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From the field

Testimony: Teacher from Jordan Valley tells of daily delays at a checkpoint on his way to and from school in Northern West Bank, April 2011

Khairi Suaftah, 47Khairi Suaftah, Teacher

I live in Bardala. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science from al-Quds Open University in Tubas. After I completed my studies, I took a job as a teacher at the school in al-‘Aqrabaniya. After that, I taught at a school in Tamun, and two years ago, I transferred to the boys high school in Tayasir. All three schools are located west of the Tayasir checkpoint, and I have to cross it daily, in the morning and again in the afternoon.

Since it takes from 15 minutes to an hour to cross the checkpoint, I leave the house about 6:00-6:15 in the morning to make sure I get to work on time. The soldiers do not search the vehicles leaving the Jordan Valley. They only check the ID cards of the people in the car. Nevertheless, there are occasional delays due to the mood of the soldiers, to the security situation, and to the length of the line. Every day, I get to school at a different time, but since I leave the house early, I’m generally not late.

On rare occasions, the checkpoint is completely closed. That happened last year, and I had to go via the Hamra checkpoint, to Tubas and then to Tayasir. I arrived late at school and the trip cost me a lot of money.

My main problem is on the way home. The checks and searches at the checkpoint for people entering the Jordan Valley are more stringent. The soldier make the passengers get out. They wait to be checked and then cross the checkpoint by foot. This takes lots of time, sometimes a few hours, especially if there is security activity in the area or an alert. If the soldiers are eating lunch, the wait is even longer. They stop working and we stand there under the sun or in the cold until they let us cross. Sometimes, we are allowed to wait inside the car.


Tayasir Checkpoint, in the Jordan Valley. Photo: Keren Manor, 26 December 2010,
Tayasir Checkpoint, in the Jordan Valley. Photo: Keren Manor, 26 December 2010,

When we enter the Jordan Valley, the cars wait in line at the checkpoint. When the car reaches the front of the line, the passengers get out and wait until the soldiers call them to enter the checkpoint, where they search them.

In the winter, we sometimes wait in the rain until the soldiers call us to come forward, and in the summer, when the line is long , we have to sit a long time in the hot car. It sometimes lasts for an hour or two, which is very tiring. The soldiers don’t let the passengers get out before their turn comes to be checked.

There are no bathrooms at the checkpoint, which creates problems and embarrassing situations now and then.

The running of the checkpoint varies, depending on the unit staffing it and on the particular soldier involved. For example, when we are seven people in a vehicle, the soldiers sometimes let us enter in one block, and sometimes they order us to enter one after the other, which takes lots of time. As I said, it depends on the soldier’s mood.

I sometimes get home at 1:00 P.M., sometimes at 3:00, and sometimes later. It’s impossible to predict. It is very frustrating. Also, my family never knows whether to wait for me before eating.
I like my work at the school, but I suffer greatly from the daily crossings of the checkpoint. My wife and sons also suffer from the situation. Whenever I’m late, they worry and call me to make sure I’m all right. I often think about switching schools because of the delays, but no jobs are available in the area. I have not choice but to continue at the same job and hope that the situation improves.

Khairi Hassan Rashid Suaftah, 47, married with five children, is a teacher and a resident of Bardala in Tubas District. His testimony was given to 'Atef Abu a-Rub on 6 April '11 at the school in Tayasir.