Tayibe Rumanneh checkpoint: No one tells me what to do

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Observers:  Neta Golan, Shuli Bar (reporting) Translator:  Charles K.

North, 24.7.19, morning


06:00 Barta’a checkpoint :  Why do you keep expanding and upgrading such a large checkpoint while allowing fewer and fewer people to cross?

It was obvious to us this morning that more people (who’d already gone through the checkpoint) were waiting for transportation to work than had been the case on other recent mornings.  But their numbers were still not such as to indicate that Palestinians could again cross here to work in Israel.  Many more would return home from work through this checkpoint.

When we arrived at our “position” at the entrance to the crossing facility a small, 60-year old woman rushed toward us, one of the seamstresses from the workshops in western Barta’a (where once, long ago, we saw bedclothes being made for London’s Marks and Spencer!).  Her name is Rahmat, she’s from Yabed, and says she’s worked here 17 years (the contractor who hired her holds her crossing permit).  Today she was suddenly sent home without being told why.  Sa’id, a 26 year old young man, also approached us.  His shoes, spotted with cement, suggested he was a construction worker in Harish.  He has a crossing permit for Barta’a and a permit to work in Israel, both valid, and he also was stopped today.  We tried to understand what happened.  They were stopped at the biometric device and when they went through they continued to the right while the others turned left.  That’s the reason, they said.  “Because we turned right, not left with the others.”  Someone in the checkpoint administration, who didn’t give her name, said she knows who we’re referring to, that woman knows why she was sent home.  That woman insisted on repeating her story to us again and again.  With the help of translators whose Hebrew was better than my Arabic, we learned that today wasn’t the first time.  One day last week she’d crossed as usual and then wasn’t allowed through for two consecutive days.  And it’s always related somehow to the fact she turns right.  And why, we asked, do you turn right, not left with the others?  But we didn’t understand the reply, nor did those helping to translate.  The person from the checkpoint administration wouldn’t tell us why they were sent home.  Is it because the occupation benefits from the fact “they” can’t know the reasons?  We wrote down the information and will try to understand the riddle, and perhaps help.

06:30  A’anin agricultural checkpoint

A slight delay opening the checkpoint allowed us to observe the crossing from the beginning.  Few crossed on foot; there were two tractors.  One of the Palestinians whose been crossing here for a long time – he seems to be at least 55 – works as a gardener.  He’s paid NIS  250/day, and pays NIS 60 for transportation.  He takes home NIS 190-200/day, and thanks God for them.

07:00 Tayibe/Rumanneh agricultural checkpoint

Only a few people crossing on foot here also, and one red tractor owned by Abu Ali who always screeches to a stop very near us to ask “how are you” and continues on his way, satisfied by our reply.  We met a new face at the checkpoint, someone crossing here for the first time, angry because he was told to come back through here in the afternoon.  We explained the danger to him, but he insisted.  No one tells me what to do, I’m not coming back through here, no way.