Translator: Hanna K.
Today it is very cold, grey, rain from time to time.
10:05 Salfit CP
Another improvement at the CP: a booth has been added at the left side of the road.
As usual there are two soldiers at the CP. The CP is open, there is no traffic.
10:15 Za'tara/Tapuah intersection
A military jeep at the parking lot
Two soldiers (at least) on the observation tower in the center of the CP.
On the road itself there are neither soldiers nor police.
The traffic is lively, almost as usual.
10:25 On the road from the Za'tara/Tapuah intersection to Huwwara, at the right turn in the direction of Beita, a military hummer is parked horizontally and blocks half a lane.
Three soldiers on the road stop and check vehicles leaving Beita.
They stop a vehicle and wave to the others to pass,
They check I.D.s, trunk. They release it a few minutes later.
Immediately after releasing one they stop another and so on and so forth.
The checking seems haphazard and doesn't last long.
One pedestrian is stopped and checked.
At the center of the village, just opposite the falafel stand, there is a military hummer.
The soldiers are in the jeep.
11:00 Huwwara CP
The CP is empty. There probably are soldiers in the tower, we couldn't see clearly.
The traffic is lively and free.
11:10 Beit Furik CP – empty
11:15 A hummer is parked at the entrance to Itamar
11:20 Again the Huwwara CP
This time there are soldiers here. A military Hummer is parked at the exit from Nablus.
There are four soldiers on the road, they signal and stop cars for checking.
Again – the selection seems haphazard, one vehicle is checked while a soldiers signals to the others to go on driving, and when the checking of one is finished they fish another vehicle.
While we were there they released the cars quite quickly, after checking the I.D.s and the trunk.
11:40 Sara Junction
We see a police car, no detainees. Later, immediately after we turned into road no. 60 we saw a police jeep hastening in the direction of the junction.
12:00 We entered the road to Beit Ibba. We saw no CP not even a flying CP at the Shave Shomron settlement area.
Actually, just as we went back to road no. 60 a military jeep entered and drove in the direction of Beit Ibba. We didn't check.
12:30 Anabta CP
The checkpoint is empty.
We bought coffee from the man with the thermos (it is rainy and cold and he is here!)
and collected a Palestinian hitch hiker who, according to him, had been waiting there for an hour without anybody stopping for him.
12:40 Kafriat/Te'enim passage
No cars as opposed to sunny Saturdays. We returned to Israel.
We arrived. The gate is closed. A military vehicle arrived at the same time we did. About 20 people were already waiting on the village side. A cart and driver waited from the direction of the plant nursery. A few minutes later one of the soldiers standing on the road along the fence turns to the driver of the cart, asking “00”? The driver nods, the soldiers waves “Yalla, come on, come on.”
For some strange reason, the notice in the plastic sleeve listing the hours the checkpoint is open hangs on the gate nearest to the plant nurseries, but the text faces Habla. And if someone coming from the village wants to read what’s on the sign, he’ll need binoculars.
The people from Habla begin to be let in, in groups of 5. Drivers, bicycles, horse and donkey carts – all cross that way. Five reach the revolving gate to the inspection installation, wait one by one at the revolving gate for their turn, enter the inspection room and exit again in a group after 3-4 minutes. People in one of the groups complained that the female soldier conducting the inspection keeps eating and wasting time while carrying out the inspection. The bus with the girls arrives just about now, and the boys’ bus a short time later. The first bus crossed at 7:22.
Qalqilya – 8:11 – We passed what had been the Qalqilya checkpoint. No soldiers. Nadim said that there had been soldiers at the entrance this past Sunday.
Azzun – 8:18 – Open. On Sunday a military vehicle stood at the entrance to the locality.
A military vehicle stands between Jinsafut and Funduq, soldiers next to it, but we saw no cars or people detained.
A military vehicle parked at the Jit junction, toward Beit Iba. No cars or people detained; a military vehicle near the turn to Yizhar/Burin, a spike barrier across the road, soldiers standing next to it. Cars stopped for inspection. We continued toward Sara and then to Qusin. Only the concrete barriers marking the lanes remain at what was once the Beit Iba checkpoint. As if the massive investment in equipment, fortification and maintaining the notorious checkpoint had never occurred. The road from where the checkpoint once stood to Deir Sharaf is still an obstacle course, filled with potholes, and it looks like additional quarries have been established gnawing away at the hills on both sides.
We continued toward the Anabta checkpoint. There the equipment is still in place. We saw no traffic to or from Tulkarm. We saw no soldiers, but according to the rumors they’re observing from the pillbox.
