You have a patrol and the role of the patrol is to open the agricultural gates for farmers (entrance gates into the Seam Zone – the part of the West Bank trapped between the Separation Barrier and the Green Line – designed to allow Palestinian farmers access to cultivate plots located beyond the Barrier). Now, on the face of it, it’s the simplest, most uncomplicated task, and there’s nothing, it’s not really that interesting. So I found myself every morning opening gates, closing gates, letting about 200 people through, checking their ID cards, letting them pass through to the other side. They come back, [you] open the gates for them, sometimes check their IDs, let them back in. And that’s broadly it. The people who crossed were mostly a lot of farmers, [they] would go through in tractors and stuff. There were also old women, there were also young people, but generally you see that most of them are just people who are going to work. You had the Crossings Military Police who were in charge of checking the IDs and I was charge of securing [the parameter]. It was during the time of the stabbings so we were a little on edge, so we’d open the door (gate) for them with helmets and with weapons and bullet-proof vests and so what would happen is a person would come out of the gate and there’s already a soldier who’s aiming a weapon at everyone. A person comes out of the gate, goes over to the security check area, a soldier is aiming a weapon in his face. [He] goes to the gate outside, another soldier is aiming a weapon at him. Three different soldiers are aiming their guns at him. Sometimes it would get to the point, they (the Military Police) would check them and would want to ensure that they (the Palestinians) are coming to work in agriculture, what they’re, like, supposed to be doing. So I had this one time when he (the Palestinian) was, it was like surreal. The person arrived, it was in the morning, arrives at the security check area, the Military Police [soldiers] tell him: “Get out of here, go home, you’re all in nice jeans, look at you, there’s no way you’re here to go to work.”
Where was this?A gate across from Deir al-Ghusun.
But did he have a permit?He had a permit, he had everything.
So the Military Police [soldier] can decide, it’s within his authority to decide whether he goes through or not, even though he has a permit?Listen, as far as I’m concerned as a soldier, while I’m like in charge of security, it was cool. What do I mean by cool? As far as I’m concerned he (the Military Police soldier) is the one who decides. Which is, you know, it’s a Military Police [soldier] who’s like... I don’t know how much what he’s doing even interests him and... And anyway, so he (the Palestinian) went back, went out the gate, went back to the red part, to the Palestinian part. We all saw him go, get his clothes dirty, come back and then he (the military police soldier) let him through.
What’s the point?There is no point, it’s shit, because these areas (the areas of the Seam Zone) are actually theirs (the Palestinians’) and every morning they need special permission to go to an area that’s theirs because the fence (Separation Barrier) was built [there]. Truth is, I don’t know what the logic is of building the fence in that particular place. Your daily routine is to [stop] whoever isn't there to go to work, because who knows what he’s going to do. And if he comes dressed too nicely, then he’s not coming to work, he’s coming to hang out in Baqa al-Gharbiyye. [But] the man has a work permit, [so] how does that have anything to do with it? The work permit doesn’t have a dress code.