The central problem in today's watch is the continuing harassment, by the settlers from Maskiot, of beduins living below the settlement, focusing on the subject of water.
11.00 Shomron gate
There is a police car and an Israeli vehicle is being checked. Beyond the gate on the right a few new buildings are visible (opposite the Arab village Sarta).
No checks are performed in any direction. To the east of the square there is a military post and a military vehicle.
12.00 Maale Efrayim junction
A tractor and a truck are waiting. Road repairs in the direction of pazael.
12.20 Hamra checkpoint
Changing of the guard.
At the entry due west there’s a line of 6 cars. Checking is stopped and renewed after 10 minutes. Meanwhile the line has increased to 11 cars, which are now being examined randomly - some pass freely, some are checked, including a U.N. car.
A taxi driver from Nablus told us that one of his passengers is his daughter, who had a heart operation and is not supposed to leave the car. The driver had a letter in Arabic which the soldier could not read, and he demanded to see the daughter's surgery site. As expected the father refused and then another soldier let them pass.
Twenty minutes later there were no cars at the checkpoint.
On the way we passed a Bedouin encampment where people were making sheep’s milk cheese, which they sell in Nablus for 20 shekels a kg. They obtain water at Shibli well at 24 shekels per cubic meter.
At Maskiot we saw tractors equipped for soil cultivation, on the hill and below.
14.20 Tayasir checkpoint
En route we saw cultivated Palestinian fields and plots covered with plastic sheets.
The checkpoint is almost empty – one car west and 3 east. At the entrance Palestinians stand before being checked . They stand 30 meters from the entrance, and are called one by one to approach, including a woman carrying a baby and parcels who has to carry everything to the taxi waiting for her beyond the checkpoint.
On our way from Tayasir we were stopped by some Bedouins we know who live with their herds over a riverbed below Maskiot. They told us that this morning Rami, the security man from Maskiot took Ali, a neighboring shepherd, in a military jeep to Tayasir checkpoint, where he was held for 3 hours and then released.
Furthermore they said that on Saturday, 19/2/11, 2 girls filled pails with water from the well. Then 10 settlers from Maskiot arrived, and as the girls ran away the settlers spilled the water, chased the girls, and beat their mother. The Bedouins called the police, the settlers fled, and Rami, the security man, promised that this would not happen again. This satisfied the police and no one was arrested.
15:00 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
On going but rather scarce traffic on both directions of the checkpoint. People get out of the cars, walk the road leading to the inspection cabin and the driver returns to the car, which is inspected a few minutes later (not too thoroughly). He then picks up his passengers and proceed to his destination.
The driver of another car get out, also a young woman and an elderly woman, who is using a cane. Children remain inside the vehicle.
From the direction of the West Bank people arrive on foot and are picked up by passing vehicles in the direction of the Seam Line zone.
We talk with a bank mangaer, who is elegantly attired, and with drivers who drive through the checkpoint. One of them, whose truck we've seen waiting for a long period of time, tells us that he was not permitted to bring in three sacks of tobacco and was forced to return to Tura and leave the sacks with an acquaintance of his until he'll sort things out and receive the proper permits for transferring the goods. A waste of time and a hassle.
Another driver arriving from the Seam Line zone leaves his car by the gate, undergoes inspection and later returns with a big motorized instrument that was brought from the West Bank.
Two detainees sit by the watchtower and a soldier watches them.
One of the drivers told us that those fellows wanted to cross over to Daher-el -Malec (from the West Bank into the Seam Line zone) without proper papers.
People go through on bicycles and on foot, in a sort of routine which they appear to have gotten used to and do not complain about.
We leave and hour and a quarter later.
16:25 Reihan-Barta'a checkpoint
Workers get off Israeli vehicles and walk fast through the sleeve into the terminal and from there, home. The turnstile is open and whoever arrive just go through. It takes about three minutes from the entrance to the terminal to the exit on the other side of the sleeve (the Palestinian car park ). When a large group of people arrive at the same time, the turnstile closes after 10 people have passed and passage time is prolonged.
4 detainees sit on the bench at the entrance to the terminal awaiting decision regarding their passage.
From the Seam Line zone side most of those coming are women, at times with a child, and they walk through the other turnstile. I've not seen a woman without a head cover.