At the Jubara checkpoint - “Te’anim crossing” in Newspeak – we cross the “border” without stopping. On the roadside, next to Abu Hatem’s house, is heavy construction equipment and we already see mounds of earth. Apparently they’re laying a road to relocate the separation fence so that Jubara will again be connected to the West Bank.
We entered the parking area at the Irtach checkpoint. A metal structure that looks like a kind of bridge has been erected on the security road next to the inspection station. A fence stretches from it to a gate that can prevent access to the revolving gates through which people coming from Irtach enter the installation. We learned that it’s to inspect vehicles purchased in Israel. And it looks like this checkpoint is competing for one of the top places in the competition for “the most beautiful garden.” Drip irrigation and a rock garden have also been installed near the area of concrete barriers next to the area where cars pick up laborers in the morning.
A day after the autumn social protest demonstration calling for “fairer treatment” of Israelis, our shift goes, as usual to the Seam Zone and into Palestine. True, MachsomWatch deals with violation of Palestinian human rights, but week in, week out, we see, even if we don’t monitor and report, the victims of Israel’s growing ethnocentrism, its Palestinian citizens, whose civic rights are sorely abused at the “gateways” to the OPT, at Jubara, Eliahu Crossing or Shomron Crossing in the central area: the confrontational or sullen and surly checking by the army or private security personnel reflect the worsening situation for a large percentage of Israel’s population, part of the continuing denial that all relates and is connected to the Occupation. Over the years of monitoring, it’s often struck us that harassment coupled with humiliation have been and still are the most powerful weapons of occupation, and sometimes MachsomWatch is subjected to the same – one way to keep our antenna attuned to the far greater sufferings endured by Palestinians.
There are soldiers, more than half a dozen hanging around the Separation Barrier, showing no interest in opening any of the many gates that make up this checkpoint. Bicycles, young men without bicycles, older men with horse carts – all wait patiently as nothing happens.
13:15 - the seven soldiers present clamber aboard the stationary jeep which speeds off into the distance – and then there were none except one standing guard(?) in the concrete position just by the gate on our side. As is usual, the long-suffering Palestinians wait some more. We call the DCO office. Just then, from our side of the Separation Barrier, a jeep comes up to the locked gate, which is opened for it. We have to wonder if we’re not all actors in some strange theatrical farce. The jeep bears the commander who sets about opening all the gates. No, not all, for, during this shift, the far gate remains closed all the time and must be opened each time a vehicle or a human being wish to enter….
13:20 - on our side, a Palestinian asks the commander if he may go across, or go to the concrete house for his credentials to be checked. “Not yet” is the laconic answer. The full complement of soldiers is now present, and the painter, an inhabitant of Habla, whom we know well, asks if he may carry across the Separation Barrier something (we can’t hear what) that is not permitted. “No way” is the straight answer he receives. “All I did was to ask” he adds.
13:25 - the by now well known cry of “Five at a time” is called out by the commander. The bus with the elementary schoolchildren makes its way across, carrying them home. Again they have waited since before 13:00. We ask why it’s so slow today. “That’s just the way it is” is his rude response. As to why the checkpoint is opened 20 minutes late, instead of at 13:00, he responds in an equally offensive manner, “The army has its reason” or some such ridiculous saying.
13:27 - the DCO calls to see if the checkpoint is open by now but that’s it, no chance for us to add anything else.
13:30 - the commander calls over to a soldier at the far side of the Separation Barrier to open the gate there, and it’s again closed at the whim of the commander.
13:35 - two men arrive on our side of the Barrier, and the three soldiers, including the commander, let them wait as they huddle in the center and talk and talk some more. It sure looks as if they pretend nobody is there. And that, in fact, is the case, for after all to this army of occupation, the Palestinians are “nobody.”
13:45 - the larger green school bus waits on the far side of the Separation Barrier. When the gate is opened, its baggage doors are opened wide, and the soldiers painstakingly examine the inside of the bus.
13:50 - a waiting Palestinian lifts back part of the half opened gate on our side, to help the large bus get through, and is scolded, with a finger, by a soldier. As usual, the girls in the bus wave wildly as they pass by us.
13:55 - the woman from Ras Atiya who works in Israel proper arrives, bearing a huge, heavy sack and other packages. She is cheerful, as always, stops to chat, then struggles to go to the concrete house to be checked. Surprise, surprise, the commander offers to help and takes the heavy sack from her.
Large infrastructure works on the road from Deir Sharaf to Beit Iba, and a longish traffic jam in which nobody honks or gets excited. We must be in Palestine!
