Aanin checkpoint: the Palestinians' time does not count
16.45 – 14.30
A’anin Agricultural Checkpoint is open only twice a week, and the residents were informed recently that the checkpoint would open from 15:00 – 15:20 instead of from 15:30 – 16:00. We think that this is meant to cut down the number of people crossing, because the soldiers were not capable of dealing with 150-200 people at once during the short opening hours. Residents of A’anin who do not work in agriculture are unable to return earlier, so they are forced to return via a longer and more expensive route through Reihan – Barta’a Checkpoint. Four tractors and about 60 elderly people who had traveled to the seamline zone to run errands were already waiting next to the gate.
Women with children who were returning from family visits offered us apples to eat and sat down. Meanwhile people who were waiting told us that in the morning the checkpoint was only open from 07:00 – 07:15 instead of at 06:30.
A large number of people from A’anin received permits to cross at both A’anin and Reihan Barta’a Checkpoint, but others were refused and can only cross at one place. The reason for this is not clear.
Today is sunny and the two soldiers who are positioned here to guard the fence 24/7 were walking around and enjoying themselves lazily and enjoying the weather, while the Palestinians were forced to wait and wait as they did before. This waste of the Palestinians’ time is not taken into consideration.
There are renovations going on at the checkpoint. There are new embankments and poles have been placed along the fence that will be made three meters higher.
Hundreds of workers arrived in busses, transit vehicles, and cars at one time from Israel and from the seamline zone and walked down the sleeve towards the West bank to go home. They also complained about overcrowding and the length of time it takes to cross in the morning. They asked that the checkpoint open earlier, at 04:00 in the morning. Hagar spoke with the checkpoint vice-manager this morning who said they would consider the request. In addition, there are 10 places for examining people’s magnetic cards, but only five of them are operating at the exit to the terminal, which makes crossing much slower. There is also no separate lane for women to cross and the seamstresses are forced to move through the checkpoint together with the men, which is not acceptable. People suggested that the women be allowed to cross through the vehicle checkpoint outside on the road. One person told us that in the new large parking lot next to the checkpoint he has to pay NIS 400 each month for parking, and he knows that not everyone who comes are permanent workers. The fee in the other parking lots is only 10 NIS per day.
A large number of women and young people came out of the terminal towards the seamline zone. We are not accustomed to such large numbers of young people. They are evidently students from the seamline zone and Tura Checkpoint is closed on Tuesday morning in response to the shooting from Tura to Shaked. S. explained that the soldiers had taken over a house in the center of Tura and hung an Israeli flag on the roof. There are 21 soldiers using the house, including the bathroom. They will remain there as “grass widows ” until they find the source of the shooting.
People came up to us and told us about their problems, and we gave cards with the details of Sylvia’s team who help people who have been banned from entering Israel.
On our way back we saw people walking down the sleeve holding flyers, and we met Asaf Adi from the Ma’an Organization is attempting to eliminate the illegal demands that people are making for Palestinians to pay NIS 2,500 a month to receive work permits. The courts have declared this practice illegal, but it is not enforced and Palestinians are still paying. The organization is attempting to issue green cards that will serve as both a work permit and permit to enter Israel and the seamline zone.
Tura Checkpoint was closed. We spoke with a major from the regional “Menashe” unit who said the checkpoint would remain closed until the soldiers would remain in the house in Tura until the shooters were located.