We leave and return to the Tura-Shaked checkpoint to find out the fate of the detainees. While attempting to find out a shepherd arrives, riding a donkey with a decorated saddle. He is followed by a herd of 60 beautiful goats that line up in rows of three. A white goat walks at the end. The Shepherd gets off his donkey and the convoy goes through without being stopped for inspection.
A routine of life under occupation...
I am new to MachsomWatch and am still amazed by the Palestinians'acceptance of the burden of occupation. They wait patiently. I haven't observed any resentment or impatience, many smile and greet us. They talk to each other, laugh, wait la ong time for transportation, are forced to walk or travel long distances from their homes instead of crossing a road or a field, and this repeats day after day - the routine of the occupation.
I, if in their place would have "exploded" for all the injustices, big as well as small.
Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300: we stopped there on our way in at 15:30 and on our way out at 17:00. Both times there were no queues, and passage was smooth and swift.
Etzion DCL, 15:45: the usual sight. Most of the people are crowding the turnstiles, a few are sitting inside or smoking outside. The soldier at the window is, as usual, "deaf and blind", his attention can only be obtained by phoning his commander. "Why don't you answer our calls?", we ask. "People are calling to me all the time", he answers. "Maybe they have a reason?" we suggest. Not to mention that this is his very demanding and professional job.
Only more phone calls help a pregnant woman enter outside the queue, or help getting the turnstile to admit a couple of people.
Contrary to what the soldier states, there are only 2-3 people inside. We beg to let those at the turnstiles wait inside. It is more comfortable, and it gives them a sense that they'll be helped today, rather than sent home at 4:30 unattended. The soldier is unyielding -- he'll let new people in only when the inside hall is empty, and then only one at a time. Why???
Another phone call, and the turnstile admits all the waiting people. We hear from others that today many people were admitted, and indeed it seems the DCL will be able to close on time (5pm) without turning back anyone. This should be the routine every day, it is NOT a "mission impossible". All they want is a magnetic card – which Israel wants them to have at least as much as they themselves want to have it.
Translator: Charles K.
11:20 At the entrance to Ariel – A flying checkpoint of two police cars, three policemen and two soldiers. One of the policemen looks into each car, which has to slow down to pass through the narrow space between the squad cars parked across the road. The only ones stopped and pulled over to the side are Israelis who look Middle Eastern and cars with Palestinian license plates. The passengers get out and the car is carefully inspected. After the vehicle and documents are checked, it continues on its way. A car belonging to an Israeli a (Jew) is pulled over to the side – a headlight isn’t working. The soldier warns the driver and sends him on. In contrast, a Palestinian gets a ticket and a lecture because a rear tire of his Volkswagen needs air (Is that even a violation? The policeman might even have checked a different item, since the Palestinian certainly can’t read what’s written there). The driver grins submissively/in embarrassment after getting the ticket (what, after all, can he do?), the soldiers jeering, “Look – he gets a ticket and he’s smiling!”
11:50 We left.
12:20 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – No soldiers, only a settler who settled where the soldiers are stationed.
12:45 Hamra checkpoint - A soldier runs towards us and, from a distance, tries to prevent us from reaching the checkpoint with a threatening motion. His companion pulls him back before he does anything violent. We are told we’re forbidden to enter the checkpoint area. Quietly we tell them we’re staying here. People coming from the west get out of their vehicles and cross on foot. The come out holding their belts in their hands. The soldier checking indicates with a slight hand motion, “Open the bag,” and with another gesture, “Yalla, get out of here.”
Two jeeps and a paddywagon go through toward Nablus, one driven by a man wearing civilian clothes, but armed – arrests?
13:50 Tayasir checkpoint – The checkpoint commander approaches us and forbids us to photograph. We show him the letter from the army press office and he backs off. He doesn’t try to chase us away from our usual location. Few people crossing, but it’s very, very slow in both directions – a rigorous inspection, including opening the trunk. Passengers have to go through the checkpoint on foot here as well.
14:15 The shift changes. The new commander, to start things off, tries to get rid of us. I want to show him the letter from the army press office, but he says that he has orders from the company commander, “and for me his word is law!”
A minibus arrives from the Jordan Valley – a soldier gets in to check the passengers, who are headed to Area A.