The checkpoint is closed, large piles of whitish stones on the sides of the road, not a soldier in sight, but nobody working either. On the concrete barrier across the roadway a sign, in Arabic, indicating that the checkpoint is closed from 23.10.11 until 1.11.11. Many vehicles, as last week, approach the checkpoint, few can see the small typed sign, and many make their way through the dirt path up to Ramin and from thence to Tulkarm.
The female Military Police officer who inspects our IDs, while the soldiers burrow through the trunk of the car, refuses to let our foreign visitors into Israel proper as they are not carrying their visas with them, then indicates that she is the commander of this Crossing. Frequently, MachsomWatch visitors do not carry passports with them, and this is the first time that this has caused an incident, an ugly incident that shows the IDF in all its ugliness. There is a standoff, we are told to park our car far away from the checkpoint, refuse to do so, and although our lawyer is called, in the end we make our way back to the Eliahu Crossing, which, contrary to our expectations of the new private security company, checks neither IDs nor asks any questions but instead bids us goodspeed on our way home. Otherwise, there’s a strong taste of the Occupation which may well linger long after we return.
The turmoil created by the “Arab spring” revolutions may have affected people here, not so its politicians who haven't changed the strategic equation and continue with occupation and settlement building in a language that is, frankly, just stuck in the past. The celebrations on both sides of the divide in the prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas last week freed more than 1,000 prisoners, including Gilad Shalit, and came about through the vox populi, not the vox dei. And what about the situation in the OPT as observed today: more of the same, none of the good, plenty of the bad and the ugly.
A magnificent lesson on what goes on for the long time inhabitants of Qalqiliya and today’s dire life in the Seam Zone, complete with map. The effect of the “girls” (that’s us, MachsomWatch women) on the overall perception Palestinians today have of Israelis – all for the edification of a newcomer. We are called something like “angels of mercy,” but that’s mainly thanks to the women who work with Menuei Shabak and Menuei Mishtara: “they work as if pouring water over hot coals.”
13:10 Gate 1392
We arrive late because of the above session. Six people wait on our side of the Separation Barrier, and it’s clear that this is one of those extra slow days which seem to typify guarding this checkpoint. Nothing moves, and then we begin to understand that the five Palestinians who are called at any one time to be checked inside the concrete house come in as a group and exit also as a group.
13:15 – a Hummer arrives, followed by a jeep as the Hummer soon drives off into the distance. The soldiers’ shift, twenty minutes late, is now complete, but this does nothing to speed the checking.
13:23 – the elementary schoolchildren’s bus has been waiting for nearly half an hour, and it waits some more as the commander, a reservist, confers in the middle of the Separation Barrier with another soldier (also a reservist). Two soldiers, plus the usual woman Military Police enter the bus.
Eliahu Gateway/Gate 109
For us no problem as we are made to cross the obstacle course to get to blue Police and Border Police who sit, waiting for what, on the ground. But at Gate 109, on the far side of the so-called gateway, stand two Palestinian buses, with nobody inside. Palestinians are certainly being checked in the newly expanded and improved checking facility there. In the mornings, Gate 109 continues to be a terrible place for Palestinians who have permits to go to the Seam Zone. Often, if they arrive at 7:00, they don’t get out until 9:30, and the kinds of demeaning behaviors they are subjected to remind us of the worst days at Huwarra or Beit Iba, being forced to undress, subjected to uncouth behaviors of women soldiers, etc. All this seems to have started here at Gate 109 since its privatization.
It’s quiet today, little traffic, as if everybody, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, had had enough of the endless festivals in Israel proper.
Another disastrous year for the olive harvest.
The checkpoint is closed, a row of concrete boulders stands across the narrowest part of the access point. Parallel to the boulders is an army jeep. The soldiers never get out. They watch the endless stream of semi-trailers, cars, trucks, etc., approach the checkpoint, and then watch them maneuver, with difficulty, to turn around. We see one car valiantly clamber up the steep IDF-made mound having found a way to circumvent this latest obstacle in the daily life of a Palestinian. Later, during our watch, a few brave cars, all without four-wheel drive, make their way down this huge mound, into the dust-filled dirt path to make their way to where they want or need to go. Of course, no signs announcing that the checkpoint is closed today as there are roadworks beyond, or so we are told. No, let them come up to the concrete boulders, and let them do what they will. Not a concern for the army of occupation.
We have time to study the junction itself and the signs on it. One, in particular, takes our fancy, or at least draws attention to itself. In bright, glowing colors, on the background of a photo of the beautiful Roman ruins at Sebastia, near Nablus, (which we are forbidden to visit, in spite of their fame and beauty) the “next festival of Samaria in Sebastia” is announced for Sukkot (the just passed Jewish festival) on 17.10.11. Once again, the settlers are more equal than all others.
