'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Qalqiliya, Wed 30.4.08, Morning

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Observers: Rina Z. Inbal R. (reporter) Translator: Orna B.

6:45 - 7:40 Elijah Passage (crossing over to Israel on Route 55, south of Qalqiliya)

today until Friday a closureinfo-icon is imposed on the territories, due
to Holocaust Day. Many workers are still waiting hoping to be let
through to work in Alphei Menashe, but the passage is permitted only to
residents of the seamline and to land permit holders. A woman
resident of Alphei Menashe arrives to collect 'her' cleaner but fails
to get her a passage.
Before we arrived there two women had been detained - one
is heavily pregnant, the other is about 40 years of age. Here are the
three versions we heard about the incident we had not witnessed:
The women's version: We came and saw that there was
closure. We wanted to go back home so we went back to the transit who
brought us here, and at that point the soldiers jumped on us. A female
soldier (or a policewoman) pushed us about rudely.
The version of the workers who observed the situation: The female soldier hit them and the whole scene was very violent.
The version of the Military Police officer: He saw the two
women walking towards Israel. He called them and they came back to the
passage, of their own accord. A female soldier approached them and one
of them scratched the military policewoman. The confrontation occurred
because the woman refused to give her work permit to the MP.
The female soldier launched an official complaint about the
alleged scratching. As mentioned before - we had not witnessed the
incident. When we reached the Passage a police van had just arrived and
an Arabic speaking policeman was interrogating the two women. Meanwhile
we too were trying to collect testimonies from Palestinians. But none
of them were prepared to testify or give his name. They fear that their
work permits might be taken away from them. (A worker working at a
settlement is meant to earn a minimum wage, in accordance with the law
in Israel, but in practice he earns less than half that.) Still we
continued talking to the workmen hoping that collecting testimonies on
an assault on a pregnant woman, will make it clear to the female
soldier that if she complains a counter complaint will be presented.
One of the policewomen tried to prevent us from talking to the
Palestinians and attempted to chase us away from the checkpoint. She
approached the Military Police officer who was pleasantly conversing
with us and ordered him to stop the conversation. In reaction the
officer stepped away from the checkpoint together with us.
The complaint against the women was cancelled, perhaps because the
investigating policeman was convinced that the women had not been
behaving violently, and perhaps our 'performance' had achieved its
purpose. But the women were not released. Their work permits weret
taken away from them as well as their IDs. The Military Police officer
filed a report to the DCO (District Coordination in charge of permits)
about an attempt to cross the border illegally. The significance of
this report is clear: the permanent loss of the work permit.
We tried to appeal to him, we told him they were not terrorists,
just two adult women trying to support their families, having a passage
permit. One has 10 children, the other is preanant and her husband is
ill. All they did was to try and to get to their work despite of
Holocaust Day in Israel.
As a reply the officer said that he was doing his duty and was
reporting what he saw. The DCO will decide. He added that if a hungry
child steals bread, in his eyes he was still a thief.
It was a lost cause. We went back to our car that was parked about
200 meters away from the Passage. We got involved in other
conversations and about ten minutes later the women reached us. They
had been released without their work permits. which of course had been
confiscated. But worse than that - they were not given back their
identity cards, nor were they issued with another document. They of
course did not know that it was illegal. We went back to the soldiers
and demanded the IDs. We received them immediately. The soldiers blamed
the women for leaving without them. One of the soldiers even blamed us,
as if our presence, 200 meters away from the Passage, created the
confusion which caused the soldiers to forget to return the IDs.
Well , it's good to have culprits... But at the end of it all , two hard up women lost the ability to support two families.
07:45 Qalqiliya Checkpoint
No queues. We saw no unusual incident and did no leave our car.
10:50 Anabta
No queues and ditto.  We observed the main road by the A-ras checkpoint and there as well we saw no queue.