Hashmonaim (Ni'ilin), Makkabim (Beit Sira)

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Miriam Shayush, Ronit Dahan-Ramati (reporting).  Translator:  Charles K.


Ni’ilin checkpoint is very congested; conditions at Maccabim are reasonable.


We arrived at approximately 05:35 at Hashmonaim crossing (Ni'ilin).  We drove through the checkpoint and parked just beyond by the roadside.  We crossed the road and stood where people hop over the guard rail and descend the dirt path toward the checkpoint.  Food stands await them on the other side of the guard rail, and also below on the road from Ni’ilin.

Dawn was already breaking because of daylight saving time.  We saw great congestion at the entrance to the checkpoint.  Instead of the usual orderly lines there was a mass of people today and from time to time we heard yelling, apparently when more people were admitted.  We met a couple accompanying their small son to the hospital.  The mother said he’s been receiving treatment for cancer for three years.  They’re able to go through a separate gate near the vehicle checkpoint.  The vehicle checkpoint was also fairly congested.  We chose someone to track and see how long it takes him to cross.

After driving through the checkpoint it seemed there was more disorder than usual also on the Israeli side.  Many vehicles at the plaza, along the road and in the parking lot, primarily buses and minibuses transporting workers to their jobs.  We saw the mother and son at the plaza waiting for transportation to the hospital.  The father must have gone to work.

On our way to the checkpoint exit many people complained to us about how difficult and congested it is today.  We saw construction underway in the checkpoint area.  The wall being built and blue plastic sheeting conceal the little that’s still visible of what’s going on within.  Despite the congestion it seemed that people were exiting steadily, and “our” man came through in 20 minutes, no longer than usual.

But we nevertheless decided to determine whether there was any particular reason for today’s congestion; perhaps it was due to moving the clock back.  We walked toward the vehicle checkpoint and a guard approached us immediately.  He didn’t know why there was congestion and contacted the shift manager on his walkie-talkie.  The shift manager (who was polite) also said there wasn’t any special reason for today’s congestion, beyond the usual congestion on Sunday.  He said the area was deserted when they opened; the congestion began later as more people arrived.  He said they do their best to move people through quickly and efficiently.

Beit Sira

We returned to the cars and drove toward the Beit Sira (Maccabim) checkpoint.  We parked by the roadside, facing Modi’in, and walked down.  It was almost 06:30.  Many cars along the road, some double-parked, waiting for workers, and many workers waiting for their rides.  We chose someone to time who’d come from the direction of Safa/Beit ‘Ur al-Tahta.  It took him slightly more than ten minutes to go through.  Someone else told us that he went through in five minutes, and that things were OK today.  We left.