Translator: Charles K.
Most of the shift was devoted to filming an interview with F. for the film we’re making on the Jordan Valley.
A summary of his story will appear at the end of this report, because it’s the tale of the Jordan Valley.
11:10 Ma’aleh Efra’im
No soldiers at the checkpoint, although many young settlers are hanging around inside, sitting in the soldiers’ booth and demonstrating they’re in charge here.
11:50 Hamra checkpoint
People cross on foot, exiting holding their belts. A young man approaches complaining his wife and infant daughter aren’t being allowed through; she was sent back to Nablus. Before we were able to do anything, they came through. The soldiers’ water tank is still in the shed erected for the waiting Palestinians. They, of course, wait in the burning sun for their cars to be inspected.
The checkpoint commander tells us to move back to the junction (about 100 meters from the checkpoint). We refuse and remain where usually stand. Hecloses the checkpoint (life stops). After a line of 18 cars forms to the west (from the West Bank, coming into the Jordan Valley) we decide to leave. We complained to the legal advisor.
13:30– We receive a phone call telling us that a member of the Palestinian Hadidya family was stopped this morning near the ditches that divide the Jordan Valley from the West Bank. The man had come to the Guchya gate, which is supposed to be open three times a week so Palestinians could cross, and waited until 8:30, but the army didn’t arrive to open the gate. Recently the gate often hasn’t opened at all, so he apparently looked for another way to continue. He was detained until 15:15 at theTayasir checkpoint, as punishment.
Why does it take such a long time?
The man was checked and found to be kosher. The tractor is “still being checked.”
Members of F.’s family are the registered owners of 248 dunums of land on both sides of the road to the Tayasir checkpoint, about one kilometer to the east. They’ve lived there forever, raised vegetables and kept sheep. After the area was captured in 1967, the army began training on the family’s land, as it does throughout the Jordan Valley. The family’s land became a playground for firing and artillery practice, bullets and mines lay on the ground, shots flew above the heads of the children and the family had no peace. In 1979 F.’s 14-year old brother was killed by an artillery shell. A mine was left on the family’s land. The parents gave up and decided to leave so that the other children wouldn’t be hurt. They moved to the village of Aqaba – about one kilometer west of the checkpoint, and settled there, but continued to work their land. They rode their donkeys there daily. When the intifada erupted in 2000 the checkpoint was closed, and later everyone living west of the checkpoint was forbidden to enter the Jordan Valley. The family could no longer reach and cultivate its land. The army used the opportunity to take over the land and, later, when the family asked to cultivate it again the army refused to allow it to enter the area at all, claiming it was a training site.
We were on the outskirts of the area. F. didn’t dare go in for fear of mines and firing. Where we stood we found parts of artillery shells, live bullets, pipes with marks indicating they’d been shot at, empty boxes of bullets, etc. – a real battlefield.
Five years ago F. bought a small plot of land in el Farsiyaand began raising vegetables, and even planted olive trees. He obtained water from a spring he leased from its Palestinian owner in Tayasir. The spring is located about three kilometers from his new plot of land. Two and a half years ago the army cut the water pipes, claiming that the spring is a nature preserve! And that it’s forbidden to pump water from it. The army sets the entire Jordan Valley on fire, but wherever a Palestinians wants to settle, or to make a living, becomes forbidden for one reason or another!
Having no choice, F. began drawing water from Wadi el Malih– a small channel that dries up in the summer, and whose water is very saline. The water isn’t appropriate for most crops, so he grows what he can. Lo and behold – that was also no good as far as the occupation regime is concerned. In May of this year the army confiscated both the pumps which brought water to F.’s land, claiming this time that “You’re drying up the Sea of Galilee”!!
Since then, the land has been dry and barren. Volunteers from the Jordan Valley Solidarity organization laid a narrow pipe from the Ein el Bida spring, hoping that he’d be able to grow crops again this year in greenhouses. We can assume the army will find an excuse to prevent him from doing so.
Translation: Suzanne O.
Summary: At Artach many people are detained for long periods and the number of those coming to us with complaints is greater than ever.
We were told that the facility opened at 4:00 a.m.
The sound of a loud tumult rises the nearer one gets to the entrance. They admit people for 3 minutes – 20 people a minute – and then there is an interval of 5 minutes, during which no one is admitted.
Each opening of the turnstile and the admittance of a few people (the estimate of the queue is 3,000 we are told later) causes chaos, pushing and shouting, someone described it as being like a war.
About 50 people are admitted, and again chaos erupts while the queue is reorganised.
At the exit from the facility tens of people approach us and their main complaint is the long wait in the rooms.
Some of them waited for three quarters of an hour in the rooms, and someone said he had waited even longer.
The door was closed in the face of one of the labourers, he was hurt, he cried out in pain and shock, perhaps also from anger and insult, and for this he was punished by shouts and a wait of three quarters of an hour.
We were also told that there are very few guards/inspectors inside, that they are dealt with at a snail's pace and that the female inspectors are half asleep and their behaviour is insulting and humiliating.
Quote: "You are going too far, there can be no peace this way".
