Barta'a checkpoint: It Girl with a hijab

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Neta Golan and Shuli Bar (photos and report)

In the north-western checkpoints of the occupied West Bank, where the northern group of MachsomWatch usually places its vigils, there is a relatively small number of colonies, most of them ‘secular’, and apparently without nationalist aspirations. Therefore, our volunteers are at times able to enjoy sunrises, blooming flowers and meetings with old friends. Problems abound, of course, mostly around transit and work permits inside Israel (sudden prevention, non-issued permits). Since the breaches in the Separation Fence were sealed and in view of massive issuing of permits, the Barta’a checkpoint is filled with people in the morning hours. Many people also cross the Anin agricultural checkpoint twice a week.


Barta’a Checkpoint 5:05 a.m.

The Accordion Ritual

At the lower checkpoint from which the terminal is entered and passage into Israel is possible, there was a very crowded waiting line as we arrived, inside and in front of the transit shed. However, the waiting line was moving and was over within a minute and a half. 'Clients' of this checkpoint send us photos showing greater crowding since 4:30 a.m. as well as long waiting to cross – an hour and a half and more. Apparently this does not happen every morning. Today we saw a usual ritual of crowding for a minute or two and moving on within a minute or two. Again and again.

The number of people crossing at Barta’a grows because no more breaches in the fence reduce the pressure at the checkpoints. There is massive issuing of work and transit permits into Israel, and mostly – the terminal is limited in its capacity to move human masses in short periods of time.

Oof, if only peace would come

We met a young woman dressed like an ‘it girl’ from Tel Aviv, entirely up to date, standing close to the entrance of the crossing shed, and looking hesitant whether or when to jump into this male mass and risk ‘friction’. She covered her face with a large black kerchief, a sort of young and modern version of the Hijab. This is Nur from Ya`abad village, working in Harish City (Israel) in one of the shops. She speaks Hebrew, sounds nice, we liked her.

We encouraged her to get in line, and she hurried and was disappeared there.

07/00 Anin Agricultural Checkpoint, opened only twice a week

Two soldiers guard the fence (they are not in charge of opening the gate). They stand facing the locked gate at the center of the checkpoint, in front of dozens of people waiting on the other side of the gate. Waiting. More waiting (see photo). The Military Police were about 45 minutes late, and when they arrived, passage began almost immediately. A young man approached us and said his brother was detained because he was ‘caught’ with an army sweatshirt bearing the inscription Tabor Battalion. Good gracious!

In the checkpoint that had emptied there was a huff and a puff around a heavy-set guy wearing a short-sleeved shirt (and it was a cold day), it sounded as though the military policemen were consulting someone on the phone (Smutrich?). We got as close to them as the law allows, and a sergeant and a policewoman approached us. A conversation ensued from which one could easily guess that this was a Ben Gvir boy who holds ignorance to be of prime importance, and is sure that he has just discovered a network of military equipment thieves, having grown up on a plant where the word ‘occupation’ does not even exist, and naturally, ‘everything is ours’. The suspected fellow claimed the sweatshirt was bought in a Jenin market, but can you believe him? Half an hour later he was released and went on his way (in short sleeves), and the incriminating evidence remained in the hands of the soldiers.