Barta'a-Reihan checkpoint in the morning - terrible overcrowding, pushing, shouting

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Marina Banai and Ruthi Tuval (Report and photos) Translated: Danah Ezekiel Clark

14:45 We parked for a moment near  Luxor adjacent to the breach in the fence where the shuttle station used to be. One car was parked there but no one walked on the path leading to the breach. The village is empty of vehicles. It seems that its residents' livelihoods have been severely damaged.

Minutes later, in the Barta'a-Rihan checkpoint parking lot, on the “Seam Zone” side - three buses and many more vehicles than usual. Groups of workers are flocking, already at this early hour, towards the "sleeveinfo-icon" that finally, after twists, detours and three turnstiles - opens into the parking lot on the Palestinian side. Two members of the A. family, old acquaintances, approach us. H. tells us, with great agitation, about what happened in the morning at the entrance to the checkpoint: terrible overcrowding, pushing, shouting. He shows us a video, and we’re appalled. He agreed to transfer it to us:

An older, tiny woman joined us and excitedly described what had happened to her in the morning. From her body language, we understood that she almost choked and fainted in this terrible crowded situation.

We continued to the parking lot on the Palestinian side. It was less crowded and we managed to park. This morning's "holding pen" remained dirty, lined with bottles.

The workers hurry home. Some respond and stop to tell us that the army roams the villages at night, and the children are scared. Someone says that he knew the terrorist from Ya’bad (the attack in Bnei Brak): "a super quiet guy from a rich family, he lacked for nothing, I don’t know what came over him."

Two large Palestinian ambulances approached the southern gate of the checkpoint, stopped and waited, we know not for whom. We continued to the Tura checkpoint.


16:15 Tura-Shaked checkpoint

An elderly man who comes from his place of work in the Shahak industrial area (in the seam zone) which is ten minutes drive from his house, tells what we have heard from many others in this area, that in the morning he had to pass the Bartaa checkpoint, an hour and a half ordeal, to be on time for work.  4 cars are waiting to move to the West Bank. We approach the driver sitting in his car. "The situation at the checkpoint is intolerable," he says. He lives here, in nearby Dahr al-Malah and Ya’bad is his district city. "Yesterday I stood at the checkpoint on the other side (West Bank side) for two and a half hours!" Why? "There are new soldiers here. The soldier tells me: When I want - I transfer you. Like this." The soldier allows him to carry only a few things, for example, one package of pitas, and he has to travel every day and waste fuel.

At 16:50 Waze advised us to go back through Wadi Ara and Megiddo Junction, so we decided to hop in to see what was happening near the large breach in the fence, which has been functioning for a long time, almost officially, in Umm al-Fahm. The road was deserted but near the wide gate two large police vehicles were parked. Two policemen interrogated a young man and right before our eyes they handcuffed him and put him in their car.