09:40 We stopped at the Palestinian workers' crossing at Irtach. It was empty and quiet at that hour. It was also dirty with lots of trash strewn around.
We went through Te'enim Gate as we noted that Jubarra is completely blocked from that side. There is a new fence that includes Abu Khatem's house. And the old fence is still there also. Double security.
As we drive we note the beautiful almond trees in bloom. Anabta is open and empty. There is a military jeep at the road leading to Shavei Shomron. It's a lovely spring day and we pass a number of shepherds with their flocks of goats and sheep. We have to stop to let them cross the road.
Habla is empty and quiet. At the plant nursery we see many full grown olive trees for sale. We wonder where they came from.
11:00 We left through the Eliahu Gate.
Ordinary day of occupation. The passage at 'Azzun 'Atma is slow, at Habla everything is as usual. The children are still on vacation.
06:05 Entrance from Oranit in the direction of Tamar Gate
There is light beside the gate and it is clear that the army is already there. Soon we see figures in the dark coming towards us on the road where the gate is open. They say that everything is quiet.
06:30 'Azzun 'Atma
There are a lot of people waiting outside on both sides of the road. A lot of bonfires have been set up to warm those waiting for transport. There are about 70 people in line, which is relatively a lot compared to recent days when we were here at the same hour. The passage is rather slow because, like a week ago, the soldiers close the gate and every time that 2 people pass inspection they open the gate again; two more enter and they close the gate again. After I photographed what was happening, a soldier came up to me in anger and asked to check that I hadn't photographed him. I showed him the pictures and we explained to him how his work method was slowing down the passage of people - which was something we wished to show in the photos. We spoke about the serious difficulty for the people standing in line, day after day, not for pleasure - discotheque - but because they had to go to work to support their families.
Afterward, when it was his turn to operate the gate, he did leave the gate open and, every time that someone got to the inspection booth, he already let the next one in line move forward in line through the gate. It really did make the whole operation more efficient. During this entire period, the line did not decrease, as people kept coming .
They are working on the side of the road with huge equipment on the southern side and also at the entrance to Shaarei Tikva. It seems that the fence will be moved in such a way that the residents of Shaarei Tikva and their friends will have a new entrance and all the area of the entrance will apparently be returned to'Azzun 'Atma . It isn't clear what was the point of this huge investment in improving the checkpoint. But perhaps they misled us and it isn't going to be moved elsewhere. What is certain is that there will be a new fence around'Azzun 'Atma or, as the Palestinian Israeli worker told us, they are creating a separation fence for it.
There are almost no people; whoever arrives takes only a minute for inspection. There are a lot of wagons and cars going through in relation to previous days. The children are still on vacation - another week and a half, and one is quite conscious of them accompanying their parents to work.
07:50 Eliyahu Gate
4 cars are being inspected and very few people are waiting in the pedestrian line. There is a new shed at the entrance for inspection on the pedestrian line, and another
shed farther down the path where they must walk, around the checkpoint, in order to reach the road and continue on their way.
It is quiet as usual at this hour; nevertheless, people continued to arrive with wagons and cars with work equipment to go to the fields. There are a number of children among them who joined their parents, even 3 small children, maybe 4, 6 and 7, who went out with their parents to the field or the grove. At a certain point there was even a short line at the inspection booth.
We continued by way of Jit to Deir Sharaf. The hills are already green, with wildflowers blossoming as well as almond trees in honor of Tu b'Shvat.
09:10 Shavei Shomron - no checkpoint, free passage.
In the shop at Deir Sharaf they told us that life isn't so bad, but there isn't enough work and everyone must get permits to work in Israel. If they would only let us work, all of us would be satisfied and everything would be fine.
The usual situation, very quiet and relaxed, in spite of everything that is happening in Gaza. During our conversations with the local people, everyone says that it is all because of the governments and that the people only want quiet; to live and to work.
06:20 'Azzun 'Atma
A lot of workers outside; a few - maybe 30 - waiting to cross through. The passage is swift and everything is quiet and relaxed. There is still no protection from the rain! Will someone ever do something about it? The Palestinians say that they are all going out to work, no change.
