Barta'a - we were detained for questioning

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Neta Golan and Hannah Heller Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham

A bizarre meeting between two older women and three young soldiers at Barta’a Checkpoint 

Afternoon, 15.15 - 16.30

Policemen from the Border Patrol were standing  at the exit from the town of Harish on Route 611 leading to Barta’a Checkpoint and watching the traffic.  We didn’t see them stopping any cars carrying Palestinian workers who were returning to the West Bank. 

We drove past Barta’a Checkpoint towards Area B near the large parking lots that were filled with cars and still being expanded. 

We arrived at Hermesh Checkpoint on the road to Tulkarem. Cars were waiting in line in both directions next to the tent that was set up at the checkpoint. 

We drove east to Ya'bed -  Mevo Dotan Checkpoint   This is the last checkpoint that leads to Area A and Jenin where cars cross  from Barta’a and Tulkarem.   Up till now the crossing was narrow  but the road has now been paved without any speed bumps. There were three stations where cars were checked and the crossing had been widened.  A soldier approached us and told us politely that we were parked in a no parking area.   

Barta’a Vehicle Checkpoint:  - Evidently it was reported that we were present at Hermesh and Mevo Dotan Checkpoint to the army and to the security guards at Barta’a Checkpoint who stopped us.  A security guard asked us to stop and wait for the person responsible for security at the checkpoint .  He arrived but didn’t say anything  because three soldiers arrived in an armored vehicle to question us and got out with their weapons.  We attempted to explain to them about MachsomWatch patiently and they asked about where we had been and what we were doing. They said they were waiting for their commander.  One of them summarizes on his phone what he understood and after he had finished they let us go. 

Their investigation continued for about half an hour.   The encounter was very depressing.  The soldiers showed incredible ignorance. They had no idea about left and right in the Israeli reality. They knew nothing about the Green Line or the difference between a town in Israel and a settlement in the West Bank. They were totally unfamiliar with the word “occupation.”

We stopped near the long sleeveinfo-icon that connects the upper parking lot of Barta’a Checkpoint and the terminal that leads to the West Bank.  We were able to observe the hundreds of workers returning to the West bank from their work in Israel and the seamline zone and residents of Barta’a who were returning home.  There were young people going to work in afternoon shifts and students  returning from the West Bank for the weekend. 

Tura Checkpoint – Cars were waiting to cross to the West Bank and crossing was extremely slow.  Workers were returning from work in Israel and the seamline zone.  Most had crossed at the distant Barta’a Checkpoint in the morning because Tura Checkpoint  only opens at 07:15.  Women and children wearing festive clothing crossed to the West Bank. Young people were crossing in cars to  Um Reihan to visit and work.