Barta'a-Reihan, Tayba-Rummana, Tura-Shaked

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Nurit Perla, Shula Bar (reporting and photographing) Translator: Charles K.

04:50  Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint (in the photos:  crates of vegetable wrapped in plastic on their way to inspection by a scanner and sniffer dogs; a crowded line of people at the checkpoint entrance)

About 150 people, and maybe more, most of them young, crowd at the yellow gate, jammed together but not shouting or irritated.  Older men wait off to the side; they decided to forgo the congestion, knowing in their wisdom that everyone will somehow get through in time.  Women wait on a line to one side, keeping their distance from the men.  Exactly at 05:00 we hear the security guards’ battle cry:  “Good morning, start coming through,” and the pressure at the gate increases.  The guards admit people in groups of five; someone trying to be the sixth or seventh is immediately sent back.  Women go through in a continual flow.  After passing through the revolving gate and obeying the commands of the unseen female security person, who observes them on a monitor in the booth (remove your hat, lift up the bag) they crowd together at the terminal entrance.  The congestion eases 20 minutes later; from time to time a new group temporarily forms of people who’ve just arrived.  Most of those coming through at this hour work at various locations in Israel and hurry to their rides waiting in the upper parking lot.  Workers in the seam zone will start to arrive in another hour.  That’s how they go through the terminal each morning, undergoing the regular, familiar humiliation (“the occupation routine”), exiting through fenced metal corridors through revolving gatesinfo-icon and scanners, submissively obeying orders and rules.  Keep out of trouble, don’t annoy the lords, let us get to work on time and make a living.


06:55  Tura-Shaked checkpoint

Until the occupation routine will start here, in five more minutes, we visit the solitary house adjoining the Shaked settlement.  One of the two brothers living here with their families (a total of 17 people) watches over beds of young tobacco plants.  Soon they’ll begin planting tobacco in the fields.  The earth is steaming; we bravely refuse hot tea (it’s cold: 10 C) and return to the occupation routine that begins promptly at 07:00.  Whoever goes through, goes (flows?) through; no one seems particularly pleased.  Strange.  A little girl smiles at us.  Her sweet sister doesn’t.  The other permanent members of the cast - the school principal, the bank clerk, the irate teacher, the shy teacher, the early-rising pupils – they’re already here.  Each in turn advances, returns, gives, takes, plays their part in the routine.


We return to Zebda via the Barta’a checkpoint to bring clothes to Walid’s family.  Sa’id, his younger brother, arrives on a donkey, takes the large bundles, loads them onto the animal.  Sa’id’s routine is no less discouraging.  He works a little on the family’s farm, almost never leaves the village.  Friends?  He goes to sleep early.  Wakes early, tired.  Thanks for the clothes.


08:00  Tayba-Rummana checkpoint

Surprise!  The Border Police arrived before us; their jeep is already parked in its usual spot.

Another surprise!  No one emerges from it.

Five minutes pass.  Ten.  Fifteen.  The DCO doesn’t know why.  At the brigade they say there’s an “incident” somewhere so they can’t find out why at the moment.  At 08:30 a number of tired Border Police soldiers emerge from the jeep and let through two tractors and about eight people on foot who’ve been waiting since 07:30.