First group goes through, the gate has just opened. Normal passage, about 5 people pass through in 4-5 minutes. There are about 50 people in line, so they will be waiting in line for about an hour.
A bus full of children comes. They let the driver wait a minute until they bring him to have his documents checked. They also check the bus - what could they want to smuggle into Habla, and who cares? but they check. At 07:25 the bus of boys arrives. This time the driver goes directly into the inspection, but they also check this bus.
There are still a lot of people waiting. Wagons with horses and donkeys and cars are also waiting to cross.
08:05 Eliyahu Gate
As usual, there are 4 cars being inspected and about 20 pedestrians waiting to be checked.
We went through Azbet Tabib to see what was happening there. Everything was quiet, the school was open and the protest tents were closed. On the way to the main road by way of 'Azzun, there was business activity, people out in the street and everything was relaxed.
08:30 Shavei Shomron
The gate was open; no soldiers.
09:20 'Anabta checkpoint
Open, no soldiers to be seen in the area.
7.00 Habla. When we arrived the bus with girls was parked and had been waiting a long time.
A tractor goes by with no delay.
7.10The bus with the boys arrives. After a usual check the driver got out very angry. The woman soldier wanted him to wait but he had no problem making it clear that the children could not be late for school. The traffic flow is relatively slow. There are not many people. There are many donkeys.
On the Palestinian side left of the fence a group of internationals are watching. We could not contact them.
8.00We arrived at Beit Iba–Deir Sharafthrough Sara. All is quiet and no army vehicle is to be seen on our way. We stopped to speak to the people in the shop. There is a growth in development but the road is still very bad as always. The plans to improve and widen it have been put aside. (Where did the money go to?). The problem of wild boar has not been solved and they come up every now and again from the wadi.
Shavei Shomron.The traffic flows. The ugly cement blocks of the checkpoints remind as that everything can change in a moment.
8.30 Anabta.The traffic flows with no problems.
8.50 Irtah.There are four buses there (amongst the six of the morning). They are taking the families to visit the prisoners. People kept arriving at the checkpoint and getting into the buses. We spoke to some of them and without taking into account the horrible situation there were no complaints. One of the buses left without being accompanied by police or army. It seems this is the accepted procedure.
Translator: Judith Green
6:30 Azzun Atma
Because of delays, we were a bit late. Lots of people were sitting outside already, waiting for transports. There was a line of about 30 people; by 6:30, all had gone through. The soldiers said that because of the new system, and the political situation, the passage is quick. It was too late to take a look at the Tamar Gate, so we decided to show Barbara, our guest, the isolated house of Hani, at the outskirts of Elkana.
6:50 To our surprise, a car full of soldiers appeared right after us; they opened the Gate to the road and drove off to the north. We were told by the security guard that they had gone to open another gate. Right after that, a security guard arrived from the settlement who told us that we had entered a military area - notice the sign! The sign was one meter behind us.
More soldiers arrived and then, at 7:10, the security guard left toward the eastern gate of the security fence, in the direction of Mashah, and opened it. He checked the documents of those waiting there and let them enter Elkanah. Some of them immediately went down toward the fields and a few went in the direction of Elkanah. 11 women went by, 6 men, including one youth and the rest elderly, and 4 children. 2 youths were sent back and we weren't able to find out why. Some of them had carts and donkeys and they all had harvesting equipment. At 7:20, the gate was closed by the security guard.
It is surprising that the control over the passage is in his hands and not in the hands of the army. Since when can security guards decide who is allowed to go through??
There were still about 20 people waiting to go through; the passage was faster than usual.
A tractor was stuck in the mddle of the passage. The problem was that the driver did not have the proper permit. The soldiers were clearing it up with the DCO and were told that he was not allowed to go through. He claimmed that he always went through and that is the arrangement. It turned out that the soldiers had spoken with someone of a low rank at the DCO. We called Tedesa, after the tractor driver contacted the Palestinian DCO. Tedesa already knew about the problem and immediately permitted the tractor's passage through.
We also went to Shavei Shomron - highway #60, in order to see if everything was open there and there were no detainees and, at the bakery, they assured us that there were delays only (!) on days when the settlers were traveling to Homesh.