A soldier there asks where we’ve been shopping, but the name of Habla means not a thing to him, nor does that of MachsomWatch!
The October 2011 reports of the United Nation’s (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHOA), began either with “Fast Facts” or “Key Issues.” Both headings speak to an Occupation that is even more horrible than in the past. “Israeli forces injured 22 Palestinians throughout the OPT. Settlers injured another three Palestinians and vandalized around 250 trees. Israeli authorities demolished 26 Palestinian-owned structures, mainly including residential tents and water cisterns in “Area C,” where Israel retains control over security as well as planning and zoning. And all this throughout the OPT where already half a million Israelis live, and where Israel, in A.B. Yehoshua’s words, “nibbles” at the territory of the Palestinians where, in fact it is “plundering and infringing the very essence of the inhabitants’ identity.” What hope is there for a Palestinian state in such an environment?
Habla, Gate 1392
13:02 – the mess created by the change, in Israel, but not in Palestine, from daylight savings time last week, seems to have worked itself out. The same, we are told, could be said about the change from the IDF to a privately contracted firm to be on duty at Sha’ar Eliahu (Gate 109) where the checking , we are told, is a little less arduous than last week, but where Palestinians are treated very differently, surprise, surprise, from Israelis. These conversations go on while all wait for the gate/checkpoint to open. A soldier comes out to the waiting Palestinians, about a dozen of them, to say, “in two minutes.”
13:06 – again, surprise, surprise, the two minutes is, in fact, five when a Hummer arrives bringing the rest of those scheduled, including the Military Policewoman who again makes her presence felt here.
13:15 – the same people waiting here before 13:00, including the lady who offered us fresh “lubia” (freshly picked beans), still wait.
13:25 – only now do most of the waiting people get through. Shortly afterwards, the school bus comes by, carrying the cheerful Bedouin school kids (boys today) on their way home. We notice, not for the first time, that the bus, this school year, is much smaller than before. We wonder if this hasn’t to do with the number of homes that have been pulled down from the area near Alfei Menashe, in which case, those children probably no longer go to school in Habla.
13:30 – Separation Barrier near the ’Enclave’ around Alfei Menashe
Once again the gate here, facing us, is open, again no work on the new road being created by Israel near the Barrier, and we note that the flags are still flying at the little hamlet which is surrounded on all sides by Israel’s so-called “protective measures,” but which, in actual fact, give license for the settlement of Alfei Menashe to expand and attain contiguity with the nearby Green Line.
Free flowing traffic, no police or military
All quiet today, few military or police vehicles around. At Azzun, we note, once again, that the flags that flew so proudly the day Abu Mazen returned to Ramallah from the UN General Assembly are no more. Individual flags, perhaps, for those who are brave enough to withstand the punishment of the Occupiers, but at the official level, say, the Municipality of Azzun, no way can they deal with the harassment and humiliation which has surely made them remove the colorful bunting and the flags from the central roundabout in this town.
There are works going on at the former checkpoint, and rather than leaping to conclusions, we realize that the rocky road leading to Deir Sharaf is probably also caused by infrastructure works, maybe new sewers (and not the recreation of the infamous checkpoint).
No checkpoint, no police or military in sight. Just the usual busy traffic making its way onward to Jenin.
14:30 Deir Sharaf
The DCO was “good enough,” we learn, to call the local Council to tell the Palestinian landowners that they had from 9-13 October to pick their own olives in the olive groves just south of the Shavei Shomron settlement. So, today, the second day of Israeli-authorized olive picking – from lands many of which were, years ago, stolen from local families, some are indeed picking olives, but, once again this year, in their words, “It’s only half a harvest.” Only two brothers of the M. family are picking olives where once, maybe four or five years ago, some of us joined the many brothers and sisters, the aging mother and a variety of youngsters. S., the man selling vegetables and fruits from a cart, shows the meager picking of his harvest. Half a sack load where once he had sixty. He goes on to tell us of the scourge of wild boars that descend on the village after nightfall, the boars having been set upon the village of Deir Sharaf, by the Israelis, at the start of the Second Intifada, and boars, as most people know, eat everything and make life exceedingly difficult – but that’s the idea of this Occupation.
On the way to Anabta and Jubara, nothing to report, and at the Figs Gate, all our IDs or passports are checked or rather looked quizzically by an uncommunicative military policeman, our trunk checked. Business as usual.
15:30 Irtah/Sha’ar Efraim
Surprise, surprise, the guard, whom we already know, more or less welcomes us, telling us that Palestinians are no longer checked on their return from work as they make their way back home, but that we can’t join them. To Tulkarm, we wonder? And he tells of the delicious food, particularly the hummus that he’s eaten there. A mad world.
