Barta'a checkpoint: very crowded and stuck in the mornings

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Neta Golan and Shuli Bar (report, photo), Translated Danah Ezekiel

06.00 - 08.00

At the Barta'a-Reihan checkpoint on the seam zone side, lots of vehicles and people mingled with each other, all with the urgent goal of getting to work on time. At the checkpoint itself, masses of Palestinians crowded the passage shed to the terminal from the outside, and then got stuck and crammed inside it with no ability to move. The sight was terrifying and outrageous, we had never seen such a huge mass of people here including women.  Occasionally the aisle opens, the queue moves a little and instantly closes. People told us - do something, it's impossible - and we just stood by them helplessly. But there was no commotion. There was no shoving or shouting like there used to be in the past. In fact it was pretty quiet, with an atmosphere of "this is what it is". We then passed next to the shed in the carousel area and measured time. Thus we found that the aisle opened every minute and a half for a minute and a half. Inside the shed people did not push, and when they left they did not rush to the terminal. Maybe fatigue? Maybe knowing that it does not matter? But within a quarter of an hour the density disappeared, the shed emptied and the rate of passage left the shed quite vacant.

6,000 men and women pass through here in the mornings, and despite its size the terminal is still limited in its absorption and transport capacity. It is impossible to flow people in non-stop in a situation of such a load (as the Palestinians requested) and the situation got better and stabilized in a fairly short time. We left the place when it calmed down and on the way to the car we told ourselves - at least they are moving to work, there is a livelihood and how important that is.

In the meantime, two guys approached us. One asked that we extract the identity card and magnetic card of a relative from Ya’abed, who was detained for two days in prison and released without these crucial certificates. Unfortunately we can only try to help him after the holiday. The other, a young man from the village of Ra'i in the Jenin sub-district, asked for help in cracking the riddle of why is he GSS prevented? At the Barta'a checkpoint, he was told that he had a "police ban" that he said he did not have, and at the DCO he was also told that he did not have one, but at Barta'a he was still barred from passing. He received Sylvia's contact details from us.

After a very long break we drove to the Taibeh-Romana checkpoint, located east of Umm al-Fahm. The road leading down to the checkpoint was empty of rocks and obstacles, which young people from Umm al-Fahm placed there during the period of breaches in the fence, in order to prevent West Bank residents from entering the city (and to possibly extort transit fees). The checkpoint was empty, we were supposed to be on the early side but the drama at the Bartaa checkpoint delayed us. A tent of the fence guards, made of camouflage sheets, protruded above the checkpoint’s gate, and two sleepy soldiers, whose rest we’ve disturbed, came out to meet us with a cup of coffee in hand. We exchanged polite greetings and moved on.

We passed by the Anin checkpoint without entering because all the passers-by had already gathered outside the checkpoint, at the intersection, and were waiting for whom it wasn’t clear.

At the Tura Shaked checkpoint as usual, the soldiers worked slowly and were in no hurry to open at the appointed time. On Tura's side waited a group of men and women and a number of vehicles. On the side of the seam zone a small number of shuttles were waiting. Students started arriving to move to the school in Tura. We greeted a boy with “good morning” in his mother tongue but he was careful not to look at us.