After Sunday’s reports about checkpoints being established at many locations, we decided to make a complete circuit to see what’s going on. We saw no flying checkpoints other than one that was removed while we were in the field. There were more military vehicles than usual on the roads, but they didn’t interfere with Palestinian traffic.
06:40 Eliyahu crossing – A number of cars at the inspection station for Palestinians (from Israel as well as from Palestine). Crossing takes 5-6 minutes. The cars are checked by dogs and also by people. Not many people on the pedestrian line, but we couldn’t time how long it took them to get through because no one wore clothes that stood out and we were standing too far away to identify those entering and remember them. People coming out said it took about 10 minutes to cross.
07:10 Habla – The gate is already open and we see that many people crossed. On average, it takes ten people about 6 minutes to go through. Initially, people were inspected at the guard station, where there was a soldier with a portable computer and a second soldier with a scanner. Later the computer in the inspection room was turned on and people again crossed there. At 07:20 the children’s bus arrives, the driver waits for the soldiers to notice him and wave him over to the inspection stations. He said that people with a 00 license go through without having to stop at the inspection station, and he’ll try to get one. Then the bus advances to the middle of the crossing and a soldier inspects its baggage compartments – as if something would be smuggled into Habla!
Tractors cross with tools, material, olive seedlings – there’s a great deal going on here. If only people could live here without the damn checkpoint.
We continued via the entrance to Qalqilya and drove through 'Azzun – no soldiers at the entrances; they’re open (the previous day soldiers were reported to have been there).
08:10 Jit junction – From a distance we saw military vehicles and what looked like a flying checkpoint at the Sara/Huwwara junction. We decided to first stop by Deir Sharaf – the road to Shavei Shomron. The checkpoint was open but the police officers standing there stopped a Palestinian for inspection, and us as well. After inspecting my documents – driver’s license, vehicle registration – and finding out that we just want to see what’s going on here, they let us continue.
We stopped at the bakery in Deir Sharaf. They told us that Jit junction is closed to traffic driving toward Huwwara.
08:50 Back to Jit junction. Now two military cars were standing on the side above the junction, but the soldiers were lounging in the cars, apparently not doing anything. Another military car and civilian pickup truck stood on the side of the road to Huwwara, not doing anything, electrical cables and tools alongside them. The crossing was open in all directions. Apparently there’d been a flying checkpoint there which had been dismantled by the time we arrived. We watched what was going on for a while and then continued to Huwwara.
09:10 Huwwara – The crossing is open. No soldiers on the road.
09:30 Beit Furiq – The crossing is open, no soldiers on the road except for the one who’s always at the ascent to Mt. Gerizim.
09:50 Za’tara junction – Soldiers are present who from time to time ask some driver something, but the crossing is open, even if slow. In fact, we crawled all the way up because the crossing went so slowly.
10:00 The entrance to Ariel/Salfit – No military. We entered in the direction of the entrance to Salfit to see what’s happening there. Two soldiers stood at the entrance to the road to Salfit (where there’s a yellow gate that can block the road) who told us we can’t drive to Salfit in a car with an Israeli license plate. We turned around and returned home.
The second day of Eid al Adha – Festival of the Sacrifice
The checkpoint is open, very few Palestinians wait to go through.
A plant nursery truck is inspected. The driver argues with the soldiers and the truck moves back. It’s not clear whether the driver isn’t permitted to cross, because we see what appears to be a similar truck very carefully inspected, including the driver’s documents, the seats, engine and baggage compartment, but the truck and driver are finally allowed through after an inspection lasting a quarter of an hour. The driver passes us angrily, complaining about the MP and the soldiers.
People dribble through. The plant nurseries are closed; we don’t know whether they’ll open later in the day.
06:55 No one crossing. We leave.
07:00 Gate 109
We enter the parking lot and park opposite the crossing so we’ll be able to see what’s happening. A guard approaches, explains that it’s the employee lot (there’s no sign). We move a little. We cross the road, and although the guard comes over we’re not chased away and have a good view of what’s going on. There are few Palestinians; people on foot cross very quickly. We see a group of Palestinian women who’d gone through walking slowly along the roadside on their way to Israel.
