Checkpoint in Ratea: "Open early at four in the morning!"

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Hagar Dror Maliniak (camera), Adina (guest), Neta Golan (reporter)

14:00 Tura-Shaked checkpoint

Two boys and two girls in striped uniform dresses are coming home from school in Tura, which is on the other side of the checkpoint. The traffic is light in both directions. One of the people passing through is an older man wearing a red keffiyeh. The voice of the muezzin can be heard. An English-speaking Palestinian driver stops near us. He wants to talk. He’s really angry with Israel, which doesn’t listen to anyone, not even the Americans. He says the checkpoint is on land owned by his family. He lives in Ya’bed in the West Bank further down the road, but his family is in Daher el Maleh in the Seamline Zone. He complains that the checkpoint is closed in the evening and that women in labor and people in need of medical care have to go the long way round at night, to the checkpoint at Barta’a, and that there too, at night, it’s a hassle to get through. 

14:40 Barta’a Reihan checkpoint, Seamline Zone Side

A large number of people are already returning from their daily work at this time. We meet the seamstresses who work at the sewing factory in Barta’a. We’ve known them for a long time and they are happy to meet us. One of the security guards talks to us through the fence of the sleeveinfo-icon (covered walkway leading to and from the terminal). He warns us that all the people walking through the sleeve are Palestinians. People complain about the congestion this morning, which was particularly bad because the Jalameh checkpoint in the north had been closed after the body of an Israeli Druze who was injured and died in a road traffic accident near Jenin was abducted. Someone tells us that the women suffer particularly from the congestion because men push up against them and squeeze them. They say that people arrive at 3:00 a.m., even 2:30 a.m., even though the checkpoint opens at 4:30 a.m. They ask for it to be opened earlier at 4:00. On our way back, we come across something we haven’t seen before. A security guard stops a group of young people coming down the sleeve and takes their I/D cards. They are familiar with the scenario. After a short time, the cards are returned to their owners and they continue on their way.

Later, Hagar calls the checkpoint and speaks with one of the workers there. He says he will pass on the request to open the checkpoint at 4:00 to his superiors at the Ministry of Defense. We’ll see.

15:30 Anin checkpoint

People and laden tractors are already waiting at the entrance to the checkpoint. Soldiers guard the fence 24/7 in 12-hour shifts. Military police are also here. They open the middle gate but half close the gate leading to the Seamline Zone so that the people are made to go through one by one. When a tractor arrives, they open the gate wide.

Our acquaintance M., who lost his son, an officer in the Palestinian police, two weeks ago is still not capable of going to his land, but we meet one of his sons with the tractor.

15:50: The soldiers opened the checkpoint early and they want to close early too. We ask them to wait for everyone to come back from their lands and from work. In the meantime, people are arriving and getting through. We leave.