The many, many men returning from work are cheerful, and often have greetings for the four of us. One woman whom we’ve known from the Habla gate now tells of her great joy in coming through this “terminal” as she now has a job (plus, of course, a permit) to work in another town in Israel proper. The usual cheerfulness and friendliness of the Palestinian workers is heartwarming.
Although we, the women of MachsomWatch, try to shine light on the evils of occupation, we are only too aware that the occupied, the oppressed, the Palestinians rarely make the headlines, let alone the media. Yet, for more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Whether the shadows will once again obscure the evils of occupation remains to be seen, so it is up to us, those of us who venture to occupied territory, to Palestine, to continue to highlight violations of human rights and focus on the day to day abominations of occupation. Yet, today, the day Abu Mazen returned to Ramallah from the United Nations General Assembly, it would be inexcusable, no, unfeeling of us not to highlight the proudly waving symbol of Palestine’s liberty and freedom atop so many buildings and decorating the many roadways we passed by on our shift.
More problems have been created lately at Gate 1392, although rumors that it would be closed in October appear to be unfounded. Every day, there appears to be “something new,” put into place by soldiers on duty and meaning rules and regulations, probably not emanating from high up but made up on the spot by those same soldiers on duty.
13:10 At the gate itself, one solider, one military policeman and one Hummer, joined soon by a jeep and soldiers which soon triple the numbers guarding this agricultural gate. We see the son of the greengrocer who has walked to the concrete house to have his permit, etc. checked, returns to his truck on the Habla side of the Security Barrier and is made to lift up its canvas sides for “checking.” This is a man who crosses here several times a day, and, sure enough, ten minutes later, he returns to cross back to Habla. Again his empty truck is checked, and the same rigmarole goes on and on and on.
We question the soldiers, politely, as to why almost all of them are wearing something around their right ankle, a padded looking “protection” of some sort, or a place to conceal something, maybe a knife? We are left guessing as the answer we receive from the commander, a captain, is that it it is to protect the knee (just the right knee, mind you, and yet so far from the target)!!
13:45 on route 55, the first of many blue Police is seen. This one has pulled over a car bearing Israeli license plates (yellow) and police are questioning a couple of young men. All this before the gas station and the junction to Alfei Menashe.
At the junction, at the turnoff to the settlement, an armored blue police Hummer.
On the road leading to the Security Barrier and to Alfei Menashe, we see that more Bedouin shacks have been pulled down, the homes of many human beings now a mere pile of rubble. Yet, signs of life: on our return from Gate 1360, at 14:00. The green school bus is letting off the elementary school kids that we usually see at the Habla agricultural gate.
Once again, the gate on the “Israeli” side of the Separation barrier is open, but the many gates on the other side are firmly locked. As we peer across the Separation Barrier, we spy a flag waving in the breeze, high atop the opposite hill. It’s not been there before: yes, it’s the Palestinian flag, and there are many more that we now observe in the village below, flying from private homes, sometimes three at a time.
14:10 “Welcome to Eliahu Crossing Point” shouts a new sign in three languages. There is much action at this new and enlarged checkpoint which has been privatized and seems to be run by the same company as at Irtah (Sha’ar Efraim – same uniforms). The welcome is made manifest by Border Police and blue Police, working in tandem, stopping many cars coming from Israel proper. Note: MW should stop and monitor here in the future.
No prize for guessing: more blue Police, and we note that Israeli cars (yellow license plates) bearing Palestinian Israelis -- women with hijabs -- have been stopped. We should probably monitor here in the future too.
Nabi Elias and Azzun both display Palestinian flags and bunting, and there are flags also alongside Route 55, except in the areas of settlements where the blue and white flag flies as if it’s Israeli Independence Day (which usually falls in May)! More Palestinian flags at the junction of the road going to Ariel, via Immanuel, more in Funduk, Israeli flags outside Quedumim, Palestinian flags at Jit village, Israeli flags at Jit Junction and again at the Junctions of Routes 57 and 60…..These observations clearly deserve a graph or a more graphic description than mere words….
14:45 Shavei Shomron
An armored blue police Hummer, one blue policeman, one solider. The policeman is crudely brusque and commanding, “Turn around and get out…..this is Area A, only security and the army can come here.”
On question: what is the blue Israeli police doing guarding checkpoints today in cahoots with the army?
