'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Mon 1.12.08, Morning
Translation: Galia S.
06:35 – Although it is still early, it seems that fewer workers are waiting. We are not sure whether it is because the passage has been quick or because fewer workers can pass.
06:40 – No lines. It looks as if the line exits solely for the sake of checking Israeli vehicles. All the other pass without inspection.
08:45 – There are about 13 vehicles at the exit from Tulkarm. It takes a car some 5-7 minutes to pass, according to our measuring. Random checks. Sometimes ID cards are checked, and other times they check baggage or simply wave cars to pass. There is no line at the entrance and most of the time no more than 2-3 cars are there.
08:55 – At the exit the situation hasn't changed and 13-15 vehicles are waiting.
A few pedestrians arrive and their ID cards are checked, which causes delays and within 2 minutes the line gets longer and over 20 vehicles are now waiting. A Hummer arrives with food and a number of soldiers to replace some of the current shift.
The post at the entrance is taken by a soldier who starts showing the Palestinians who is in control. It is at once obvious from the way he handles things, his hand gestures, his tone of speech, the demands to get back if a vehicle moves ahead too soon and the stricter checks that include baggage.
09:25 – The line at the exit is getting shorter, at last, mainly because they let a number of vehicles pass without stopping, probably in order to ease off the line.
During the entire shift the Israeli police stop vehicles to check documents, most likely looking for stolen cars.
Jubara and Ar-Ras
10:15 – An elderly woman, about 70 years old, is waiting at the Schoolchildren's Gate. She is a widow and has no children. Her mother lives in Jubara and she wants to get a permit to enter Jubara. In order to get it, the headman of the village has to confirm that her mother really lives there. It seems that many times in the past she succeeded in passing thanks to more understanding soldiers. The soldiers make efforts to get a permit for her but are unwilling to give in.
There are no lines at Ar-Ras. Vehicles are checked both at the entrance and at the exit.
The woman from the Schoolchildren's Gate comes back. We send her to sit in the shade while we try to find out what can be done. The "illustrious" checkpoint commander tells her to get up, takes the chair and puts it on the other side of the checkpoint, in the sun, where he tells her to sit. We have been trying to help her for over an hour while she has been sitting there in the sun. It seems to us (or rather we want to believe) that some of the soldiers are ashamed to see how an elderly woman, who could be their grandmother, is treated. In answer to our questions, one of the soldiers says that if she were his grandmother, he wouldn't let her go alone. His words suggest some discomfort, but to let her sit in the sun is probably OK!! One soldier is trying, alongside us, to clarify the matter and even brings the woman some water.
The Israeli police arrive (the same vehicle we saw at Anabta) and the first thing they do is kick us out, telling us to stand far away from the checkpoint. A policeman starts checking Palestinian vehicles. He raises hoods, checks the vehicles identification numbers and opens trunks. He confiscates a key that looks like a lock pick. He speaks Arabic and his tone of speech is vulgar and appalling. Nevertheless, he tries to help the woman and acts as our interpreter.
11:30 – It has taken a lot of phone calls, but Micky finally gets the village headman's phone number for us. Young women from Jubara who know the woman arrive. We ask them to help her arrange a meeting with the headman at Jubara gate and then take her back home to Tulkarm.
We go back home frustrated.