People on foot are made to approach “one by one,” and whoever fails to do so, like an old woman or children, are immediately yelled at to move back, “Stop! Stop!! Move back! Move back!”
We left at 14:40
15:05 Gochia gate – A jeep arrives. No Palestinians. The soldiers don’t even get out.
15:20 – 16:10 Violence by settlers from Maskiyot
The Bedouin encampment of the Darajmah family at the Tayasir junction: last night I received a frantic call from the residents that between 30 and 50 young settlers (apparently students in the military preparatory program at Maskiyot) came down to their encampment and forcefully blocked the cows coming back from grazing, or from reaching the spring to quench their thirst from coming home. They hit Seti Darajmah’s wife in the face, and also his young son, and were armed. The Palestinians said they used clubs and rocks. The Palestinians called the police. A policeman who lives in Mehola arrived, took the side of the settlers and also tried to prevent the cows from returning home. Finally an army jeep arrived, chased the settlers off and made clear that the cows had a right to drink from the spring (all this – according to the Palestinians’ reports). They asked for our protection and said that on Sunday settlers threatened to come daily and prevent the cows from returning to the encampment and to the spring (which is located among the tents) – until the Palestinians leave! They contacted the settlement’s army security coordinator; the settlers didn’t come back for two days, but on Wednesday they did – in larger numbers and more violently. They didn’t show up today – perhaps they saw us from up there.
Two girls, one 14 years old and the other about 9, arrived with their herds of cows, frightened. They said one of the cows ran away from the herd and is grazing near the road to Maskiyot. Would we drive her to get it back? They don’t dare go near the settlement. We took the girls to where the cow was greatly enjoying the fresh grass, and kept an eye on them until they were out of danger. Their joy and relief as they skipped happily leading the rebellious cow back to the herd were almost unbearable.
16:30 Hamra checkpoint – No lines.
17:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim – The side of the checkpoint from the West Bank to the Jordan Valley is manned - probably to catch those whose vehicle isn’t registered in the Jordan Valley
Translation: Suzanne O.
The situation at the roadblock this morning was clear from a distance because of the screeching of the female soldiers through the loud speakers and from the growling of the huge crowd.
Within the roadblock: many hundreds of Palestinians trying to cross into Jerusalem stand crowded together for many hours, the queues don't budge and no one knows when they will move, the growling arises from people talking among themselves, grumbling, babies crying, sighs from tired people, a few arguments, a few pleas, all taking place under the discordant shouting from the loud speakers; someone hearing them for the first time would imagine they are in a prison with inferior beings who need to be tamed.
Some 1000 people form queues of some kind: some lean, bent over, on walking sticks, hard working women burnt by the sun, parents holding babies above their heads so that they do not get squashed and men holding an arm up in the air with a burning cigarette between their fingers.
I try to find out why it is like this today, the crossing is either slow or non-existent: I am told that the computers are down; that there are not enough personnel; that the female soldiers are in a bad mood today, therefore the inspection is slow and deliberate; that the inspection is meticulous; that it is because maybe there is some kind of warning.
Everyone agrees that perhaps it is all right or none of it is right, because that is the purpose of the roadblock, to waste time and strength, to take charge, to control, to inspect, to abuse and to oppress, to strengthen separation and detachment, the isolation and the indignities meted out to the Palestinians.
In the final inspection lane in the chronicle of the roadblock, the aspect of indignities is most obvious in the preparation for removing belts, watches and jewellery and getting documents ready; one woman says: if anyone will give me the film from the security cameras I will enter it into a documentary competition under the section: human dignity. It is sure to win.
And indeed in this very lane before the exit, when each person has stood for hours, a noisy argument starts between the keepers of justice and right and the violent thugs and the good looking thugs. Those Palestinians who wish to keep their self respect under the eyes of the security cameras, prefer to give in, and more than once a person who is in the right is asked to give way, or another calls out: "Yes Arav Alana saraf" (Arabs keep your self respect). "We are not cattle", "Don't let us down in front of the female soldiers who surely enjoy seeing us argue among ourselves". The queuing is hard, the continual standing on your feet while the smell of urine pervades everywhere, the turnstiles that close in your face and separate a child from his parents, the final inspection is the pinnacle of all the activities at the roadblock when a relaxed, self satisfied female soldier asks an old woman, how old are you and then says don't tell lies, you're not 80 you are 78 years old, and another one screams at the mother of a mentally disabled child, "control him or I won't let you through". I saw a woman raise her arms in front of a window of a female soldier, as she shouted at her, "Arfi, Arfi", meaning that she wanted her to hold up her documents in front of the window but the woman was so scared and frightened that she raised her arms in the attitude of someone surrendering in the face of a weapon.