Here there are not only Palestinian flags but tee shirts and a flag bearing “Palestine 194 UN.”A small crowd of men is absorbed in watching, on the television, Abu Mazen’s joyous return to the Muquata in Ramallah. People are happy although the food delivery man filling the coolers with salads (Israeli salads) mentions that he was beaten by Border Police last Wednesday in Huwwara, and others confirmed rumors of Palestinians being fined for bearing Palestinian flags on their cars. During our whole shift, we saw only one such flag on a car, but many dozens on houses and along roadways.
We can’t help but note that Area A which has not figured prominently on signs in the past couple of years seems to have appeared once again on these red signs, often fixed to large concrete boulders. No soldiers visible at Anabta, and the next flags spotted were at Avne Hefetz (Israeli settlement).
The trunk of the car is checked by a gaggle of military police people, and other than a new brightly colored canvas shelter for soldiers guarding the Tulkarm exit checkpoint, northing else to report.
15:35 Irtah (Sh’ar Efraim)
Here we listen to stories of harassment and of waiting for hours to enter Israel in the early morning hours. We note that the packing case that has been placed on the far side of the turnstile leading back home for the Palestinian workers has been joined by a large load of building material, strategically placed in front of the turnstile – just a mere new obstacle! Dozens and dozens of men returning home, many bearing sweetly smelling guavas being sold by an enterprising driver at the entrance to the stop off area. One can’t help but notice the general bonhomie and good mood of the Palestinians. They have achieved much in the past week in spite of the continuation of this endless occupation.
06:50 Habla gate
The gate was closed, a military vehicle and soldiers were waiting. A Palestinian van was waiting on the Israeli side, and many Palestinians on the Palestinian side. Two military vehicles, one of them large and white, arrive from the direction of the nursery and enter the gate. More soldiers get out of them.
07:02The first five people enter the inspection booth. The soldiers get organized and the big vehicle turns into an x-ray vehicle (like there was at Hawarra in the past). Occasionally, one of the Palestinians is asked to pass his bag or pack through the x-ray machine. The inspection is quick.
07:06The first five people come out.
07:10The second five people come out. 3 women are sent by the soldiers to the back of the line, even though the men let them pass.
07:14 The third set of five come out. The inspection is fast, despite the occasional checking of bags in the x-ray machine. The elderly guard of the nursery passes through without having to descend from his cart.
07:20Two buses with children arrive. The drivers are checked quickly, outside the line, and pass through. 2 vans loaded with plants arrive from the direction of Habla and pass through quickly, without inspection. Aside from the addition of the x-ray vehicle, the passage is without incident and fast. They complained that yesterday there was a policewoman who yelled and cursed them and even sent people to the end of the line. They also complained that, in order to start work at 08:00 in the marble factory next to the nursery, they have to arrive 2 hours early to wait in line.
07:50We stayed for a while to talk with people and to see if there were any further changes.
We were told that the workers from Alfei-Menashe were not allowed to go through the Eliyahu gate from today and they were forced to go to Eyal, something which made it very difficult for them. Workers who have an agricultural permit can still go through.
08:00 Eliyahu gate. The new building is not yet in use. Next to it is a parking lot, but we missed the entrance to it, so we couldn't stop. There is a very long line of cars (about 30) in front of the entrance to Israel. We also saw about 25 workers waiting, as usual, at the entrance to the inspection booth. It seemed to us that, because the personnel has changed, everything was going more slowly.
08:05 The entrance to 'Azzun is open.
08:15 The agricultural crossing at Falamya is characteristically quiet. No special preparations seen. We travel by way of Falamya to the village of Jamal. It seems that there are more PLO flags in the village. A hitchhiker whom we picked up told us that in Jamal everyone received permits for the olive harvest. He showed us his metal workshop in the village of Kur, but continued with us to the checkpoint at Jabara.
08:40The checkpoint at Jabara was quiet, cars parked outside, 3 women arrived from the village and passed without any inspection in the booth. The hitchhiker said that it is usually like that at Falamya as well. He also told us that the farmers from Aras who have land in the border area pass through the checkpoint at Jabara in order to reach them. We return by way of the Olive square, Hajjah and Funduk to highway 55. The stores are open at Funduk and lives goes on as usual.
09:15 Deir Sharaf We met N. and he signed the documents. He was helped in the past by S, but his permit was taken from him again, with no reason given, and S is trying to help him again. We spoke with A., the owner of the grocery/bakery.
10:15We went up to Shavei Shomron. No checkpoint, but the yellow gate, as always, was ready, also at 'Anabta. The coffee man returned and one car was parked after the turn. The whole trip, from the entrance to the area of the PNA until the exit, by way of the Fig gate, with the MachsomWatch flags flying, we did not see any military vehicles or soldiers, except at the passages themselves. Let's hope this continues. As the grocery owner said, "Inshallah and god willing, since it is anyway the same god..."
