malfunction because a van and its passengers are waiting to pass through the opposite gate that leads to the facility in back. Or perhaps someone thought to make it easier for those going southward?  .There are two inspection windows open.  The hallway is not crowded, and some people tell us that it is crowded in the side rooms, and that there is a delay and others tell us that things are running smoothly.

The seamstresses that cross to East Barta'a every day tell us that there are malfunctions with the biometer (palm reader) and they are told to go to Salem.  At Salem they are told that there is no problem with the palm ID and that it is working properly, and they end up wasting a work day.   We hear the inspector saying "khut idak" (Open your hand) over and over again.

We phoned the Liaison and Coordination Administration and attempted to help a businessman from Barta'a who was not permitted to go through with merchandise because of some error.  He was allowed to cross.  We asked him what he did for a living.  He said, "Why don't they let us work and live in peace and quiet?  We used to be free…"

There were four vans parked in the upper parking lot.

We left at 08:05.

08:15 – Shaked – Tura Checkpoint
Before driving to the checkpoint we turned in the direction of the settlements.  There is a tank standing at the entrance to the army camp and there are flags of the armored corps flying.  The new buildings are large and impressive.   We drove along the flag-lined road to the area of the entrance to the settlements (one kilometer).  At 08:20 we arrived at the checkpoint and saw that it was empty and the gate was closed and locked.  When we called the Liaison and Coordination Administration we were told that there had been explosives placed on either side of the fence and that was why the gate was closed.  So where are the soldiers?

"They'll be there in another couple of hours."
So why isn't there a notice on the gate?
"Whoever needs to know knows already," replied the Humanitarian hotline.  "Security reasons."
Can you give us details?
"That's what we were told.  Security reasons."

We went into the neighboring village of Dir el Malak to see if "whoever needs to know knows."  We met two young people who said that maybe the Mukhtar (the mayor of the village) knows.

We stopped to talk with four men in a far on their way to the Reihan Checkpoint.  They knew since the previous night (April 23rd) the gate had been closed at 06:00 the previous evening instead of at 07:00 and they had waited behind the gate until 10:00 at night.

There were a lot of people including families with children, and when the crowd increased in front of the gate and they asked until when it would be closed a soldier had said, "Everyone has to be out of here in a half hour or I'll shoot.  Get out."  "We were on our way home," explained the man, "So where were we supposed to go?"

e left at 08:55.