Northern Checkpoints: Treacherous Tranquility

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Marina Banai (report and camera) and Ruti Tuval

14:30 on Route 611

A teenage boy and a young child walk with confidence towards the breached system-road on their way to the West Bank.

We pass at the Barta'a-Rihan checkpoint, which is very busy. The landfill’s trash spilled on the southern slope of the Palestinia side’s parking lot sparkles in celestial trandescence.

 14:45 Hermesh checkpoint

Although the checkpoint is no longer active, concrete barriers  are still sitting on the road, restricting traffic to cars traveling in both directions. We visited a village of Palestinian farmers of Turkmen origin, called on Google Maps "Abu Kakus". The sheep crowded around the water troughs and in the field a few crocuses and many daisies bloomed. Two new tractors are at work in the field and there is a general appearance of activity and expansion.

On the way to the Ya’bed-Dotan checkpoint, a stacked heap of stones that was somehow connected to the checkpoint on the road to Maoz Zvi (Mevo Dotan II) caught our attention. We went to look.

Next we stopped to see the remnants of the deadly incident that occurred last week (21.12) a few hours after our shift, near the second pillbox. In the incident, IDF soldiers thwarted a ramming attack, which ended in the death of the Palestinian driver, in car having caught fire.

15:15 There were many soldiers at the Ya’abad-Dotan checkpoint when we arrived, but they disappeared immediately. From the top of the pillbox they blared at us, using a speaker: "Hello, is everything okay?" And later: "Please, get back in the car, this is a very dangerous place." We returned to the car.  Traffic at the checkpoint flowed without delays. A scrap truck loaded from ​​Area A (West Bank) turned at the junction in the direction of Mevo Dotan, possibly to the small Palestinian village at the foot of the settlement that’s known in Google Maps as "Jabal al-Aqra'a".

At Barta'a-Reihan checkpoint, by the entry point for truck inspection stood people loaded with large packages in their arms. We passed without being questioned this time…

15:45 Tura-Shaked checkpoint

Cheerful voices of soldiers yowling like cats greeted us. Women and children arrived at the Seam Zone through the sleeveinfo-icon (a fenced-in pedestrian lane) and were picked up in cars that had been inspected at the checkpoint. Today is the last day of a two-week study vacation, perhaps in honor of this, families from both sides of the separation fence went on visits.

It was bright and cold, and paraphrasing the expression “treacherous sun" (much light but no warmth), Marina described the atmosphere here as "treacherous tranquility".