.We planned to cover Route no. 3, but since we were asked to meet a Palestinian from Tulkarm at 'Anabta and get his signature on documents we changed the location at which we started.
07:10 Te’anim checkpoint. Traffic flows.
07:15 Karin suggested we turn to the road to Avnei Hefetz to see whether the entrance to Izbat at Tabib is still open or whether it was again blocked after the end of Ramadan and Eid el Fitr.
And in fact it’s been closed again, this time with a yellow gate and heavy concrete blocks to obviate any doubts!
We saw a few people riding donkeys at this hour of the morning, coming from Shufa and going through the roadblock on their way to Izbat Shufa People also walk the long distance on foot. A large taxi arrives from Izbat Shufa, lets off some passengers and waits by the roadblock for people on foot who hurry to get in and ride to Izbat Shufa or on to Tulkarm.
07:25 We return to the main road and see on the way between Shufa and Einav two military vehicles by the roadside.
07:30 We meet A. at the turn to the 'Anabta checkpoint and he signs the documents that S. has sent with us.
To connect with Route no. 3 we cross from Route 60 via Jit junction to Route 55 through Funduq to'Azzun where we then begin. We saw no military vehicles on the way but much Palestinian traffic. Children cross the main road in Jit village on their way to school.
07:50 We go through Funduq. Many shops are open and many pedestrians are on the street.
Israeli flags fly from electrical poles all along the road, more or less from the turn to Moshe Zar’s fortress until beyond the turn to Karnei Shomron.
08:00 The pillboxes on both sides of the entrance to 'Azzun are also decorated with Israeli flags; the lights are on.
From here we follow Route no. 3. The description is accurate and the road is very lovely.
Paragraph 7 of the description of the route brings us to Abu Sliman village and a stop sign where instead of turning left we can continue straight to an agricultural gate open between 06:00-06:30 and 17:00-17:30. (Gate no. 1419; if someone wants to go there in the afternoon they should confirm with the DCO that those hours are still in effect).
08:20 We follow the directions to the northern 'Azzun 'Atma checkpoint, where crossing is unrestricted (Par. 8). The buildings of the settlement of Sha’arei Tikva literally dominate the village. We continue to the southern checkpoint where we’re not allowed through. Dozens – perhaps hundreds – of cars are parked before the checkpoint, belonging to laborers from all the neighboring villages to work in the area’s settlements and in agriculture in the adjoining seam zone.
About 10 laborers wait at the entrance to the inspection building.
We return to the exit from the village and follow the directions. From time to time, when we were unsure we were heading in the right direction, we asked people who always responded very courteously and pleasantly.
The village of Rafat (Par. 14) sits on a hill and the road up to it winds around and descends very steeply, ascends to the village and again descends on the other side winding steeply. We continue following the directions.
The Deir Ballut checkpoint is open and traffic is unrestricted, but it’s clear that controls can be reinstituted at any minute.
09:45 We reach Bruqin village (Par. 17), stop next to a large building with a sign in English and Arabic indicating that it’s the post office; it turns out to be the municipal building. We ask where the turn is to Route 5 and receive, of course, an answer but are also asked who we are and are immediately invited for coffee in the municipality.
The settlement of Bruqin can be seen opposite the village.
We tell the secretary of the municipality and a number of people who gather in his office about MachsomWatch, give him phone numbers to call and discuss the situation in Hebrew, English and Arabic (Nina’s). The mayor also shows up and invites us to his sumptuous office. We talk with him; he describes the village and its most serious problem – a demolition order for a new school and a new mosque built in Area C (on village land). An attorney from Ramallah is handling the case. We give him the phone number of Yesh Din and the Association for Civil Rights. I leave the mayor my phone number and take his elaborate business card.
We meet a man whose olive grove adjoins the settlement’s houses, and even though there’s no fence the settlers don’t let him cultivate the land and harvest the olives. When he asks the soldiers for help they chase him away. He says he possesses all the documents proving the grove belongs to his family. He claims the Palestinian DCO isn’t helping him. We suggest he contact Zecharia and the rabbis regarding the harvest.
10:15 We say goodbye very amicably and continue on our way.
We drive from Brukin to the western Ariel industrial zone and go through an open checkpoint which can easily be closed again. The road leads to Route 5 through the Shomron crossing to Israel.
06:55 The soldiers are already here but haven’t begun letting people through.
07:03 The first five people enter for inspection.
Inspection is quick and 20 people cross in 15 minutes, as well as a large bulldozer whose driver is checked.
