Reihan, Shaked, Taybe Romana (Gate 154), Thu 10.6.10, Morning

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Observers: Neta G., Shula B. (reporting)

Bingo – we found the gate we’d been looking for

06:15-07:05  ‘A’anin checkpoint

(A Palestinian village south of Umm el-Fahm, 3800 inhabitants, cut off by the separation barrier from large tracts of agricultural land).  A larger group than usual of ‘A’anin residents wait at the checkpoint’s middle gate.  Actually, they’re the usual 24 permit holders for this checkpoint, who came today with their sons, pupils on summer vacation.  Also a number of women.

  • When we arrive we see two people – a father and teenage son – facing two soldiers (and a female soldier writing something).  The former two plead (let my son cross to help me in the fields) and the latter two refuse (nu, enough already).  The son goes back.  What happened, we ask the father, even though we know what the answer will be.  Isn’t he listed on your ID card?  How old is he?  The son is 15 ½; no, he’s not listed.  We frowned (you’re supposed to be included until age 16), and Neta pulled out a phone and in 7 or 8 clicks reached the Salam DCO.  In the face of this humanitarian onslaught the father corrected himself – he’ll be 16 the day after tomorrow (and will then be entitled to an ID card).  Since the operator at the Salam DCO left Neta waiting on the line, we gave up.  The son returned home and the father continued on his way.
  • A similar scene with a mother and son.  The mother makes a pleading motion: I beg you.  The soldier points his finger:  Enough.
  • A father and two sons take the mother’s place, who went back with her son.  A short discussion.  The sons show the soldiers what’s in their bags.  The occupiers relent.  The three go through.  They cross the checkpoint, say good morning to us happily and the younger one blows us a kiss.  Wow.  That’s never happened to us.  Neta blushes…
  • Three days ago some residents of ‘A’anin returned to their village in the afternoon carrying bread and chickens they had bought cheaply at the grocery in Umm el Rihan.  The soldiers at the checkpoint refused to allow them to transport the “commercial quantity” of goods (Rightly so.  Families with many children consume commercial quantities of food and clothing.  Scandalous).  As everyone knows, commercial quantities can be transported only through the Rihan checkpoint, which is very far away.  They threw the food away by the checkpoint fence. A hungry Palestinian is a good Palestinian.

We were also told that the same day, and for the same reason, a bag of clothing wasn’t allowed through (commercial quantity!).  They’d received the clothes from Machsom Watch’s morning shift.  The clothing was also discarded at the entrance to the checkpoint (cf. photo) 

  • Almost everyone complains in frustrations and exhaustion about agricultural crossing permits that haven’t been renewed.  Fewer and fewer people are able to work their fields.
  • A man arrives at the checkpoint from the area of the seam line.  He went through half an hour ago, but wants to return home because his back hurts.  We call him to the soldiers’ attention.  “He didn’t exit here,” they reply immediately (the female soldier as well).  The first response is always no, impossible.  That’s the approach. Maybe check it out? we suggest (from a distance; coming closer is forbidden).  They call him over, check, and….let him through.  Usually, someone who in the morning wishes to go back to the village has to wait until everyone wanting to leave has gone through.  Often people are refused re-entry and made to come back in the afternoon.
    Yes!  We did a mitzvah.

07:15 – 07:50  Shaked checkpointHere as well more people than usual waiting at the revolving gate to the inspection booth.  Here too, they’re fathers and sons who are on summer vacation from school.  The main complaints:

  • The soldiers arrive at seven, but open the gate only 15 minutes later, sometimes at 7:30.  “Why don’t they arrive before seven, and open at seven?”
  • In the booth there’s a soldier (S’) who’s very insulting to the people being inspected.

08:15  Hirbet a-Taybe checkpoint (Gate 154)We finally had time to locate this checkpoint, a task that led us through a landscape we love very much, and also let us wander through the alleys of Umm el Fahm.  The checkpoint sits on the separation barrier, between the houses on the outskirts of Umm el Fahm (above) and those on the outskirts of the village of Hirbet a-Taybe (below).  The village has about 2000 inhabitants and was established after 1948 as an extension of the Jabarin and Mahamid hamulas, which are among the largest families in Umm el Fahm.  Three Border Police soldiers at the checkpoint, happy to talk with us.  The checkpoint is open twice a week – an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.  5-10 people cross during a day.  Mostly people cross here to visit Umm el Fahm, and perhaps a few for agricultural purposes.  The area of the seam line is very limited here.  We’ll find out more next time.
We reached the checkpoint navigating intuitively, on a dirt road running for part of its length through rocks and underbrush, roughly parallel to the security road (the barrier).  On the way back we drove through Umm el Fahm, the large town, and in order not to lose our way in the narrow, winding streets we asked for assistance.  A resident of the town suggested we follow him, and before we parted he gave us two fantastic za’ater pitas with olive oil, fresh and warm.

Insight:  The worse the occupation, the tastier the pitas...