We were told that two days ago, in the queue at the entrance, because of the pressure and the pushing a concrete pillar was overturned and several people were hurt.
Again there were complaints about late opening (at 5:00 a.m.) on Fridays.
A labourer who sometimes crosses the Ayal roadblock says that the wait in the rooms here is much longer which is confirmed later by people at Ayal.
Another labourer said that no officers, or anyone in authority who can be approached in case of problems, are available at the facility.
We left feeling strongly that the treatment of the labourers is deteriorating and that we have nowhere to take this disgrace.
The labourers say that it is OK today. Good. No one came to us with complaints.
We saw that the turnstile got stuck twice and went to ask for it to be opened up again.
We moved to where we can see the entrance to the facility from the eastern side. There is a huge awning to provide shelter from rain and sun for those in the queue. The labourers march in line along the fence, patiently; there is no pushing or pressure, perhaps because there are people responsible for organising the queue.
How can we make this happen at Artach?
The maximum waiting time in the rooms: 15 minutes.
Can this be raised with the administration: there is a difference of 4 times the waiting time between the facilities!
We took another look at the entrance to the facility, without any hindrance from the guards, and we saw very few people. They walk in a leisurely fashion to the entrance. There is no pressure. There is no chaos, a totally different picture from the one at Artach.
We were told that it opened at 6:30 a.m. Five people at a time cross. The inspection time in the hut is approximately 2 minutes.
A school bus (from Ramadin) coming from the Israeli side is stopped in front of the crossing. The driver alights, waits for the soldiers to signal him to come over to them. The soldiers inspect ID cards, keep them, and the driver returns to his vehicle, takes it across the gate, and then stops. A soldier with a weapon at the ready gets on the bus for an inspection. He alights with 3 pupils and a teacher (females) - each one with a head covering, they are taken to be inspected in the hut. Did their head coverings make him suspicious? They are released after a few minutes, the driver gets the ID cards back and the vehicle can cross.
A reserve officer gets us to move away, claiming that it is a closed military area! They are polite to the Palestinians (a small blessing).
The labourers tell us that some of them work on Alfei Menasheh. A young man tells us that he works picking his olives in his grove near Alfei Menasheh, he says that the yield is excellent this year! He told us that sometimes a labourer goes to water the field – it takes a short time, but afterwards he is stuck at the roadblock and has to wait hours in order to get back, the second opening time is some 7 hours later.
Who gains from the occupation? This time - the new turnstile: so it's the Kalram Company.
At the exit from the inspection rooms - inside the terminal two windows were open and the queue proceeded relatively quickly. People came out quite calmly. The seamstresses who reached the yellow gate at 07:10 left the sleeve at 07:30. A few go through the new turnstile (you just have to touch it, and it turns automatically). For many of those who come out it is more convenient to go through the turnstile that they know, even though they have to bend down and go under the fence in order to get to the water fountain that is stuck there. The traffic in the sleeve continues. Near the yellow entrance gate there is no queue, and the corridors also appear to be empty.
07:45 The minibus from Barta'a: Now there is the ritual of "ironing" the documents facing the guard at the post with his rifle drawn. At 08:00 the minibus goes on its way. The vehicle inspection area is closed; people who went through a quarter of an hour ago or more are waiting for cars to emerge. One of them, a tradesman from Barta'a jokes: When he traveled to China, he presented his passport once when he went away and once when he came back. And today it takes more than two hours to cover the ten minute distance between Yaabed and Barta'a , and he will have to present his document five or ten times.
08:10 The yellow arm rises. One of the drivers opens the gate and seven cars come out and collect their passengers.
08:15, We left (thirteen Transits are waiting for passengers).
a. On Friday, 8.10.10, in the afternoon, Revital phoned in this report:
At 17:30, Hatib from Daher el Malek called and told me that the soldiers at CP300 had damaged his brother Muhammed's car very badly. He called the DCO and there he was told, "The soldiers are allowed to do whatever they feel like doing." I called the DCO at Salem (04-6407312); Shadi answered and tried to connect me with his commander. The commander did not answer, because he was driving to the CP. When I asked Shadi if he could, after all, tell me what he knows, until I can talk to the commander, he said that the soldiers had closed the CP because somebody had left his car in the middle of the road.
I was not there, so I do not know how to describe any more of what happened.
Five male soldiers and two women soldiers and no flag. It seem that the soldiers have a lot of free time (two-three years in the regular army) to waste on the residents of the district who want to go through. It seems that everything is happening in slow motion -- and this will be confirmed later by the people going through. The black net has been taken down.
A soldier sits inside the concrete three sided squarewithout any cover, with his rifle drawn. Mothers with children in carriages have gone through. We tried to find out about the incident with the vehicle on Friday evening. From a telephone call, we understood that M. is having the car repaired in Barta'a and that on Sunday or Monday, there will be a discussion in Salem about the demands of the residents of Daher-el Malek.
