06:00 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint, Upper Parking
Five drivers wait for passengers. Immediately at the entrance to the sleeve
descending to the terminal, loud voices can be heard from within. Individuals passing through the sleeve confirm a
great crowding inside and people on edge. All the women and young men are being checked in the rooms this morning. One of the women explains the nervous uproar,
06:05 – all those
reached the terminal are already inside.
06:10 – a man comes out complainning that it is crowded and the line doesn’t move. Only a trickle at the exit.
06:40 – the uproar dies down. The pressure has apparently abated, even though the flow out seems very slow.
06:50 – a single man comes out, the first of a group of workers at Shahak Industrial Area. He waits for his colleagues who will be late for work today.
06:55 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
The checkpoint is already open. Fifteen people are waiting beyond the gates on the Tura (West Bank) side. Nine small children appear on the hillside, and amuse themselves with us: they pretend to scare us, we pretend to be scared – and everyone laughs. The children pass through to school in Tura without any checks.
07:00 – a car going in the direction of the Seam Zone is checked and goes through in two minutes.
07:04 – from the Seam Zone, a taxi arrives with students. IDs are inspected and they are passed quickly.
07:07 – teachers arrive. A teacher who's passed behind the taxi and walked towards the inner gate is sent back for an ID check. She is through rapidly. The car that's brought her is inspected and by 07:12 she is back inside. A tractor driving towards the Seam Zone passes in four minutes, and a man goes through the inspection room in one minute.
Schoolchildren continue to arrive. The little ones, perhaps six years old, are properly dressed in coats and woolen hats, but the ten-year-olds are wearing only sweaters or just a shirt in the bitter cold. They go through the gate without a check.
07:20 – at the inner, distant gate 15 people wait, but the inspection seems to be moving without delays.
07:40 Old Bartaa Checkpoint
At the gate there's a soldier who doesn’t know us and wonders who we are. In the entire installation, between and beyond the gates, only three people try to cross: a man on a donkey's back, a tractor driver, and a another man.
07:47 – another donkey and rider, and another man beyond the gate. The latter is asked to open his coat and turn around. There is a negotiation between him and the soldiers, at the end of which he departs, satisfied and smiling, because he has been put on the list. This morning there was no tinkling of the bells of flocks of animals...
07:52 – no more people waiting, and we leave.
08:00 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint, Lower Parking
We pass four cars waiting to enter. A bus, with passengers, crosses the gate and drives off into the West Bank. The passengers don’t go through the terminal. The parking lot is relatively empty. Very cold.
08:05 – 12 people arrive at the terminal gate and go straight in
Four pickups with produce, which have arrived at 07:00, come out at 08:10.
08:12 – four loaded vans are waved into the inspection area.
We observe the cars entering and passing on to the West Bank from the Seam Zone. They are being checked, as are the passengers who get out for a few minutes. Passengers going into the West Bank are not going through the terminal today, and so there is no need to collect them in the lower parking lot.
At 08:30, a taxi arrives. At 08:35 it approaches the gate to be checked. The passengers alight and stand aside. From the other side, meanwhile, four passenger cars are waved into the inspection hut. At 08:45 the taxi leaves, flashing past us towards the West Bank. At 09:00 the cars are still being inspected.
Someone goes by and announces, partly gaily and partly cynically, that everything is okay. We leave.