Residents of the village of A’anin are once again forbidden to bring discarded items across the checkpoint

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Neta Golan (photo), Shuli Bar (reporting), with Michelle Spector, Doctoral Student from MIT

Barta’a Checkpoint, 06:00This is the largest checkpoint in the north and has been renovated several times at tremendous cost to meet the needs of Palestinians who cross here.  The people who designed this checkpoint did not predict the increasing needs of the large number of people crossing to East Barta’a, the seamline zone and to Israel.   They also could not foresee the scuffles that break out in the mornings when large numbers of workers who are in a hurry to get to work but are held up by the slow checkpoint system.   Another thing the planners did not foresee is the construction of the city of Harish south of the Iron Junction, which draws thousands of construction workers from all over the West Bank – many of whom want to cross through the nearest checkpoint of  Barta’a to get to work at the nearest Harish.  Instead of finding a solution to the heavier traffic it was decided to decrease the number of workers permitted to cross here to avoid crowding.  The main thing was to ensure that the checkpoint is quiet and that Palestinians have to make a huge detour detour and travel further in order to cross at other checkpoints.   

From Barta’a Checkpoint we hurried on to A’anin agricultural checkpoint and from there to the Tibeh Romena beneath Um Al Fahem which is also an agricultural checkpoint.  These checkpoints are open on Mondays and Wednesdays to enable farmers to cross to their fields from which they are separated by the separation barrier.   

Fewer people than usual crossed at both agricultural checkpoints  because many permits were not renewed.  Everyone is anxious about the approaching olive harvest.  Each year people wait anxiously to see whether their permits will be renewed. 

Today the few who came crossed and things remained quiet.   

Despite the lovely sunrise, the warm greetings from out Palestinian friends, and even the friendly wave we received from a policewoman, our shifts observing the checkpoints are always always sad and frustrating .