Via dolorosa for Palestinians at the Barta’a checkpoint – MAAN report

MAAN – Workers’ Association closely follows the issue of Palestinians working in Israel and the difficulties they face. This is an important issue for us as a trade union active in Israel, organizing workers regardless of their nationality, religion, official status or ethnicity.

As part of this work, we recently raised the problem of sexual harassment against women at the Sha’ar Ephrain (el-Taibeh) checkpoint. In this case, MAAN’s intervention led to a permanent solution. Following this, as a result of MAAN becoming known among Palestinian workers, we received many complaints from such workers about the Barta’a (Reihan) checkpoint in the northwest West Bank, along with photos showing the situation there.

On Nov. 27, MAAN staff led by Wafa Tayara visited the checkpoint. It became clear that the workers there are subject to pressure and harassment on a daily basis:

  1. Crowding and delays that make it hard to get through the checkpoint: According to information obtained by MAAN, steps have recently been taken that have increased the pressure at the checkpoint, above all the change in opening time from 4 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. In addition, on some days only five of the 10 machines for checking the workers’ magnetic cards are operational. This results in increased pressure and chaos.

The solution here is clear: the checkpoint must be opened from 4 a.m. and all the card-reading machines must be operational.

  • The lack of a gate dedicated to women makes it difficult if not impossible for them to pass the checkpoint early in the morning: Women who regularly go through the checkpoint reported to MAAN staff that many are compelled to squeeze together with the men in the crowded checkpoint gates early in the morning, which they find humiliating. Some wait till the men have gone through, and come to the checkpoint only at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., to avoid harassment.

There should be a gate for women only, as there now is in Sha’ar Ephraim (near Tul Karem), which solved the problem there.

  • The waiting area on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint is an open space, without a roof and with only two toilets which are supposed to serve thousands of workers waiting for long hours each day.

A roof must be erected and the number of toilets increased, and an area must be set aside for prayer.

  • Many workers come to the checkpoint in private vehicles. They are not permitted to enter Israel in their own vehicles, but there is no organized parking at the site. Certain people have taken advantage of this situation, opening a parking lot and charging each worker NIS 400 per month for parking. In addition, the IDF makes sure that any area available for free parking is closed off to the workers. Workers who park on the side of the main road are disproportionately penalized, even losing their work permits for unspecified periods of time. In this way the security services leave the Palestinians no choice but to pay the high costs of parking.

The solution here is clear and not costly: a free parking area must be organized.

In summary – the workers at Barta’a checkpoint report very difficult conditions which are easily and cheaply solvable. The security services must ensure that people are treated humanely and with dignity on their way to work.

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אנא כתבו את שמכם המלא, טלפון ותיאור קצר של נושא הפנייה, ונציג\ה של מען יחזרו אליכם בהקדם האפשרי.

رجاءً اكتبوا اسمكم الكامل، الهاتف، ووصف قصير حول موضوع توجهكم، ومندوب عن نقابة معًا سيعاود الاتصال بكم لاحقًا








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