08:50 A white car crosses the gate; the driver stops and asks to talk to us. The young man talked and talked and talked about this CP which is stuck in the everyday life of the residents of the district, and especially those of Daher el-Malek and Tura - and on their land. Today he is working as a driver. He told us that this morning he arrived from Nablus and stood at the entrance to the CP near Tura from 7:00 to 08:50 (the hour at which we met). We asked him about what had happened on Friday. He was not there, but knew that because of the damage done to M.'s car, all the residents of the village brought their permits to the CP and asked to hand them over to the DCO, and because of this protest, they were promised that there would be a discussion in Salem about their demands.
After this, he went on with stories about difficulties in the past (some of them known to us). He spoke about all the trouble that there is these days. Shir, the M.P. Commander at the CP acts toward the people as if she is God talking down to rags. If an "old-sick-dead-moving with difficulty" person arrives, she insists that he go through the inspection pavilion. The asthmatic girl is still obligated to go through the pavilion. On 12.09.10 at 14:50 they closed the two gates of the CP, and notified the people that they have to clean the area of the CP between the gates, and that they will not be allowed to go through befor they finish cleaning. "What is this? Are we their cleaning laborers?" He did not clean! But he took pictures (the pictures are attached to this report).
Once, while he was entering the inspection pavilion and waiting there, he saw two soldiers (a man and a woman) caressing and kissing (his description of the sight was hesitant and apologetic). "Me - I don't care! Let them do whatever they want to. But what about my wife? And what about our children?"
Two male soldiers and two women soldiers complied with our request and came to the gate. After their first amazement at the question about the Friday incident, Shir, the Commander of the Military Police, described an unimportant argument between herself and the man whose car was damaged -- because of the unnecessary stubbornness of the owner of the car. A soldier who was presented as religious (so that we shouldn't take his picture on the Sabbath) claimed that everything that we heard derives from arguments and long-standing internal conflicts of the Palestinians themselves.
Shir declared, "I know that I am completely at peace with what I do. I'm guarding my state." And she added: "Madam, it's impossible to change the world." After this declaration, the four soldiers returned to their post. And then, when we were about to leave the place, a man with a child came out, and told us that yesterday, instead of inspecting him and letting him go through, he saw the male soldier "playing" with the woman soldier. And he added that he complained to the officer. It is not clear to whom he complained, because he left immediately before we could ask for more details.
"Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God" (Joshua 9:23)
El Jib checkpoint- the biblical Givon:
The villagers from El Jib had been farmers for hundreds of years until the State of Israel had confiscated most of their lands. Out of 9,000 dunams of agricultural and fertile land, they now hold only 1,900 dunams.
Many have become unemployed and find it hard to make ends meet as they make their livings off occasional jobs. Those who were lucky and were found to present no threat had found a new career: building settlement houses at "New Givon" and "Givat Ze'ev", they pave settlement roads and erect the fences of the separation wall.
At the break of dawn thousands of people pass and reach the land that was once their own, in order to build and pave for the intruders who live on the other side of the fence.
This reality had revived Joshua's curse on the residents of Givon.
We headed to the checkpoint on Palestinian roads. The inner roads were full of potholes and they lacked rims. We passed Kufer-Akeb, Smirmis and Om-Shureit, and we kept going on what is known as the "Fabric of Life Road" which goes beneath the 443 bridge, designed precisely so that those above won't see the invisible people driving below.
We passed through Bir Nabala. Ever since this town had become an enclave the streets are deserted. There were no other vehicles, a part for our own, on the main road that crosses the town. The stores on both sides of the road are always closed and there was filth and neglect everywhere.
In front of the checkpoint we met a group of cab drivers and their vehicles, waiting for the people who were returning from work.
They told us that the passage is permitted only to those who appear on the list the soldiers have, the list includes the names of the people working in the settlements. Apart for those workers the list also includes some Palestinian families who live on the other side of the fence.
We asked whether the soldiers would allow us to pass and all of them replayed that they wouldn't: it's only according to the lists!"
One cab driver revealed before Nurit his world-view:" In our culture when a married couple has kids, if the husband dies and the wife re-marries, the children will call him uncle and not father. He has to take care of all their needs. Israel occupied the Palestinians, it's her duty to look after them and not to humiliate.
A twenty year old person who lives in the village Ktana was on his way to Nabi Samuel. He told us that one of his family members had passed away and that the family had permits from the DCO. He didn't pass the checkpoint. He was sent back in sham: "I am suddenly refused passage..."
A middle aged person, who was also refused passage, had his permit taken away from him (it was actually a work permit= a permit to make a living= a permit for a decent life) one morning four months ago and ever since it hadn't been returned to him: "They told me I was prevented passage by the GSS". He managed to reach the captain just to ask "why", the replay he got was: "You tell me..."
The soldier (as the cab drivers promised us) wouldn't allow us to pass the checkpoint. "I'm on my way to my country", I said to him- "It's my country as well but I don't fight against it..." he answered, refusing to open the gate for us. Before we had the chance to turn around and head back, a BP soldier who was hidden in his post (and who the whole time we were there informed someone over the phone of our actions: "they are taking photos... they want information... they...they...", ) hurried to open the gate for us while explaining to the amazed soldier: "It's a onetime thing! We don't want to take any risks".