At 9:00 a.m. representatives of the Ecumenicals arrived, dispirited from their efforts to get the humanitarian gate open for those with medical permits for today, after many telephone calls made by them to Dalia Bassa, two soldiers accompanied by another two heavily armed soldiers arrived, conferred and made phone calls, made phone calls and conferred again and finally opened the gate for a few minutes, allowing about 20 people through, and then with expressions of distaste on their faces, retreated to the inspectors and the booths and the buildings. The look of distaste is because of the smell of urine against which they were not armed. Although the Ecumenicals' desire to help is understandable in the face of such hardship and at the very least their contact with Dalia B., benefitted a number of people, the absurd thing is that among the great throng there were old people almost collapsing over their walking sticks, disabled people on crutches, a blind person accompanied by his brother, a mother in great distress with her mentally disabled son, a deaf mute albino, sick people permanently in need of treatment who do not have specific permits for today. So there is a semblance of making an effort to be considerate of the needs of the population by the civilian administration.
The mutual need of some of the Palestinians and me to speak starts a conversation and a woman says: "See how a permit to pray becomes a permit to be freed from gaol, full of prohibitions and threats of punishment, just a prayer permit, just for Friday, just from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., just for the area around Jerusalem, a picture of in black and white, and above it prohibitions from the list with three exclamation marks, not to be granted to anyone prohibited, no driving a car, a magnetic card is required".
Another woman tells me that she is from Gaza, a group of UNWRA employees obtained permits to attend a conference in Ramallah, they didn't all get them, three of them were prohibited and didn't come, and the permits themselves arrived after of months of negotiations on the subject. She was concerned that a female soldier might not feel like letting her through even though she has a permit, because she is from Gaza.
A man asked how long the journey from the roadblock to the mosque takes, he left Nablus at 5:00 a.m., it is now 11:00 a.m., and the prayer is in a short time. He still has at least another hour to go until he reaches the final checkpoint. Another man says that if the Palestinians give up the right to go to Jerusalem many Israelis will be very sorry, they will lose jobs and money, another interrupts and says Jerusalem must not be left to the Jews alone, he holds a copy of the newspaper 'el kuds' whose headline, spread across the whole front page, warns of the accelerated Judaisization of the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem and the destruction of a mosque on the West Bank.
.Translator: Charles K.
Years ago, Dahlia Ravikovitch wrote about Jerusalem:
“Hills are suspended from her neck
Like a wreath, a diadem
While her dust is pulverized by a massive stone
That growls like a young lion”
On the face of it, a morning like any other – when suddenly it becomes terrible, filled with grief. It begins with the lines and suffering of women standing and waiting at the closed gate, and ends with a terrible wall now rising at the entrance to the Shu’afat refugee camp.
06:20 Hundreds of people crowded into the Qalandiya waiting room. Long lines, desperate looks. The women’s gate hasn’t opened. Before it stand women, old people, youths and small children – some of them standing here waiting since 5 AM. The dedicated women of the church organization count those crossing, deeply frustrated by their passive role and inability to help. They repeatedly call the humanitarian office, which promises that a policeman is on the way. (Guess who). He arrives only an hour later. Until then only a single, bored female soldier sat in the glass booth, negligently controlling the passage of the hundreds waiting, creating an endless line.
Time passes and the lines persist – it takes forever to cross. Older people don’t have the strength today to stand up to younger people pushing into the line when the revolving gate opens, increasing their suffering and humiliation.
The tale of a revolving gate – sometimes they get stuck, break down or are out of order as a result of the crowding, sometimes for other reasons due to the evil that’s shut itself up inside the glass cube. At the height of the crowding and suffering, the revolving gate closest to the soldiers stopped working. They told us it broke down. People who had grown used to suffering told us that wasn’t true. They had already waited a long time for nothing – they’d simply had to stand wasting time, and now had to move to the next line and start over. Our colleagues tell us they’ve already witnessed similar harassing tricks, part of the repertoire of the soldiers and others operating the entrances and the revolving gates. About two hours later, when it had become less crowded, the revolving gate resumed operation, after it had been “seemingly” repaired. Thus can any teen-aged male or female soldier control the lives and health of thousands of adults, elderly and infants by simply throwing a switch.
