'Anin, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 24.7.08, Morning

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Sima S., Anna N.S.
Translation: L.W

05:00 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
Scores of people crowded into the entrance, women sitting on the side as usual. From the guard’s hut, the usual morning "pearls": “Sacher el bab [close the gate], sacher el bab, I told you, nu sacher already, Iftchou el bab [open the gate] yalla, taalu [by god, come here], hamsa, hamsa, bas [five only]. I said five, not twenty! Back off! Yalla nu lura [back]. Futu, futu, wahad wahad [pass].”

On the way to the temple, shoes off, bags open. Everything as usual! The crow outside moves in. The residents remain waiting in single file this time at the entrance to the terminal.

05:25 – the checkpoint empties out, and whoever comes now enters the terminal,immediately. Two private cars are being checked, by the dog too. Four pickups loaded with vegetables in the parking lot.

05:30 – the seamstresses say there is a jam in the terminal, and only one position is working. After half an hour we are told that another window opened. Going through the terminal usually takes 20-35 minutes.

06:00 Aanin Checkpoint
Traffic is slow. First of all the (four) tractors, then the people. The checking process is routine. The pace is a few minutes per person, then it picks up. Loud voices of people waiting on the slope. People exiting say that there are arguments about positions in the line. No wonder, people have been waiting since an early hour of the morning, there is no shade, nowhere to sit. The soldiers lose patience and try to calm things but only increase the tension.

07:05 Shaked (Tura) Checkpoint
A flock of scores of sheep is flooding the checkpoint. A flight of seagulls passes over the soldiers’ heads from one end of the checkpoint to the other, perhaps to show that they can... a moment of imaginary pastoral tranquillity. Residents of the West Bank crowded at the entry to the inspection hut. For a long time no one comes and no one goes. After seven minutes we talk to a soldier about it, and he goes to see what is happening. A minute more and the jam unravels for a short while. The soldier says that the checker in the hut is new and hasn’t yet got the hang of the complicated task. Before we leave, he promises to help the other soldier to speed up the transit.

07:30 Aanin Checkpoint
Not everyone has passed yet . An anxious woman is trying to get back to her home in Aanin. She is the only one in the family to have an agricultural permit. Neither her husband nor her children can come with her. She hoped that the soldier would show consideration and pass her blacklisted son, without a permit. The soldier did not, and how was she to work alone? The soldier agrees to let her through on condition that I explain to her – next time that she goes through, she can only return at 15:00. I am to tell her that today he will be considerate – doing her a favour, letting her go home. Did she understand? There should be no doubt... next time she won’t go through and back. This isn’t a promenade. Let the son get a permit at the DCO. I promised him that the woman, completely consumed by anxiety and tension, understood everything, just let her through already... 

Around 100 people and a heavy vehicle have already passed. Some were sent back because “they are trying to fool us.”

07:50 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
Scores of people passing in both directions, mostly to the Seam Zone. Drivers resting in the shade of their vehicles till inspection. Bored taxi drivers wait for passengers. Meanwhile they are telling jokes. Laughing at themselves and at the whole world. Yesterday they blocked the roads in the area of Ramallah and Jenin in honour of Obama. What do we care about Obama? Because of him the roads were closed for long hours. In Yaabed the water pump was not functioning, and the residents were forced to buy water from a tanker that circulated in the village. Five cubic metres of water for 170 shekels.

An older man in uniform, armed with a gun, parks his car in the middle of the road and asks for a ride to Mevo Dotan. Finally he decides to wait for a bus to the settlement (#27) and then drive behind it. “That’s okay?” there are two roads in the West Bank: one for Palestinian residents and other Arabs, and one for Israelis. Between them sit the guard huts. The former are required to undergo the persistent and humiliating process of inspection and interrogation, while the “elite” citizens pass through the checkpoints quickly.

A bus passes en route to Jenin. All its passengers (20) are delayed for inspection at the hut, and then they reboard and continue on their way. They don’t have to walk through the sleeveinfo-icon – that’s also something!

09:00 – we leave.