In spite of (or because) the fact that there were few people passing through the checkpoint, the soldiers amused themselves by giving those waiting a run around and forced them to go back and forth between the lanes. After a short wait, when we arrived at the turnstiles leading to the inspection post, they were locked shut before us. We hurried to the lane next to ours: "only green ID through here", told us those who were waiting in line. The lane beside it, the one that we had already been in, had reopened and we had to join the end of that line and wait again.
A part from the soldiers from the passage unit who were inspecting those entering Jerusalem at the vehicle checkpoint, were civil security men with drawn rifles and some policemen who stopped drives and gave tickets to passengers who weren't buckled: "The child was born ten days ago?- Would you like her to die before having lived a month because of the seat belt?", we heard a cop preach to a young mother.
A person on a motorbike tried in vain to protest against a fine for 100 Shekels that had been given him. He said the security man told the policeman that he had been driving without lights. After the argument he aroused by trying to convince the policeman he was right had subsided, he came to us: "I had my light on. I swear I had my light on. He (the security man) lied when he said I didn't. I've been working all day. From six AM up to now. I earned a hundred Shekels- now it's all gone.
Qalandiya checkpoint, the last Friday of the Ramadan, 3.9.10
A complete picture is a compound of all its elements:
The road was blocked before an elder driver heading to Qalandiya village, by three BP soldiers near Atarot industrial zone. The blockers explained to him: "Today it's forbidden to drive from here...", "Today this road is closed!"... The man couldn't understand. He didn't speak Hebrew. None of the three soldiers spoke Arabic. I was baffled and one of the soldiers responded by saying: "It's a Jewish state...".
*An officer armed with a camera was standing at the shed in front of some elder women who were walking towards Jerusalem and kept taking picture, pictures, picture... It seems that a positive profile item on the enlightened occupation that guards the religious rights of the other is in the making.
* The women, who as noon approached became more anxious that like previous years once again they wouldn't be permitted to pass to El Aqsa for prayer, were shoved on each other towards the military blockage while stretching their hands forward, holding their IDs as proof of their old age which is what qualified them to pass and perform the command of their religion.
Young children were crushed between all the clustered bodies. Palestinians from the medical crew came to their help, they climbed over the brick blockage, carrying the children in distress in their arms and moved them to the other side, so that they could wait until their mother reunites with them.
The highest ranking commander wasn't too pleased when he realized that television crews where covering the procedure and ordered that there would be no more "fishing". He wasn't concerned about the children who got crushed, but about the unflattering picture that would come of it. For it is the picture and not reality that creates the image.
*An infant of three who had been separated from his mother by the crowd, started to scream in horror when he realized that a stranger was holding his hand.
*A baby whose mother was blocked, was place in her grandmother's arms to join her in the prayer. The child looked back in terror and burst in to tears, a heart breaking sight.
*The "evolving door" was working on that Friday as well: a woman who was caught entering the sterile zone and her documents proved that she didn't make the age barrier, was sent back through the crack in the wall. Those who had tried this more than two times and didn't succeed, was detained until the officer, who had her ID in his pocket the whole time, took pity on her.
*On the eastern side, which was allocated for the men, the soldiers were especially strict and harsh. We were also allocated a zone and we weren't allowed to take pictures from the front. Vivi and I were told stand behind the blockage, the order was: "You can't' stand here!... Don't take pictures!". Vivi started arguing about her rights. I ignored it and kept on standing there. Shlomi, the commander, sent one of his men to pull me away with force. When I told him that if he persisted to touch me he would find himself charged with sexual attack, he took his hand off me. Once Shlomi and his men understood that I was there to stay and take pictures, they implemented the most heinous of methods and closed the checkpoint, preventing the Palestinians from passing (the strong ones overcame the weak). And I, who in their eyes was the criminal, wasn't affected by it. Since it wasn't time yet to close the checkpoint, I didn't insist on my rights, I walk to the spot that was assigned for me and the checkpoint was opened again. Then I found myself standing in front of a television crew which had witnessed this event and started talking to me- to the dissatisfaction (which was evident from the look on his face) of the officer.
"Who distinguishes between the sacred and the secular, he will forgive our sins..."
* 12:15 is the hour of distinction between sacred and secular. The hour which distinguishes between the Ramadan procedure and that of the daily routine. The blockages and checkpoints had been taken down and will be reserved for the upcoming Ramadan. From that moment onward none of the elders could pass without an inspection and every Palestinian was once again security menace.
*We found Aesha, a 65 year old women from Elamari refugee camp (she had been abandoned by her husband years ago- he left to Kuwait where he married another woman), sitting on the ground in front of the turnstiles which had been locked. She was trembling and sweating, exposing her neck which had swollen up because of her dysfunctioning thyroid gland, and showing us a bundle of papers and documentations which testified that she suffered from: "blood, gut and thyroid illnesses". From the documents we learned that the women had a reinforced UNRA card, proving that she was in a bad financial state. Aesha asked to go to Augusta Victoria hospital, where she had been treated before. She didn't have a permit. Had she known in advance that the illness was to strike, she probably wouldn't have made it to the necessary offices to ask for a permit, since even the money with which she arrived at Qalandiya was what she had collected from her neighbors.
