'Anin, Reihan, Shaked, Sun 24.10.10, Morning

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Ruti T, Chana H.

Translator: Charles K.

5:55 – 8:10

“The female soldier sorted us as if we were tomatoes” (Shaked-Tura checkpoint)

A’anin checkpoint – 5:55 – On our way to the checkpoint we met laborers going to work. The checkpoint is quiet and the laborers go through without problems. We were told that about 100 people cross today, but that not all the family members of the farmers who own the olive trees have received permits for the harvest. So we see many women leaving by themselves to pick olives, without the male members of their family! We saw a handicapped woman, none of whose family members had received a permit, going to pick olives with hired laborers.

A resident who owns 15 olive trees next to the security road came over to us. Last year he didn’t receive a permit to pick (he did receive one two years ago), and this year he hasn’t yet received an answer and the olives are already ripe.

Reihan checkpoint – 6:30 – Many laborers from the West Bank who’ve already come through the checkpoint wait on the sidewalks for their rides to work. Ten minivans wait to take laborers to Barta’a.

B. complained that on Saturday afternoon the rate at which people went back through the checkpoint was particularly slow. Sometimes it’s also very slow in the morning, according to him because the security staff working in the terminal talk on the phone to each other, and when they do people don’t go through.

Cars carrying passengers cross quickly to the West Bank, 1-2 minutes.

People coming out of the terminal today say that the crossing goes quickly.

Seven pickup trucks loaded with agricultural produce wait to be inspected in the lower parking lot, eight others are already in the closed inspection area. A. tells us, “Everything’s normal, not much work.”

Next to the vehicle checkpoint there’s a lot of activity involving Israeli buses. Elementary school pupils from Shaked and Hinanit change cars on their way to school in the territories, high school students from Hermesh and Dothan change buses on their way to school in Israel.

7:05 - When we left, 12 people were waiting higher up for cars still being inspected in the closed area.

Shaked checkpoint 7:15 – During the olive harvest, the checkpoint is supposed to open at 6 AM, but each morning there’s some problem (today there was a problem with the gate key) and it only opens at 6:30. People and vehicles cross in both directions. About 50 men, women and children wait on the West Bank side next to the revolving gate. Schools are closed for the olive harvest and the children join their parents in the groves. Those coming through tell us they arrived at 5 AM to get a place on line, but when the checkpoint opened the female soldier arbitrarily sorted and chose who should go through, “as if she were choosing tomatoes.”

7:30 – We hear excited telling from the line that isn’t getting any shorter. People stop entering the checkpoint. A soldier with drawn weapon “restores order” and people begin going through again. Those coming out complain that the inspection room is working very slowly, “people are let in one at a time.” About seven people have been sitting a waiting a long time next to the revolving gate – apparently they haven’t yet been sorted by the female soldier.

At 7:50 we met three women with children at the exit from the checkpoint. They had arrived at the checkpoint at 6:30 and came through an hour and twenty minutes later. Now they’re waiting for the men, the first of whom exited only at 8:15. It will already be very hot by the time they reach their olive grove, located near Umm Reihan. They’ve lost three valuable hours of work. They told us about one farmer who wasn’t allowed to work today because his permit expires the day after tomorrow. They leave the olives they pick on site and are allowed to transport them home only in a special vehicle with a permit, for a price.