Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
'Anabta, Falamiya, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Tue 19.6.12, Afternoon
. Ten youths wait in the shed. One carries a cage of small song birds, canaries, a second with a passiflora seedling that will bear fruit in a month. Both are proud of their purchases; we congratulate them.
The gate is closed. We don’t see the army. A horse cart and driver join those waiting.
The army vehicle finally arrives. The crew starts getting organized. Today it’s hot; everyone waits patiently, 13 men and one woman. We notify the humanitarian office that the gate didn’t open on time. We asked the female MP what happened; she said they had trouble with the vehicle.
The first group from Habla approaches the revolving gate. The gate next to us is still closed.
Two vehicles with yellow license plates on the patrol road. We’re told they belong to a company repairing the fence. The first five from our side enters the inspection station.
The large gate opens; a truck loaded with saplings is inspected and crosses toward the plant nurseries.
The first group from our side approaches the gate, which is still closed. No one complains. The Occupation routine.
Meanwhile a Palestinian approaches us, asking that we tell his story – a tale of racism. He was born in Habla and lived there with his family until his first wife died of cancer. Twelve years ago he married a woman from Jaljulya and they had three children. His wife isn’t permitted to enter Habla, and he receives permits that are valid for only one year. Each year he must request a renewal of the permit so he can go to Habla to visit his family. He’s worked in Israel since age 20 and speaks fluent Hebrew. It pains him that his name doesn’t appear on the birth certificates of his three children who were born in Israel. His wife is handicapped; his thumb was cut off in a work accident and his family lives below the poverty line.
Finally, after 40 minutes, the Palestinian driving the horse cart goes through. Two tractors and a car come from the village.
After the young men leave the shed, three bags of second-hand clothing remain. Residents of Habla weren’t allowed to bring them in. Only agricultural produce may enter through this gate. Second-hand clothing endangers Israel’s security!
We leave the gate and stop at the plant nursery for a short visit.
Eliyahu gate – Two cars being inspected, the trunk lids open.
We turn right to Azzun, continue on a dirt road toward Falamya. It’s quiet here; a truck shows up a few minutes later. The driver gets out, goes to the inspection booth, and drives on a few minutes later.
Five bored soldiers in position. They tell us that many people go through at 6 AM.
Streets in Falamya are deserted. It’s afternoon, and hot.
The road north to the village of Sur is wide and has been upgraded.
We turn east toward Funduq and right to Bet Lid. We reach Bet Lid on a lovely, winding road, and continue to Anabta. A soldier in the guard tower; traffic flows in both directions and the coffee seller is still here.
– the concrete barriers are still here but cars go through freely. A driver who arrives tells us the crossing has been open for a month.
Jubara (Te’anim). Despite our tags and the flag, we go through without being stopped.
Irtach. Everyone’s hurrying home. A river of people. They tell us things have improved in the mornings, the crossing goes more quickly. One person adds, with a grin, “All thanks to you.”
A bus enters the interior parking lot. A security man rushes toward the women getting out quickly, tries rudely to stop them. He reports over the walkie-talkie that he was surprised by the bus’s arrival, and that there are also two women here from Machsom Watch. He tells me I’m not allowed to photograph. He tries to control the situation, makes impolite comments to the women, but is given an order over the walkie-talkie and lets them all through, to return home after visiting inmates in Israeli jails.
16:00 We leave.