Only fifty minutes after we started "pestering" the officials at the administration regarding her case, a solution was found which wasn't in violation of the regulation that states that no person shall pass without the appropriate permit. A crew of the Red Crescent arrived and took Aesha to a hospital in the West Bank,
*Lena, who researches humanitarian organizations, remarked that in her country, Norway "a sick person simply goes to the hospital without having to go through such hindrance and suffering". We explained to her that this is also the way it works in the State of Israel, and that what she was witnessing was the violation of the basic rights of those who live under occupation.
Translator: Charles K.
06:40 – 09:00
06:40 Reihan checkpoint
We came early (20 minutes before people start to be sent through). One Transit is waiting. All the gates are closed. We walked down to the lower lot. We declared what was in the bags we carried. We received permission to cross the roadblock after it opens to military vehicles. 50-60 people stood next to the yellow gate. One woman (from the sewing factory) stood off to the side, waiting for her friend. Today we didn’t see the other women.
07:00 The gate opens, and with it a hail of commands: Saker el bab. Fut fut. Don’t touch the makina. Fut fut ya Mu’alem. [Close the gate...go through, go through…don’t touch the machine…go through, sir]. Bas hamsa [only five]. Sakr…and so on, over and over. Impolite, many explanation points and smiles on the faces of those still waiting.
In ten minutes the place was empty. People arriving on foot or in a vehicle entered immediately (hamsa hamsa – five at a time).
7:20 Those who were waiting this morning have already come through. Someone asks how Anna is, another praises the fact that they went through quickly, another: “That’s what we’ve got, and today it was good.”
Two windows are open inside the terminal. 07:40 The corridors are empty. It takes 5-6 minutes to get from the yellow gate at the lower parking lot until you leave the terminal for the seam zone.
A man from Tura (near the Shaked checkpoint) approaches us. He says (in a combination of Hebrew and Arabic) he’s been waiting six months for a crossing permit for a wedding (of one of his children). He received a permit to send wedding invitations. Why didn’t he cross at Shaked? They didn’t let him. Only through Reihan (a huge detour).
7:45 We move toward the exit. Passengers of a large minibus from Barta’a to Jenin signal to us. An old blind man (or almost blind) isn’t able to get off and insert his card, and the requirement isn’t being waived. By the time we understood what was going on, it had been taken care of. Apparently one of the passengers (aged 20) has to go to Jenin for medical treatment, and he has a permit to cross that has expired (two weeks ago?). Everyone waits. A phone call to ‘Adel, the DCO head. The driver explains to him in Arabic. ‘Adel promises to take care of it. Meanwhile, the line behind the minibus lengthens.
A female security guard wearing a company uniform (blue and white) arrives. She doesn’t know that ‘Adel is involved, and impatiently and loudly explains to the waiting passengers the theory behind the checkpoints and the crossing procedures. Nor does she have time to listen to us tell her that ‘Adel is taking care of the crossing permit. It’s important for her to bring the incident to a close and release the waiting vehicles (which is the right thing to do, even from our critical perspective), but she won’t allow the man and his mother to wait nearby for the permit from ‘Adel, the DCO, after which they’ll get another ride to Jenin, or it doesn’t occur to her to do so. We saw the man and his mother taking a taxi back to Barta’a.
8:25 We left (13 Transits waiting for passengers)
8:30 While we were on our way to the Shaked checkpoint ‘Adel called and asked to talk to that man. He doesn’t understand why they returned to Barta’a. We told him everything that we wrote above and he promised to find out what happened with the security personnel at the checkpoint.
8:35 Shaked – Tura checkpoint
Very many people waiting (photo on left). Lots of noise and disorder (about 30 adults and 15 children). They told us that the gate closed after someone who crossed from Tura was beaten by the soldiers. We saw two military vehicles and many soldiers.
Flags: Israel, Armored Corps, Military Police
A white Transit stands opposite the soldier’s post toward Tura (why?). We call ‘Adel, the DCO head: I’ll take care of it! What – the gate’s closed (sounds surprised)? I know about it. A beating? I don’t know anything about a beating (again sounds surprised). We understood he was on his way to the checkpoint, and will be hear in half an hour or more.
8:40 They open the gate for a jeep carrying someone with a rank on his shoulder of a star inside a V who speaks Arabic. The gate closes. Babies cry. More and more people arrive. The mothers bring the crying babies closer to the gate; maybe it will make a difference. They start shaking the gate but then stop. We understand that they are on their way to Tura after a wedding in Dahar al Malk (On our way, we saw the location of the wedding).
8:50 A Red Crescent ambulance arrived from the direction of Tura.
8:53 A military ICU ambulance (No. 201 Judea and Samaria region) arrives from the seam zone.
9:05 They take out the man who was beaten. Limbs dangling he’s carried/dragged. A soldier gets a chair. Slowly they put him in the ambulance (second photo above). We see his legs going in (why didn’t they take out a stretcher?). 9:10 The Red Crescent leaves. We call ‘Adel. He’s on his way.
9:12 The ambulance doors close.
9:14 The ambulance turns around, as if it intends to go north.
