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Because Israel is building the Wall through the West Bank rather than along its border, many West Bank Palestinian villages are now stranded in the “Seam” area between the two. Azzun Atma is an example. Azzun’s families are cut off from most of their schools, shops, land, and loved ones, and they live in what is rapidly becoming for all intents and purposes part of Israel. However, they are denied the basic rights granted to their Israeli neighbors because they do not have citizenship.

The villagers who work or live in Azzun Atma now rely on permits on their own land in their own homes, and to move to and from their own village. They apply at Qedumim settlement and they have to renew them every 6 months. Meanwhile, Jews are encouraged to move into settlements on Azzun’s land. They don’t need permits. I could move there next month, if I wanted to.

Azzun Atma villagers who want to enter other parts of the West Bank must pass through a checkpoint in the Wall. That’s the easy part—the hard part is getting back to their village. The checkpoint’s westward passage involves extremely long waits and then passage through a body-screening device rumored to be an x-ray machine, like those installed by Israel at the Rafah international crossing from Gaza. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, the x-raying has raised serious concerns about adverse health effects and violations of privacy.

Shelly--an Israeli activist--and I went to Azzun Atma to do Checkpoint Watch. When we arrived at 7 a.m., there were 25 people waiting to go through, either in cars or standing in line to show their IDs. I asked a man at the front of the line how long he’d been waiting and he said 2 hours. He said one has to get there between 4 and 5 a.m. to avoid the lines. Security going into Azzun is strict because crossing is effectively entering Israel. The reality is the people waiting in line do not want to go to Israel, they simply want to go to their homes and jobs in Azzun village. Israel unilaterally built the Wall inside the West Bank, but the Palestinians are the ones who have to come before dawn to get somewhere that used to be as close as their backyard. Checkpoint Watch at Azzun Atma continued...