Two military vehicles arrive on the unpaved road between the plant nurseries leading to the crossing. They drive onto the security road and continue on merry and gleeful…
07:16 The first bus with children arrives, and then the second. The drivers are checked quickly, a soldier gets on the bus and exits through the rear door. The baggage compartment is also inspected.
07:35 Eliyahu crossing
At least 30 Palestinians wait to enter the inspection facility. Construction and expansion of the checkpoint doesn’t appear to have progressed very far.
We drive via Nebi Elias, enter 'Azzun and turn under Route 55 to Jayyus. We pass the village and drive down the road to Tulkarm. We pass the turn to the Jayyus agricultural crossing, which is closed at this hour, and reach the Falamya agricultural crossing which is open.
08:00 Falamya agricultural gate.
Nobody crossing at this hour and we drive on.
We drive through the village of Falamya, continue to Kafr Jammal and turn onto the road to Tulkarm on the way to the Jubara/children’s gate checkpoint.
I want to note that there are few people in the street at this hour, the schoolchildren have already gone to school (we saw children standing in rows in the schoolyard), and everything is closed except for shops selling food.
08:20 Children’s gate – Jubara
Cars parked outside the gate. A taxi arrives; a man gets out, enters for inspection, comes through quickly and continues into the village; a woman coming from the village gets into a taxi after a quick inspection and drives off.
A pickup truck arrives, the driver gets out, is checked and drives into the village.
Such is the daily routine of a village surrounded by a fence; only the residents and permit holders are allowed to enter.
We turn around and drive to Zayit plaza where we turn left toward the village of Kur. We turn left a little before the village toward Beit Lid. The winding road is lovely.
08:45 Beit Lid
We drive into the village and stop to ask where to turn to reach the way out; three people come over immediately to help and explain. By now more stores are open and more people are in the street. We turn on Route 557 toward Deir Sharaf.
09:00 Deir Sharaf
A quick stop at a bakery for coffee and baked goods and a casual conversation with workers in the bakery and the grocery about Ramadan and the holiday that’s just ended, and we turn toward 'Anabta. A military ambulance is parked on the roadside at the turn off Route 60 from Deir Sharaf to Route 557 toward 'Anabta. It’s the only military vehicle we see on the road during our entire shift.
We later learned that settlers carried out reprisals that morning in the Huwwara area.
09:20 The 'Anabta checkpoint is open and cars go through freely in both directions. There’s a military vehicle, and soldiers in the guard tower who are apparently observing those who are crossing. We noticed that the coffee sellers and the cars that had been parked in the past were no longer there. The fig sellers weren’t there either.
09:30 We returned via the Te’anim crossing after a quick check of our ID cards.
Overall, the area is quiet; much commercial activity apparent, almost no military presence felt. We saw the first sea squills of the season on our way to Jayyus, and then many more – fall has arrived, bringing pleasant weather. The temperature didn’t rise above 79 degrees on the hills.
06:35 Eliyahu crossing – about six people wait to cross.
06:47 Jayyus gate north – the gate has opened, and on time. Few crossing; according to the women from EPPPI it’s been that way recently. Mule carts and tractors cross and also one woman. All goes quickly; our friend the female MP is in charge. The gate closes at 07:16
07:30 Falamya gate – A tractor arrives with a boy aged about 10. The father explains at length through the window to whoever’s within that he has to bring his son with him to help move irrigation pipes and open the faucets. After the repeated explanation, the person within is convinced and the father and son are permitted to cross. A man arrives and opens sluice gates on the water pipe on the Palestinian side of the fence. He explains to us that the water comes from the direction of Falamya and flows to the other side. He continues to the seam zone to open additional sluice gates, apparently for irrigation. Few cross at this hour.
08:00 Jubara gate (the children’s gate) is quiet, a lighter flow of cars and taxi passengers than usual arrives and crosses to and from Jubara. A donkey cart from Jubara stands next to the soldiers’ position, being inspected. All the contents have been removed – lots of junk, and a bicycle. All had been unloaded when we arrived and it took the young driver about 15 minutes to load it back on the cart – a few more inspections and he also crosses.
08:45 Shvut Ami – no activity.
08:50 Jit junction – An army vehicle near the junction on the north side, no soldiers visible; on the way back it was no longer there.
09:00 'Anabta junction – No coffee sellers or cars waiting at the junction. An army jeep at the checkpoint but no soldiers visible; crossing is unrestricted.
09:35 The entrance to Qalqilya is open and unrestricted.
09:40 Eliyahu crossing – A compound under construction is separated by a very high wall in the parking lot south of the crossing.