9:15 They open one wing of the gate and the first enters. He yells to us that he waited two hours (even an hour or a quarter of an hour is a long time to wait). Two soldiers approach the waiting crowd, leave one wing of the gate open and return to the checkpoint area. The families begin going through. The Transit parked opposite the soldiers’ position toward Tura isn’t allowed to go through because of some problem with how the owner is registered. They tell the driver to move it away.
9:17 The ambulance still hasn’t moved. (Are they treating the man who was put inside?) People coming from Tura who go through the inspection building come out holding their belts.
9:20 “Yoel! Let more people through!”
“No! But not one by one.”
A Hummer arrives. The ambulance moves to let it pass.
9:30 The area empties of people. We meet M., the brother of the man who was beaten. He says that it happened at 8:00. He was told about it by another brother who went through together with the one who was beaten. Apparently he had an argument with the soldiers about where he was supposed to stand – in front of or behind the revolving gate. The beating began after the brother had already finished the inspection procedure and left the building. M. said his brother has some problem in his chest, so because of the beating he asked that he be taken to an Israeli hospital and signed a waiver for the Red Crescent.
“If my brother was rude, let them call the police – why beat him?”
9:40: ‘Adel arrived. His white jeep parked next to the soldiers’ position. He greeted them and continued his work.
9:45 We left.
10:05 We called M., the brother of the man who was beaten. ‘Adel, the DCO, convinced him that his brother’s condition doesn’t justify hospitalization in Israel, and that he should take him to Jenin. He called the Red Crescent and took his brother to be examined in Jenin.
Afternoon: Col. ‘Adel called us in the early afternoon. He apologized that he wasn’t able to meet us in the field, and reported on the conclusion of the incident at the Shaked – Tura checkpoint. He said the Palestinian who had been beaten was dissembling (put on an act), and his injury didn’t justify hospitalizing him in Israel. He was taken to a hospital in Jenin. But, according to Col. ‘Adel, the incident will be investigated in the way all such incidents are.
Continuation: Sunday 11.7.10
Telephone call to M. His brother is ok, undergoing medical tests. I understood he was no longer in the hospital. A friend of his, a lawyer from Umm el Fahm, will handle the matter (that’s why Yesh Din won’t be involved).
He has my phone number if he needs help.
I also received an email from the morning shif (Hanna H., Ruti T.): The man – a Bedouin who lives near Tel Menashe – who was beaten yesterday by one of the soldiers is returning home from the Jenin hospital. He tells us that yesterday, after he left the inspection room, he ran into a soldier who didn’t speak but motioned with his hands in a way that he didn’t understand. He thought he was being asked to raise his shirt and open his belt (the disgraceful belly dance), which is what he did. At the same time he turned around to his brother who speaks Hebrew. When he did his pants must have fallen down, which annoyed the soldier so much that he began beating him. He said that after the beating they brought him past the fence, on the West Bank side, where he collapsed. They then returned him to the inspection room and the soldiers treated him and infused a saline solution. The incident occurred at 8:10, and at 11:30 he was taken to the hospital in Jenin where he was diagnosed with bruises to his upper body. His neck still hurts and tomorrow he’ll return for a follow-up. The soldier who beat him wasn’t at the checkpoint today, but those who took care of the wounded man said “there wasn’t any beating; something happened to his heart and they treated him.”
Guest: Lindsay, a student from Britain
"An American citizen lost her eye last week at the Qalandiyah checkpoint after being struck by a tear gas grenade"
A person we know and who had witnessed the incident told us that on Monday, after word had spread regarding the event on the flotilla, a demonstration on the square in front of the checkpoint had started. One of the protesters headed towards the checkpoint fence and hung the flag of Palestine on it. This act served as a signal to those sitting in front of Big Brother's camera, observing the plasma screens: BP soldiers burst out of the checkpoint and ripped the flag off. The boys at the refugee camp started throwing stones at the armed forces, who responded by throwing tear gas: "they had special rifles", our friend told us, "that can shoot several bullets at once". Grenades of this type had been prohibited for use at short distance ever since the death of Basem Abu-Rahma after being hit in the chest by them, during a Bilin demonstration on February 2009.
The BP spokesmen claim that: "The unit had acted according to regulations, and the grenade had hit the wall and from there it turned towards the protesters". But as our friend showed us, the distance between the shooters and the demonstrators didn't exceed 15 meters. The regulations prohibit the use of this deadly weapon at a distance that doesn't exceed tens of meters, and there is no site at the checkpoint with such a range.
On top of it, as someone who is familiar with the site and the area where it all took place, and based on the photo published in the newspaper (see the link above), the wall (in contrast to what was stated by the BP) is nowhere near the place it all happened.
The young woman who was injured and had lost one of her eyes - fell down on the dirty ground while bleeding, she was picked by those who had surrounded her and was taken away from the site in a vehicle.