After calls to the humanitarian office produced no results, we called Benny, the commander of the installation, at a quarter to seven.
In the line of women and infants were also elderly people supported by canes and young fathers with small children on the way to the hospital. The DCO representatives slowly begins checking documents and opening the gate. But how will the elderly man with a cane and the person accompanying him get past the people crowded around the revolving.
Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300, 15:00:two stations operating, not many people yet, passage time is very short. No private security guards in sight.
Etzion DCL, 15:45: the very full parking lot is ominous. Indeed, some 30 despairing women and men are crowded against the turnstile. They claim to have been there since morning and that for the past 3 hours no more than 5 people have been let in. Many say this is the third time they have come on their designated day and it seems that once again it will be in vain.
At a certain point the soldier at the window acknowledges us and reports that inside the office there are also many people (about 35) and "that's the way it is". The commander of the DCL does not answer the phone (yet. He is in a meeting, says the soldier). A man in need of a permit to reach the hospital is forced to climb over the head of those waiting so as to go through the turnstile. (As opposed to those requesting to renew their magnetic cards, the very few requiring humanitarian permits are let in).
A young girl, who prefers to sit rather than be squashed on the steps to the turnstile, compares the treatment here to that of cattle. "I do not ask you for any piece of land", she says, "but that you treat me as a human being when I come to renew my magnetic card upon your demand".
People still huddle against the turnstile and nothing happens. Soon it will be closing time of the DCL. An attempt to reach an agreement with the commander according to which those who have been denied entry today will be permitted to come tomorrow instead of having to wait a whole week, failed.
The Palestinians continue to cluster on the steps holding on to their place in line as if for dear life. Few more arrive seeking permits to get to a hospital. A crippled man, barely walking in spite of his cane, has been issued a permit but for the day after his actual appointment. Once again we turn to the commander of the DCL and the man is ordered to go to the gate behind the waiting hall where he will be taken care of. A lady scheduled to have a Caesarian tomorrow requests our assistance as well, for at this stage there is no way of catching the eye or the ear of the soldier behind the window. A soldier girl appears behind the window announcing on the loudspeaker: "Challas! Everybody home!" But even though I point out to her that this is not a very respectable way to declare closing, she lets the woman and her husband in. The fate of two young people who arrived at the very last minute (the time is 5 PM) is also "bright". They've come straight from the hospital with an instruction to return on the morrow (they look bewildered, perhaps because of the urgency of the appointment). Finally, our shouts and pleading to the soldier, whose back is turned to us for he is talking on his cell, are heeded. He clicks open the turnstile, makes the couple go back and forth through the metal detector, and they are allowed inside, which, of course, does not necessarily mean that they will get the permit…
The frustrated others (some 30 women and men), who have been sent away yet again without being served, are obviously outraged (including blaming us for not being able to do more for them) and their words are harsh. All we can do is listen patiently and nod in agreement. A young man who has finally managed to secure a 3 week job and if obliged to come back only next Sunday will lose a third of his precious prospect, and a woman whose husband is inside the office – both beg for our help, but we can no longer do anything for them or the others who linger on still hoping for a miracle that will enable them to file for a magnetic card requested by the Israeli occupying authorities. Faced with this abundance of humiliation inflicted upon the occupied, all we want is to get out of there as quickly as possible.
Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300, 17:30: though there are more people rushing home, passage time is still very short and still no private security guards around.
At 6.40 there are still a lot of vehicles on the Israeli side, awaiting the last workers going through the check. There is still a long queue of unchecked workers on the Palestinian side but the process seems smooth and quick.
Five buses of prisoners' families await their checking.
All the side blocks are open, lots of cars drive along the road and many children walk towards their schools.
The city looks quiet and peaceful. Two CPT volunteers at the Pharmacy C.P are busy counting the last pupils going through. They report of less manual checking lately.
Tel Rumaida: The soldiers detain people on their way down the road but they seem to only question them and then, let go.
