Barta'a checkpoint: Heavy vehicles are carving up the terraces

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Marina Banai and Ruti Tuval. Translation: Naomi Halsted

14:40 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint 

Workers are beginning to return to the West Bank from work in Israel and the Seamline Zone. We cross the checkpoint and park in the renovated parking lot opposite Zbeida to get a sense of the changes that have been made. A huge parking lot extends over the western slopes of the checkpoint and there’s another small lot adjacent to the first, the only one with asphalt. Heavy vehicles are carving up the terraces opposite and filling what's left of the beautiful valley. Brand new cars everywhere indicate some kind of economic prosperity, but we don’t forget Anwar, who has to pay NIS 2,400 a month to the Israeli “employer” from Netanya, who doesn’t provide him with a living but out of the goodness of his heart provides him with a permit allowing him to rustle up occasional days of work.

15:10 Ya’bed-Dotan checkpoint

Traffic is light right now. A soldier watches us from on high, in the pillbox (not on the roof). Drivers wave a greeting. A flock of sheep crosses the road in the distance – it’s pastoral.

We return to Barta’a checkpoint. Many people are now coming down the long-sleeveinfo-icon south of the West Bank. In front of the exit gate, they are questioned briefly: Who are you, where’ve you come from? On the way to Tura checkpoint, we wander a little around the industrial area on the outskirts of the Reihan settlement.

We make our annual visit to see the butterfly orchid. We meet with our acquaintance from the isolated house beside the Shaked settlement, who is working here at a factory that has been converted from renovating caravans to building fences. We ask him about the wall being built opposite his house and he confirms what we were told last week – they are now isolated more than ever. There is no eye contact with the village and “the shootings continue,” he grins.

We continue to the “outpost” at the edge of the area. There’s a café there already, but it’s only open on Fridays when volunteers come to work the land and play at being pioneers – a dozen or so hoes are piled up beside the abandoned hut in evidence. 

16:20 Tura-Shaked checkpoint

Cars pass through with no hold-ups. A few elegant women enter the sleeveinfo-icon, evidently on their way to a festivity in the West Bank. And the dirt all around doesn’t go away.