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...
Falamiya, Habla, Jayyus, Wed 25.4.12, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
In the announcement by the IDF spokesman on 25.4.12 regarding the imposition of a total closure on Judea and Samaria it was stated that “during the closure, passage would be permitted only for humanitarian cases, physicians and exceptions, subject to the approval of the Civil Administration.
The IDF will continue to protect citizens of the State of Israel while remaining considerate of the Palestinians’ day-to-day lives.” http://www.idf.il/1153-15747-HE/Dover.aspx
On Memorial Day afternoon we went to examine how the final sentence in the announcement is being implemented in practice.
Traffic jams on the roads west of the Green Line delayed us greatly so that we reached our first stop, the Habla checkpoint, at 14:10, when the soldiers were preparing to lock the gates. A soldier standing there kidded around, berating us for arriving late. They allowed a youth driving a donkey cart to cross to Habla. The gate on the side of the inspection room was already closed when a car with yellow license plates arrived. A guy with a bandaged leg got out, limping toward the gate, on his way home. But it seems that the bandage, so far as “the Palestinians’ day-to-day lives” are concerned, provides an opportunity for the bureaucracy of occupation to make its presence known, based as it is on mistrust and suspicion. “Do you have a permit to enter Israel?,” asks the MP, a soldier in the regular army. “No, he’s coming from here, from the plant nurseries,” the driver replies. “It’s closed. Take him to 109. Let him cross there.” “But his permit is from here.” “Closed. Anyway, he’s dissembling. He’s not injured.” “Happy holiday,” says the driver angrily and turns around. “How do you know he’s not injured?,” we ask. “We know,” the soldiers say, without explanation.
We drove on to Jayyous even though we knew the checkpoint there would be closed, to say hello to the villagers we know. N. and A. weren’t at the station. Youths who were there told us the army entered the village yesterday firing tear gas grenades. No one was arrested. While we stood there M. approached us. First he was suspicious, wondering what Israeli women were doing in the village, challenging us, asking why we don’t go to the Eyal checkpoint.
He rises at 3 AM to reach the checkpoint in order to get to work in the center of the country. That’s because the inspection process takes a very long time, sometimes you have to stand unclothed in the rooms, also in winter, when it’s very cold. Sometimes a woman in a long dress is made to go through the scanner multiple times. And when he gets to work the boss will humiliate him. For example, once he ordered the workers to “clean very well. This isn’t Qalqiliya”… And he gets NIS 180 for a workday lasting more than 10 hours. (!) Nor can he escape the occupation when he’s home; he’s gone out into his yard and been confronted by a soldier pointing a gun at him. “If a cat had passed by, I would have shot him,” said the soldier. But while he continued to describe the routine of life under occupation he still expressed a desire to live together, and also told us about good experiences with Israelis.
Is that what’s meant by “remaining considerate of the Palestinians’ day-to-day lives”? Harassment, intimidation, detention, humiliation…
The Falamya gate is open. At this hour of the afternoon a man riding a bicycle arrived from the Seam Zone. We watched for a few minutes, and left.
We drove via Al Funduq toward Jit junction. As we passed the turn to Imtin we saw that the road to Imtin was closed by an improvised roadblock, a military vehicle, soldiers alongside standing next to Palestinians and their cars.
No soldiers in the inspection booths at Huwwara, Beit Furik and Za’tara; cars go through without stopping (although, apparently out of habit, a Palestinian bus at Za’tara uses the lane for Palestinians). On Highway 5, near the entrance to Kif'l Haret', is an army vehicle, two soldiers standing alongside.
The people of Israel are about to celebrate independence while “the Palestinians’ day-to-day lives” remain under occupation.