Route 60 North
Shayuokh–Sair checkpoint: empty.
Two soldiers observe the city from the closed Humanitarian CP. The way towards I'dna is almost empty. We stop to buy some olive oil in Idna and find that the pressing process is over.
Tarqumiya: Many tracks still await their checking, the workers have already walked through..
In the guise of enforcing the law, justifying itself by claims of “security,” the Israeli regime prepares to take over Palestinian lands, dispossessing and expelling their owners, in order to implement its program for judaizing Jerusalem based on this principle: more territory – fewer people.
From the reports:
1. When we entered we saw many land expropriation notices posted on the bulletin boards in the waiting room. All the expropriation orders were written in Hebrew. (For full report click here)
The reality facing Palestinians in East Jerusalem after the separation wall has been completed is that they’re cut off from most of the West Bank and from family members on the other side.
These people, numbering in the tens of thousands, aren’t Israeli citizens. They’ve been annexed to form part of the “united city,” have been made permanent residents without civil rights or equality before the law, and can at any moment lose their conditional status with no advance notice by virtue of laws both old and new (such as the Citizenship Law), at the whim of the Minister of the Interior.
From a publication of B’Tselem: “Denying residency rights and social welfare benefits to Palestinians who have lived abroad for at least seven years or who are unable to prove that their ‘life is centered’ in Jerusalem.”
2. A kindergarten teacher who, like many in Azariyya, possessed a blue ID card and lost her Jerusalem residency rights because “she doesn’t live in Jerusalem,” but a few hundred meters from the municipal boundary that Israel drew. (For full report click here)
3. His forty-year-old son, who had returned some time ago from the United States where he had trained as a biologist and worked in his field for a number of years, was arrested in the afternoon at the checkpoint when he showed soldiers his blue ID card, his Jerusalem residency document. He was transferred to the base ay the rear of the checkpoint.
Before his cellphone was taken from him (according to the standard procedure) he managed to let his sister know what was happening. She contacted their father…who phoned the commander of the installation, who told him: He, the police officer, is required by law to turn the matter over to the Interior Ministry, and that until the process has been completed his son will be under the supervision and observation of the authorities, as if he had been a fleeing criminal. As the father described the jobs he’d held as a young man in order to make enough money to send his children to the best schools, his visage tightened and tears began filling the furrows of his face. Quickly, he wiped his cheeks with his hand, as if the tears had been an annoying mosquito bite and not the burst of emotion that overcame him upon learning that he’d have to part from his son who will be forced, because of the laws of the state that discriminate among people according to their origin, to seek his future abroad and be unable to settle in his homeland, his natural place, the center of his life. (For full report click here)
According to data published by Ir Amim, residents of East Jerusalem have the highest rate of municipal property tax payments in the city because of their constant fear of losing their (blue) residency document and eviction from their homes. The main advantage of that document is not, as many people think, the right to receive National Insurance Institute payments, but the freedom of movement it grants to those who hold it.
Even though they live within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and faithfully pay their taxes, they receive hardly any of the services that the municipality is obliged to provide the residents: school buildings in East Jerusalem are unfit to serve as educational institutions and the classrooms are unbearably crowded. That’s why everyone who can afford it sends their children to private schools.
There is no garbage collection in most of the Palestinian neighborhoods. Householders pile up the garbage and burn it at streetcorners. Choking black smoke rises from the garbage bins whose contents are always on fire.
4. Driving through Jabal Mukaber we wondered again at the refuse and neglect in this Jerusalem neighborhood, one for which the municipality is responsible. Garbage overflowing from the bins, filthy streets, the roads filled with potholes that make driving difficult.
Residents of the city’s Palestinian neighborhoods can’t obtain construction permits. Those wishing to build on land they own are usually told that the land has been zoned for parks and open space. Unable to obtain appropriate housing legally, the residents are forced to break the law. As families grow, the homes are enlarged and additional stories added to the houses. The Jerusalem municipality, in turn, issues demolition orders and evicts people from their homes.
The 1948 refugees who found alternative housing in place of the homes from which they’d been expelled, but who have no deed proving ownership, have met with similar treatment. Even though they’ve lived in the same house for decades and their children and grandchildren were born and raised there, they’re now being “legally” evicted for the second time in their life.