- - - - - - - - - -
After trying to figure out the reason why on occasion the ID numbers of people with blue identity cards- citizens (like us) or residents from Jerusalem and most of the Palestinians who are permitted passage, we had come up only with the assumption that the system/ sovereign/occupier, like an octopus spreading his arms all around, the Israeli authority spreads it's many arms onto the bodies, pockets and freedom of the Palestinians, even those among them with special privileges. As though the permit and restriction regime, which like a ball and chain constrains their bodies and souls, isn't enough, while passing though Qalandiya checkpoint the soldiers find and capture people who have unpaid fines and own the country money: municipal rate, income tax and traffic fines etc...
And top of that, while they are stuck between the two turnstiles, some of them are requested to enter the inner room, and that person is left secluded by walls that conceal him from the public, from those who are waiting their turn or those who had already passed and quickly disappeared in the twisting rout. The way to the captain's office from that room isn't long.
15:20: Atarot: There was a line of about 20 cars at Atarot. We didn't stop.
15:30: Qalandiya: Three passageways were operating (No.2,3,and 4 which was only for men). There were no particular problems at the CP during our shift. At 4:10 Passageway No 4 was closed and the soldiers apparently took a break. The Passageway reopened at 4:30 but then Passageway No 3 shut down, just in time for the end of the working day in Ramallah. The men didn't have a problem as Passageway Four was working efficiently (only for men); but progress in the "women's" line, No. 2, was very slow and the line grew longer and longer.
Meanwhile, we met with a Palestinian man who was filing a claim with the Supreme Court of Israel. He signed the papers we had brought and gave us money to pay the court fees. It was a bit uncomfortable to be walking around with so much money in the bag, so we decided to leave early.
When we left Qalandiya at 4:40 we saw a military vehicle in the civilian parking lot. There were lots of little stones lying on the roadway and people told us that the children were throwing rocks. Afterwards, we heard on the radio that the stone-throwing had continued and the CP had been closed.
16:45: We passed Lil/Jabba and Hizmeh CPs on the way to Jerusalem. Traffic was flowing at both CPs.
We arrived at Qalandiya at 5.30. The line was short and passed quickly. The main difference was that the "cages" were empty and that the people stood inside the checking area in line. This procedure influence the tension of those waiting. All the checking booths were open and the passage took 20 minutes. We heard from passers by that the last two days have seen an improvement. But all the same it is possible to understand the anger which has been built up at having to pass through these area each day.
Many children arrive at the checkpoint before 7.00 when the checkpoint opens. The smaller ones with their heavy bags are forced to stand pressed in line between the adults who are hurrying to work and are not open to allowing them a place to stand. When the humanitarian line opens at 6.50 there was a rush especially amongst the pupils.
While we were standing next to the humanitarian line a woman of about 30 stood next to us and in good Hebrew complained that because of the procedures at the checkpoint she had no chance of getting to work on time. Most days she goes through in her car but today because of some unexplained reason she had changed her usual procedure. She said that she worked at the American consulate in East Jerusalem and worked in Ramallah. A minute or two later the "humanitarian" gate opened and we heard shouts and saw some of the schoolchildren who had gone through standing where they were and looking at an unusual sight. Another minutes or two ( photo enclosed) we saw the woman handcuffed and a policeman dragging/pulling/pushing her very violently. The woman seemed to be in complete shock. We immediately phoned the emergency number of the American consulate to tell them what had happened. We spoke to the district administrator of the Jerusalem envelope and asked him to intervene.
After some time he phoned us and asked us to explain what we had seen. At 9.30 we phoned the American Consulate to find out what was happening to the woman and they refused to give us a reply and said that the matter had been turned over to the security officer of the consulate.
When we left at 8.00 there was no queue. According to the Ecumenical workers whose numbers are not always accurate we were told that 2500 people had gone through.
While writing this report the security officer of the American Embassy phoned to ask what we had seen and we can only hope that the matter was speedily brought to a close.
They, with their pointed rifles, their menacing question, the clicking keyboard at their fingertips, issuing (or not) permits for grace or doom - here are some of the things they say about and to the people whose lives, health, fragile routine and even death they manage. Their musings, inarticulate comments, brutishness - all these come back to us as from a mirror directly reflecting our collective image.
We must level our gaze at it.
Some of them say outright, never hesitant or ill-at-ease, that the Palestinians are not human. For them they are like animals. Dogs or donkeys, mostly.
From the reports
...The Military Policewoman inspecting IDs does not cease to yell and swear at the Palestinians stepping up to her: "Don't worry, dance, dance. Wait till you get here"; "What a dog!". A soldier stands on the concrete ledge between the waiting lines, pointing his handgun at them. For the full report press here.
...The soldier slightly moves his index finger, signaling the driver to ‘move on', a gesture usually accompanied with text: "Go, go, go, go you jackass..."
"Go, go go go you son of a gun..."
For the full report press here.
Some don't even see them. Palestinians are transparent to their eyes, as if only they -the soldiers - exist and are stunned when one Palestinian or another think they're actually talking to them:
... (The Military Policewoman) responding to the Palestinian who thought she was speaking Hebrew to him and told her, in anguish - ‘But I don't understand Hebrew!' -
she snaps furiously: "I'm talking to you in Hebrew???! I'm telling you in Arabic, get baaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!"
The other soldiers follow her example and ‘sort out' the waiting lines, for a change.
‘Whoooooooa!! You there, put out that cigarette, now!!!" For the full report press here.