No cars in the inspection pen. A refrigerated truck with a yellow license plate stands next to it, but continues to Israel after a brief discussion.
07:15 We continue to the Jayyus checkpoint, hoping to arrive before it closes.
A military jeep stands at the entrance to'Azzun; we have to go around it to turn to Azzun. No laborers wait at the exit.
07:30 Jayyus gate
A truck and two tractors are still waiting to go through. The soldiers carefully inspect the truck; meanwhile I speak to A.A., who says the olive harvesting continues, despite the holiday, to take advantage of the good weather; there’s still much work.
The two tractors cross quickly.
07:35 No more people are waiting; the soldiers close the gate.
07:45 Falamya gate
A family with five children, the youngest about two years old, walksalong the road from Falamiya toward the gate, loaded with tools for harvesting olives. Because of the holiday they’re all going to harvest, happy and cheerful.
The reach the gate and the revolving gate which opens and closes with the press of a button operated by the MP in the inspection building. The father picks up the youngest, the two older ones join him and the two younger children can’t decide what to do. They’re clearly very frightened; they remain with their mother on the other side of the closed revolving gate while the father enters the inspection building with the children. We all hear the terrified screams of the little boy, the mother is locked out and can’t help. The soldiers yell to the MP to open the gate for the mother also, but she doesn’t, and the screaming continues. The children who are with the mother also hold on to her fearfully. Finally the family is reunited, the little boy holds his mother, still crying, and all of them look frightened.
There is a continuous trickle of people, obviously on their way to harvest olives.
Another extended family with many children arrives on a tractor pulling a wagon. The adults get off to be inspected, leaving four little children on the tractor. The soldiers discuss whether the children must go through the inspection building but decide they don’t have to get off the tractor.
Another family arrives; an elderly couple with a donkey cart; a car and driver; a youth and old man with a donkey cart. Many more cross than on an ordinary day.
08:20 We leave
08:30 Kafr Jamal
Our friend’s grocery is open and we’re served tea and cookies in honor of the holiday. We really wanted to hear whether there had been any more problems regarding opening the interior gates, but it turned out that a few days of rain had followed our visit, when no one had harvested, and then the holiday began, so as far as he knew no one had harvested since; in any case, he hadn’t heard of any problems. We tried to understand where those interior gates, where Palestinians are locked in, are located, and to help us understand Z. took us along the road to Tulkarm, opposite the settlement of Sla’it, where we saw the holdings beyond the separation fence, below the settlement. He showed us his land, cut by the separation fence, explaining there were coils of razor wire on the other side of the fence, in which locked gates have been installed, each giving access to 3-4 Palestinian holdings. The soldiers open the gates in the morning and after the Palestinians enter their holdings lock them in, and reopen then only in the afternoon (if they remember…!). The holdings involved are located in the area between Sal’it and Kokhav Ya’ir. Two questions we didn’t ask, which I’ll try to get answered by phone tomorrow:
- What happens if someone feels ill during the day?
- Today we saw many people who went in later. How did they reach their holdings?
Once we get more specific information, I wonder whether we could send a letter of compliant.
09:20 We arrived at the Jubara checkpoint.
One car is parked outside the gate.
The inspection of cars and people, entering and leaving, proceeds rapidly. Women don’t go through the scanner. Taxis arrive, their passengers get out.
09:50 We drive along Beit Lid’s steep roads. There are many people in the streets; a festive atmosphere.
10:05 Deir Sharaf
Many cars and people in the village center.
We drive on Highway 60 to Shavei Shomron. The crossing to Jenin is open. The entrance to Kafr Naqura is open, but the road to Asira a-Shamaliyya and from there to Nablus is closed to Palestinians; it’s used only by the army.
Whenever we stop, Palestinians immediately stop also and ask whether we need help, and answer all our questions. There are many women and children in the cars, and a festive atmosphere.
Jit junction is open to traffic, only a blue police car lying in wait inside.
10:45 Eliyahu crossing (109)
There are about five cars in the inspection pen, doors and windows wide open. The cars are surrounded by people inspecting them. From the road we can’t see whether there are dogs.
We drive home. Nothing terrible happened. What’s terrible is that everyone has gotten used to this.
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.