5. Three days after they were notified that they have a week to vacate their home, the police came, and after breaking open the front door threw all the furniture into the street. Soon it had disappeared. The family was left out in the street; they’ve been there for a few months.
6. Of the two additional families from Sheikh Jarah (near the Shepherd Hotel) who’d received eviction notices, one was an elderly widow who didn’t understand what they wanted from her, and who’d signed with her fingerprint a document which she’d been told would allow her to remain in her home. It turned out she’d agreed to an increase of hundreds of percent in the minimum rent she’d been paying Amidar for years, or else she’d be evicted.
It’s impossible to minimize the damage caused by the wall to people living in Jerusalem. The wall divides families, its construction requires expropriating and destroying agricultural land from which people made a living, and has placed densely populated neighborhoods beyond the city’s boundaries. Because of the wall, a trip that used to take a few minutes is now long and difficult.
7. Walaja: This morning, bulldozers uprooted eighty olive trees belonging to our friend, A., and other fruit trees – apricot, peach and walnut…One [peson]…lives in a house at the end of a road that will be completely closed off by the fence, and only a narrow corridor will allow him to reach the village. His children will grow up in a cage. When he complained he was told – This is a construction site; if you don’t like it, you can leave.
8. When we entered the village we again saw how close were the new single-family homes of Har Gilo to the fence separating them from the village, and the ongoing construction…
…He never imagined the day would come when he’d have to fact the fact that much of his land, including his parents’ graves, would remain on the other side of a fence, and that the erection of that fence would require uprooting his trees. We went to look at the construction and saw many trucks loaded with earth driving down the hill toward the checkpoint, clearing a wide path on which the wall will be built.
9. A woman with a Jerusalem ID, whose home adjoins the separation wall on the “wrong side,” told us about how she has to travel in order to make sure her children arrive on time at their school in the Old City: To get there by 8:00 she wakes them every day at 5:30 – before sunrise – and leaves the house at 6:00. (For full report click here)
The “permit regime,” newspeak for what in fact is the “prohibition regime,” finds expression in the points of contact between the Palestinians and the soldiers – the checkpoints. That’s where the prohibitions are applied in practice, where the individual’s life is arranged for him. One of the harsh expressions of this process is what’s known as a “temporary permit to remain for family reunification,” meaning that a married couple is sentenced to a life of permanent uncertainty if their ID cards aren’t the same color.
Amnesty International stated that the amendment to the Citizenship Law passed by the Knesset in July, 2003, is “a disgraceful racist blot legislated for demographic, not security, reasons.”
10. The forty-year-old man was angry and frustrated when he wasn’t permitted to go through the checkpoint. For more than a decade he’s lived with his family (his wife and five children) in Atarot on the basis of a temporary family unification permit that was routinely renewed each time it expired. Recently the authorities refused to renew the permit and his life was suddenly upended. (For full report click here)
11. A man with a green ID card (Occupied Territories) approaches us: his wife has a blue ID (Jerusalem). A few days ago, at Qalandiya, they confiscated his family reunification permit, without any explanation. They sent him to the Beit El police station. He went; he came back. Went. Came back. They finally gave him a document stating that he’s forbidden to enter Israel because of security reasons. If he wants more information, he has to go to the police station in the Russian Compound, Jerusalem. But how will he get there; he has no permit. He sent his wife to the Russian Compound. They told her: “Come back after the holidays; there’s no one here now.”
The route of the wall tears up and dissects the landscape as well as the urban fabric between Ramallah and East Jerusalem, divides families, and the law turns many people into illegal residents of their own homes and property.
12. A young man waited to enter the DCO office. He came out a few minutes later without having obtained what he wanted – a crossing permit. We asked what his story was. He said that he, his father, mother and sister have lived more than thirty years in Beit Hanina, in Jerusalem, but they have Palestinian ID cards so they need crossing permits to continue living in their home. He said that for the past four years they’ve been receiving permits valid for three or four months, and then they have to renew them. The problem is that it usually takes a month from the date the permit expires to when it’s renewed, and during this time he, as the sole breadwinner, has to sneak over the border in order to return to his family. The other family members (father, mother and sister) hide at home, afraid to go out and be arrested. (For full report click here
They covered the earth with trees who’ve forgotten their owners because they no longer beget.
They concealed any signs of the house with strange colors – real flowers can’t grow there.
They sowed weeds in the fields where no human foot ever had trod – not before and not after.
They placed in the house new couples colored dazzling white.
And they said: now the scene will be much more enticing/
The amnesia enterprise
Translator: Charles K.
06:20 A’anin checkpoint
The checkpoint is operating. The Bedouin children ride donkeys to where they’re picked up for school (adjoining the checkpoint). Two farmers from A’anin also arrive on donkeys, others come on foot or by tractor pulling a wagon(its mainly women who are seated in the wagon), all of them headed to the olive groves – the 2010 harvest is at its height. It’s a good crop.
One farmer is angry: no, don’t photograph here, go to the other side, why are they delaying us? They’re delaying us for no reason, go take pictures over there. – “Mamnu’a lana, fish tasrikh. We can’t – we don’t have a crossing permit” we tell him. A nice soldier comes over, full of curiousity; he’s never heard of us. I’m an extreme right-winger, he tells us, and listens to us carefully. He’s really into it. He enthusiastically promises to set up a meeting with the soldiers in his battalion (artillery).
Major Ra’em from the Salem DCO tells us that the commander is being replaced. The new head of the Salem DCO will be Kamal Haj. Ra’emis his deputy.
06:55 The last person crosses, number 95. That’s how many crossed this morning to pick olives. The soldiers lock the checkpoint.
07:05 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
The children living in the seam zone who attend kindergarten in Tura (on the West Bank) arrive with their ride at the same time as we do. Aged four and five, they run toward the soldiers at the checkpoint, stop, wait for their names to be checked and their satchels inspected. The soldier we spoke with at the A’anin checkpoint agrees that it’s absurd to search kindergarten children, “but,” he says seriously, “it’s not them we’re inspecting but what their parents might have put in their bags.” (!)
Yesterday Palestinian TV filmed on both sides of the checkpoint. They’ll broadcast the film this Saturday at 9 AM.
07:30 Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint
On one of the eastern hills, on the West Bank side, on the way to the checkpoint, three wind turbines are turning, filling with green energy.
A few people exiting the terminal to the seam zone through the upper corridor. No delays. We saw the sophisticated revolving gate that can, if necessary, turn into a revolving door.
“How are things?” a driver waiting for customers asks.
“Lousy, no?” we try to feel him out…
But he disagrees. “Why lousy? Everything’s fine, there’s a permit, there’s work.”
Who says the occupation is bad? Here are occupied people, happy with their meager lot.
Sanitary news: two shiny new bathroom stalls at the edge of the lower Palestinian parking lot. Locked (so they won’t get dirty).
Six pickup trucks loaded with produce gathered throughout the West Bank wait to be inspected before transporting their loads to the eastern and western parts of Barta’a.
08:00 Hermesh checkpoint
Open and unmanned. From here to Tulkarm is area A, accessible only to Palestinians.
08:15 Dothan checkpoint – open and manned. Traffic in both directions flowing almost without inspections. The checkpoint commander, a sergeant who looks very religious, a little hostile, comes over to us: Move your vehicle, or I’ll close the checkpoint to the Palestinians. It’s my checkpoint, he says a number of times. “Do you want to see me do it?” His bored pal tells us he’s glad we came, we’re dispelling the boredom. Add this to what’s wrong with the occupation: It’s boring.
08:35 The old Barta’a checkpoint
08:50 Not far from the checkpoint, three women hanging on ladders, milking olives from the branches. They’re covered from head to foot, including gloves. It’s a funny scene. We’re amazed, and they immediately invite us to have coffee. They live in the western part of Barta’a, the grove belongs to their family, the whole family works in the harvest, from the youngest to the oldest. Afterwards we met our friend Walid at his place of work. Soon he’ll be 20, soon he’ll have his own home above that of his parents, and soon, when the building is finished, he’ll look for a bride. He’s our little boy who grew up at the Reihan checkpoint, who’d always wait impatiently and very excitedly to sell us tea and candy, and make a killing for the day.
09:20 The eastern entrance to Barta’a is a combination of pretentiousness and bitter reality: a fairly elaborate entry arch to the town’s dirty back yard, but not by chance it’s the entrance from the West Bank. The day will come. The arch is decorated with Palestinian flags.