Northern Checkpoints: The Occupation ticks like a bomb that forgot to explode

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Neta Golan and Shuli Bar (reporting)

Barta’a-Reihan Checkpoint 5:55 a.m.

This is one of the two large checkpoints in the northern West Bank (besides the Jalame Checkpoint), enabling pedestrians, vehicles and goods to pass between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Palestinians, fortunate to have obtained work permits in Israel, either cross here, or no longer do so for the procedures and instructions appear to change according to the needs of the checkpoint operators. The checkpoint is operated by a civilian security firm that is under the charge of the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

This hour used to be top rush-hour. Lately not all Palestinians who work in Israel are allowed to cross here, and they’re desperate. Worker traffic, consequently, has considerably lessened. Who is happy about these worsening conditions? The inspectors at the terminal, perhaps? People quickly cross the metal installation, the many tracks and turnstiles (four of each) and enter the terminal, where their IDs and bags will be checked. At the opening, a slight crowding is noticed, that disperses later.

The slight silver lining – on our way to our car, people call out to us warmly, and greet us with a bi-lingual “good morning!” Some slight solace at this tiny pinpoint in the universe: many Palestinians and two Jewish women are happy to meet for a moment.

Anin Agricultural Checkpoint 6:30 a.m. (opened twice a week, in the morning and in the afternoon)

The front gate (one of three) of this checkpoint no longer locks. It is kept open. Behind the locked third – furthest – gate wait farmers from Palestinian village Anin, most of them on their way to their olive groves, that once used to be near their home and are on the other side of the moon – across the Separation Fence.  Few may cross with their tractor into the territories, and today they are three. The Military Policemen arrive late and quickly let about 15 people through. According to one of the Palestinians there are 140 farmer’s permits for the villagers who number about 4000… Even this is not evident by the small number who do cross here every morning since the olive harvest. Perhaps, says that person, people prefer to go to Barta’a Checkpoint further along, and then return through it at a later hour than Anin.

If you can – punish them! An Anin villager who was registered at the Anin Checkpoint in the morning but returned home through the Barta’a Checkpoint will lose his permit the next time he comes to Anin Checkpoint.

Tayibe-Roumana Agricultural Checkpoint (opened twice a week, in the morning and in the afternoon)

The same Military Policemen from Anin Checkpoint operate this one as well, situated at the foothills of Umm al Fahm, one of the largest Arab urban communities in Israel. Here land owners from Tayibe and Roumana villages (in Palestine) who hold permits cross over, and some of them proceed to their lands, behind the Separation Fence.

This morning the crossing is swift, the weather is perfect, and if the Palestinians travelling across feel desperation and frustration these are hidden behind a smile and a good morning greeting. Good morning, fine morning, a morning of flowers…