...The soldier rolls his eyes rudely and hisses to his friend, What the hell is she talking to me now for? Let her go away already! For the full report, press here.
And there is the other version: the objectification, the Palestinian who is neither human nor animal, who exists simply to amuse the soldiers, help them pass the time:
5. ... A young man with a white hat. The soldiers taking his hat and play around with it, put it on their heads, then on their helmet. Laugh. Finally, give it back to him. For the full report press here.
... Many people crossing the checkpoint for this early morning hour. Two women-soldiers operate the checking posts. They never cease shrieking vulgarly, for example:
"There goes Yossi Bublil" (dubitable TV personality)
"Come on already!"
"Isn't he a Bublil look-alike?"
"Come, come over here".
"How do you say ‘tomato' in Arabic?
"You're a tomato-head"
"Get over here, you, come on."
And with full force, several times: "Yaniv, you want more?" For the full report press here.
... As if they have no ill intentions, after all what have we done? People will say in their defense. What is humiliation compared to detention, violence, wounding, even killing?
But the latter are a function of how the soldier perceives the Palestinians, and the blurring of their humanity brings on these acts and serves to justify those who send out enlisted men and women to carry them out. Men and women in uniform will not hesitate to carry out orders, and are usually not even aware of the nature of their deeds, just as they would not think twice about these orders before carrying them out:
..."What bullshit", the soldier retorts. ‘WE humiliate?!?" For the report press here.
... That's the order. I only carry out orders... For the full report press here.
The tone is annoyed, angrily disciplinarian:
... "Go on, guys! Move back!! Don't you want to get in today? What is this?! Close the gate, close the gate, I said!!" Occasionally they shriek: "Go!!!!" "What's this, you have no patience?" "Hey, what's that supposed to be!!!" For the full report press here.
As far as the soldiers are concerned, the Palestinians are to blame for their condition, their suffering, for the fact that they are detained at checkpoints, to blame for being punished and for disturbing the ‘security' forces who see themselves accountable for the defense of their people and land, and for enforcing public order.
At times it seems that the soldiers at the checkpoints feel they could operate the system at its best without any delays or problems if only Palestinians would not show up to disturb them, manipulate, cheat, try and bypass them...
Cars are inspected on one lane only, so that vehicles going into Nablus and exiting it are inspected in turns. Soldiers, visibly bored, carry out their demonstrably slow inspections, and at least five cars are waiting endlessly to be allowed in. A soldier mutters, intentionally audible to the Palestinians: "Enough! Stop coming already! Stop it, already!" For the full report press here.
From a casual talk with two security guards, we learned that: Gilad Shalit is still imprisoned. My uncle was killed in a terrorist attack. Last week Palestinians almost threw 2 blocks at me, right here at the checkpoint. Most of the people here at the checkpoint are terrorists. All the above means that the checkpoint should be run precisely as it is run.
Ronny asked A. why the procedure was not made briefer by preliminary checks of the paperwork relevant to an ambulance just arriving at the checkpoint, which would have spared much suffering and perhaps saved lives. The answer was that ‘They', the Palestinians, "are to blame for the unnecessary delays. They were not ready in time and did not notify the authorities in advance.' For the full report press here.
Intoxication with brute force combined with boredom and long, tedious shifts add to the negation of the other and the assurance that the people who face them only wish to deceive them - suspicion must be maintained at all times! The ‘others' are inherently deceitful and manipulative. All of this sometimes drives them (the soldiers) to a constant,
... Lieutenant I. appears and presents himself as the commander of the checkpoint soldiers. He ignores the instruction forbidding soldiers to detain people for punitive or ‘educational' purposes. "This is the only way they'll learn" he tells us, of the three detainees, whose ages range between his father's and his grandfather's. We ask him how they are supposed to know they are forbidden to use this road, if there is no warning sign. "They know", he repeats the mantra again and again. "They know and they do it on purpose". As if ‘they' were some obstinate little children. For the full report press here.
... A young man shows up with his two little brothers, ages six and seven. We don't hear what the DCO officer says to them while sending them back, but guess that he demands to see their parents' IDs. We ask him about this later, and he affirms. I insist, "Why is it, then, that the children must not join their brother, why do they need their parents' documents?" And he says: ‘Have you any idea how many children they steal?" For the full report press here.
... Two young men introduced themselves as lecturers from the university of Nablus, and told us that the shrieking MPwoman had just now taken their IDs, because - she said - they did not move fast enough, and then she took off. I looked for her with them, and as we approached her, and she saw us coming, she broke into a loud parody of a whining complaint: "My ID, my ID, yes, cry to her, cry to her, this won't help you, but go on, cry to her, my ID, my ID, go on, cry", she mocked and moved to another spot with their IDs in her hand. For the full report press here.
"A Palestinian stays a Palestinian" one soldier says to another as they inspect a 45-year old man with an American passport who wished to cross the checkpoint in order to reach the American Consulate. The man was not let through.
"No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it--this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity-- like yours--the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you--you so remote from the night of first ages--could comprehend. And why not? The mind of man is capable of anything--because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future."
Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness