Dogs, dog trainer
Translator: Charles K.
A shift during which we had various contacts with the army and representatives of security companies working for the Ministry of Defense.
The army’s clarification regarding the legality of commerce at the Habla plant nurseries.
A suggestion: During our shifts we should make lists of lands in the seam zone that aren’t being cultivated because the owners have trouble accessing them.
Car owners from Hars are transported from the junction to their workplaces in the Barkan industrial zone because there aren’t enough parking spaces there.
13:30 Habla checkpoint
A horse harnessed to an empty cart waits for its owner to return from document inspection. He opens the large gate and takes the cart through.
A group of army personnel on the other side of the checkpoint. Three civilian Israeli cars and two military vehicles park next to the security road.
Some officers approach us a few minutes later. Col. Ofer H. introduces himself as the commander responsible for the entire seam zone. He’s accompanied by a colonel – a unit commander – and a captain responsible for the compound who’s very familiar with the area. Col. Ofer wants to know whether we’re aware of the reason for the Habla checkpoint (an agricultural gate).
After we reply, he explains that the purpose of the gate is to enable Palestinian farmers on the West Bank to cultivate their lands that remained on the other side of the fence or to work in their plant nurseries: butthe sale of plants to Israelis by the nurseries is illegal, because they’re in fact importing merchandise to Israel. Passage of goods is permitted only at designated crossings – the nearest being Efrayim gate. It’s true that sales are on a retail basis but (he points to the rows of olive trees), the merchandise comes through the checkpoint in wholesale quantities. The army allows it because the State doesn’t want to harm the Palestinians’ livelihood; we should be proud of the army. When we ask why people returning home from work aren’t allowed to bring with them shirts they’d received or small household goods they’d found discarded, he replies infuriatingly that often those clothes have been stolen, along with the clothesline and clothespins.
We asked the purpose of his visit; he said that every few months they visit every location in the seam zone to see what the land situation is. He’s the one who testifies in court to contradict the Palestinians’ claims they’re not able to work their land because access is difficult. He declares he doesn’t depend on others’ reports but goes to see for himself and tries to identify reputed uncultivated land in the seam zone (lands made inaccessible elsewhere in the West Bank aren’t his responsibility). He tells us he respects us, that we’re doing difficult work.
With regard to the request by residents of Khirbet Asla that the gate also be opened in the middle of the day, the captain who’s in charge claims that the farmers, in the presence of the head of the village, preferred, (when they had to choose) that it be opened twice a day for half an hour rather than three times a day for fifteen minutes. Everything’s agreed and based on the farmers’ requests. With respect to the gate’s location, which makes it impossible for some of the farmers to reach their land with agricultural equipment or vehicles, he replied that they have to access their lands via the Thult gate. It was neither the time nor place to get into a long discussion about it. We should ask again in the villages.
Had we mentioned the unconscionable requirement that farmers must coordinate with the army access to their own land because the state decided to erect a fence , we would have been treated to a lecture about security.
The two red minibuses with pupils go through. Soldiers get on to inspect and Col. Ofer continues lecturing us and his officers about the importance of maintaining the security of Israel’s inhabitants and about how wonderful, powerful and moral the army is. He gave us his business card!
We drove through ‘Arab a-Ramadin. The children had all gone into their “homes” and the “streets” were deserted. The school is still standing; another room has been added. Earthworks are underway in the village center; a broad area has been prepared – for construction?
14:15 Eliyahu gate
We parked in the lot. To cross the road we proceeded on foot through the “security area” and were amazed by the spectacular landscaping in the strip dividing it from the road. The seasonal flowers under drip irrigation are in full bloom. The drainage channels are elaborately decorated in a Gaudian style (I just returned from Barcelona) with broken pieces of colorful tiles. We wanted to photograph. A security man appeared immediately declaring that we’re in a security installation to which entry is forbidden. Two additional security men arrived, allowed us (this once) to photograph the flowers and demanded we move to the bus stop across the road. They showed us that no people waited on line. To the right we noticed five dog cages. Four cars with Palestinian license plates and one with Israeli plates were being inspected on the other side. A security man arrived with two German shepherds; the sight was shocking, particularly for someone seeing it for the first time who didn’t know such things existed.
On the way to Azzun we drove through Izbet Tabib, the tent and the remains of the protest against the demolition order for the school are still visible, and through H'irbet Asla, the village discussed previously with the army.
Two of Z’s sons were at his shop. We unloaded merchandise and acceded to his request to come home and meet his wife. Apparently the recent tests brought results, but he won’t be able to keep the appointment he has in Ichilov because he submitted the request to (re)enter Israel only one week in advance instead of two. His children (the little one is sick) again enchanted us. The covered porch at the entrance to the apartment has become a second-hand clothing store which Suhad runs.
From Azzun we drove back east on Highway 5. After driving through Al Funduq briefly to explain the problems of the village most of which is in Area C instead of Area B we returned to the junction and turned south on Highway 5066 that leads to Ariel via Emanuel.
We stopped at Hars to solve the mystery of the many cars parked at the village entrance. Most appeared in working order. The explanation: the cars belong to people who work in the Barkan industrial zone. They park where there’s room; their employers pick them up.
16:30 Azzun Atma
The crossing went quickly at the Shomron gate; no cars were detained.
There was no line at the Azzun Atma checkpoint. Few Palestinians arrived, mostly groups of 4-5 getting out of Israeli cars, a few on foot from the other side of the road carrying small marble panels. They went through quickly.
We waitedin vain for a Palestinian we’d arranged to meet regarding fines, he didn't show up, had to work late. It’s not clear why it can’t be done In a Palestinian post office, but that seems to be the procedure (meanwhile it turned out that if we give him the paperwork he can take care of it himself). We had a lively discussing with the soldiers who were interested in us. I. asked whether there was a bathroom there; a pleasant soldier opened the door to their “living quarters.” We were astounded to see the soldiers’ living conditions (in harsh contrast with the luxurious installations of the Security Company at Eliyahu Gate): the control tower has 2 narrow benches, one on top of the other, serving as beds, one filthy chemical toilet, a large water tank for washing.
It was sad and painful to see the effects of the occupation: the humiliating gate limiting the conquered Palestinians on the one hand, the occupying soldiers’ denigrating, inhumane living conditions on the other.
Translator: Charles K.
Everything’s quiet, normal, disheartening as always.
Soldiers at every crossroads; they’re not stopping or delaying anyone (while we were there), but they’re present, protecting the settlers - beginning with guarding Menachem Livni’s vineyard.
When we arrived they turned their backs and went down the vineyard’s slope.
We were glad to see that the barrier between his vineyard and the entrance to Bani Na’im had been removed and that vehicles could drive there again.
The army is at Kvasim junction.
In Hebron the Shimshon brigade soldiers are, as usual, in their usual places, but there are also additional soldiers on the roofs of the abandoned wholesale market, opposite Gross plaza.
A dog handler from the Oketz unit, with a muzzled dog, is at the Tarpa”t checkpoint. “A Belgian shepherd,” she says. Why is she there? What does the dog know how to do?
She answers vaguely, avoiding our questions. Another soldier who answers us politely is called over by his friend who asks him not to talk to us. Then someone arrived in a pickup truck and picked her up.
The last few days have been quiet there…
We drove to the Zayit crossing. Two soldiers, without a vehicle, at the Beit Anun junction. With no backup. Why? Their presence there is more dangerous for them than for passersby.
Occupation, and also stupidity? How exasperating.
Translator: Charles K.
Photos from the archives:
1. The remnants of an encampment belonging to a family with five children that the IDF demolished, October, 2012.
2. An earthen berm blocking Jordan Valley Bedouin from moving westward.
3. The Gochia checkpoint – a locked iron gate in the middle of nowhere blocking a dirt road used by Jordan Valley Bedouin.
Tomorrow (4.3.13) the army will conduct maneuvers in the Hamam el-Malih area. All the residents were ordered to evacuate their encampments for 24 hours with their children, the elderly and their flocks. In other words – they were sent to spend the night outdoors. It’s very cold in the Jordan Valley during this time of year. This is a new phenomenon in recent months in the northern Jordan Valley. It happened to the residents of Hamam el-Malih about a month ago; tomorrow will be the second time.
Only 3% of the complaints submitted by Palestinians to the police eventually come to court. The remaining 97% of the cases are closed, even when there is incontrovertible evidence. Thus the State’s Attorney collaborates with the police, backing the racist policies as part of what’s known as “justice for all” and “equality before the law.” That’s what we learned from “Yesh Din,” which has been following up on the vicious beating last year of M., a member of the D family, last year by D., the military security coordinator of the Rotam settlement.
11:15 Za’tara checkpoint – Tapuach junction
Two loaded trucks detained in the plaza. Another commercial vehicle has been detained and is being checked by a dog. ID cards are taken for inspection. The driver of the commercial vehicle has (apparently) been sent for interrogation by the Shabak on the other side of the white wall at the northwest side of the plaza. An additional car was detained while we were there.
We’ve already seen delays and interrogations of young men at this junction a few times, and heard from those interrogated that the Shabak tried to recruit them.
We gave a ride to a hitchhiker who was born in the Gitit settlement (established in 1975). He said his parents, secular people from Tel Aviv, were sent by state institutions to settle there, were given a house and land at no cost, along with all they needed to farm. He doesn’t view himself as a settler, and it’s clear to him that the Jordan Valley must remain part of Israel forever, for security reasons. We asked about the price of water: NIS 6 /cubic meter for household use, NIS 2 for agriculture. For comparison: K., the Bedouin, pays NIS 20 per cubic meter for water which he gets from water tankers, not via pipes. In Israel we pay more than NIS 9 per cubic meter for household use.
The fields of Gitit settlement, which are worked by two Israelis (one from Tel Aviv and one from Tayibeh) are covered with plastic sheeting. A spectacular sight.
12:30 Hamra checkpoint
A settler from Hamra followed us to the checkpoint, photographed us from every angle and cursed us rudely. Two reservists from the checkpoint came over to see what the trouble was and he disappeared.
13:00 Tayasir checkpoint
Reservists here as well. Very sparse traffic.
The K. family
The four families from Hama el-Malih whose encampments were demolished last month are still living out in the open or in improvised sheds far from their previous place of residence.
About a year ago M., one of the family members, was terribly beaten by D., the Rotem settlement’s military security coordinator, and was hospitalized for two days. A complaint was submitted to the police, with the help of Yesh Din. It now transpired that the police closed the case even though there were witnesses to the beating.
A few months later that same military security coordinator shot and killed three of K’s cows and buried them. They called the police, which found the slaughtered cows. There were witnesses to this incident as well, and this case was also closed.
Yesh Din told us that’s what usually happens, that only 3% of the complaints submitted by Palestinians to the Israeli police reach the courts. The police and the State’s Attorney collaborate to ignore Palestinian complaints against Jews. Racism has penetrated every organ of the Israeli regime. Jurists are also part of the rot. Yesh Din plans to appeal the closing of the case involving the beating. It will take two years for the appeal to come before a judge.
We gave a ride to a laborer who’d finished working for the day in the Ro’i settlement. He earns NIS 85 for an 8-hour day (about half of the Israeli minimum wage), with no benefits. NIS 10 goes for transportation. Since the residents of the settlements are Israeli citizens, Israeli labor laws apply to them, including minimum wage laws, but who’ll enforce them? And so the Israbluff about the only democracy in the Middle East continues. It’s not surprising that the settlers hold on to what they’ve got – where else could they get such wonderful conditions? Even workers from Thailand are paid more.
16:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
No soldiers here at this hour either.
13:55 Habla gate. As the soldiers begin to close the gates a young Palestinian man arrives. They start arguing with him, but when they see us looking at the clock and that there are still three minutes left to closing time they tell him OK, yallah, hurry up. They let him through and immediately closed the gate.
We left and drove via Azzun. Two jeeps and a Hummer stood at the entrance. The time was 14:05.
We continued to Huwwara via Jit junction. A flying checkpoint had stopped some vehicles at 14:20. Huwwara was empty. From there we drove to Za’tara. The checkpoint was manned; they were conducting inspections. Vehicles were detained on the roadside. Soldiers used dogs to inspect their interiors.
15:10 We continued to Kafr Yasuf. At 3 in the morning on February 17 settlers from Tapuach entered the village and wrote “Price Tag – Rock-throwing terrorists.” Soldiers came that night as well, damaged tires of cars parked next to homes, entered some homes, upended their contents, searched using dogs and arrested a youth named Tha’ar Nai’m Muhammad Khalil Abid. Police from the Ariel police station arrived the next day, the 18th, together with people from the DCO and the army, interrogated a few people and left. When we left the village we saw at the entrance a civilian car in which four soldiers sat.
We arrived at Azzun Atma at 16:15. There wasn’t a long line of laborers. We waited for about half an hour and left.
Zahaiah, who runs the Zeita women’s club, told Huda, who runs the women’s club in Aqraba about our colleagues’ work in Zeita, and she asked to meet to see whether similar activities could be carried out in the Aqraba club. So we drove to Aqraba.
14:45 Two soldiers and two dog handlers inspect vehicles.
We turned left up the hill about four km. east of Za’tara on a road that re-opened about two months ago after having been closed for years, forcing the residents to make a long detour to get home.
15:00 We reached Aqraba after a short trip past the lovely almond trees blossoming by the roadside. The village is large – almost a town – with about 10,000 residents. It even has a few 3-4 story buildings, unusual for villages in the area. We went to the home of Huda and her husband, Isar. She speaks only Arabic; Isar, like most of the men on the West Bank, speaks both Hebrew and English. So, over cups of sweet sage tea and black coffee, we conducted two parallel conversations with Huda and with Isar.
We introduced ourselves and described Machsom Watch’s activities; Ouda described the women’s club. It’s a large, well-organized club that has been conducting activities for years. A Norwegian organization helps them financially and with training. During the intifada, when they had no other means of support, they learned to be autarchic. The women raised excellent vegetables of various types and strains, established beehives, etc. A mobile clinic from Jerusalem’s Al Muqasid hospital also visits to offer mammograms and other routine tests. Female students from Al Najah University help run the club; it’s open from morning to evening, to all women in the village. Huda learned about Machsom Watch’s work in Zeita from that club’s coordinator; she wants to expand her own activities.
At the same time, Isar talked about himself and about Aqraba. He’s a schoolteacher in Qabalan, a nearby village. He’s been a member of the village council for about two months. Before 1967, most of the villagers made their living from farming. They had 147,000 dunums of land that stretched to the Jordan Valley. They have only 40,000 left. More than 100,000 dunums were expropriated for settlements like Gitit and Fatzael. Today most residents work in the settlements established on their lands. Some work in Israel. Occasionally they’re attacked by settlers from Itamar.
We agreed to see who’s willing to help, and Huda will find out what the women would be interested in.
The village will hold a large bazaar on March 31, to commemorate Lands Day. Residents of all the villages in the Nablus sub-district will display their wares – food, homegrown products, handicrafts. We’re all invited.
16:40 A relatively large number of soldiers at the Za’tara junction, particularly dog handlers, their dogs sniffing vehicles’ interiors.
Translator: Hanna K.
The aim of the tour was to demonstrate to the guests the infringement on the freedom of movement of the Palestinians, and thus to illustrate the activity of MachsomWatch.We arrived at the checkpoints at an hour when the number of Palestinians forced to pass through them was low. The winding separation fence and the gates installed in it, the Palestinian enclaves constricted between the bends or, alternately, the deployment of the settlements on hills and summit above the Palestinian villages are revealed when driving through the territories. But those who don't know the place, whether Israeli or not, cannot understand, without verbal interpretation of the things they see, the deep penetration of the occupation into the area.
09:00 – We began at the Azzun Atma CP on the road leading to the Elkana and Sha'arey Tikva settlements. As mentioned above very few people pass here. We were watching the CP when one of the soldiers claimed that this was a 'military zone'.
So how come the civilians pass here?" Nora asked. 'Yes, this is complicated' the soldier agreed and went away.
We left a few moments later anddrove in the direction of Elkana in order to see the house of Hany Amar, confined between fences, joined to the settlement. We went back to road no. 5 in order to reach the same point almost, as the separation obstruction blocks the road which was once a central traffic artery, and prevents free passage, from the direction of the village of Mes'ha where Hany Amar is resident.
We drove on the winding by-passing road, which also passes by the entrance to the industrial area of Barkan, where, judging by the number plates of the cars parked outside it, many workers in the industrial area are Palestinians, 'for the glory of economic independence' of Israel; we continued through what once was the Karwat Bany Husan CP. On roads on which mainly Palestinians travel the pitfalls are many and there are no margins; we arrived at the end of Mes'ha.
The guests watched the concrete wall which was put up so that it would block from the Amar family the sunlight, but not for the residents of Elkana settlement;They watched the gate which only the Amar family is authorized to enter and leave by; The guests couldn't, of course, believe their eyes and were absolutely amazed when they grasped that the distance from the 'state of Hani Abu Amar' to the Azzunt Atma CP in a straight line is very short. But there is no Palestinian who is allowed to walk on that way.
From there we returned, on the same way we came, to road no. 5 and went to the Za'tara CP. We pointed to the metal arms which, when the so army wishes, they block by them the passage from villages such as Zeita, to the main road.
11:10 Za'tara – on the parking lot the are dogs and women-soldier dog trainers. Palestinian cars travelling from north to south are being checked. When we passed there were three cars in the queue.
12:00 Huwwara CP -the buildings are abandoned, including the 'women's checking cubicle' (the signpost is still there), The fences surrounding them testify to the hundreds and thousands of people who were forced to stand in queue in order to be able to leave Nablus. Today the cars pass without being stopped or checked.
Our guests saw all this, and as they ate falafel and shuarma on the day before at Tel Aviv, they were given the opportunity to learn about the price gaps between Tel Aviv and Huwwara.
When we passed Kedumim settlement we showed them the places where the settlers try to take over the plots; we told them in short the story of the village of Izbat Tabib and the fact that its residents are refugee from the area of today's Ra'anana.
On the way back we passed the Eliyahu passage CP, and there we underwent the checking of ID cards and passports.
Translating: Ruth Fleishma
People said that four army busses transported those who had been evicted from Bab-El-Shams, approximately a hundred and fifty people. Those who had been evicted stayed at the site and held a protest for two hours. The Israeli authorities defined the eviction as "non-violent". The results of this non-violence can be seen in following link:
By the square that stood bare under the pleasant winter sun I was invited to join a group of young people. They talked about Ahmed who had been arrested ten days previously and had yet to return: "They just take the ones that are easy to catch and not those that actually throw stones", they talked about how hard it was to make a living, about the idleness that had been forced on them, about the despair, they also spoke of Igal from Beit-El who is responsible for the confiscation of the property of stand owners who don't have a business license (the area is part of the jurisdiction of the municipality of Jerusalem), of arrests, of interrogations and prison: "Do you know room number twenty at the Russian Compound?- it’s the worst", said a young man who talked about an interrogation that went on for two weeks in that awful room, where they tied him to the chair with his hands and legs cuffed and his eyes veiled, and when he asked to see a doctor for the pain he was in, they said they would agree only if he confessed to shooting at the checkpoint. A witness that had been convicted and was already serving a sentence of six years was brought in to incriminate him. And now, a year after he had finished doing his time, he has yet to restore his life.
A New Post Across from the Entrance to Ar-Ram.
Three soldiers at the site said that their job was to defend the entrance to the base Rama (after a rifle had been taken from the guard's post) and shoot at those throwing stones on military vehicles.
And so, a wall defends a wall, a post guards a post and shielded military vehicles need human guards armed with rifles and grenades.
Two trainers and a dog were practicing on Palestinian vehicles.
The soldiers crossed the road and said it was alright by them if I took photos as long as I didn't take one of their faces.
But I won't make any settlements with the army. I remained on the other side of the road. Far away but free.
From there I saw the two trainers signaling the soldiers which of the vehicles to stop, I saw the passengers being taken out, their IDs taken as they were told to stand back, then the dog was led to the car, it walked around it, sniffed, from time to time it jumped and placed it's paws on the cars, at times it found what had been planted for it, and at the end of the round the trainer rewarded the dog with signs of affection and put it back in the unit vehicle- until the next car arrived.
11:10 We stop at the closed checkpoint next to Alfey Menashe to give our guest a brief explanation. Back to Highway 5 and then north.
11:45 We stop in Jayyous to buy olive oil from N. Next to the grocery we talk with a young man who has an Israeli work permit. He says that yesterday he arrived at the Azzun Atma checkpoint at 05:00, as he does every day, and went through only at 06:30. He was one of 25 people detained for interrogation by the Shabak. Their IDs were taken; after about an hour and a half they were asked a few questions and released. The usual mistreatment. He thinks that the speed at which you go through the checkpoint depends on the mood of the soldiers stationed there.
Eliyahu checkpoint– People go through quickly. No delays.
12:15 Kufr Jimal – We stop at the grocery and talk with Dr. Farid, who went to medical school in Grenada and worked in Saudi Arabia for 18 years before returning to the village. He doesn’t discuss politics because it’s hard for him to express himself in English, but says that every problem has a solution. You just have to want to find it. All his friends in the village want peace, to live in an independent country alongside Israel. Since they’re weak, and Israel is strong, they need the world’s help. Our physician guest is moved by the meeting with Dr. Farid.
13:00 Eliyahu checkpoint – We go through flying our flag and are stopped. Our IDs are checked; our guest is asked to get out to be inspected in the office. We wait on the side for Rita and I take out my camera to photograph the dog and dog handler inspecting a pickup truck. A security man arrives immediately and warns me. Though I managed to take a picture it’s not any good and I didn’t dare continue to photograph.
After about ten minutes Rita is released. She reports the interrogation was polite; she told them only that she joined women from Machsom Watch on their circuit. She didn’t tell them why she had come to Israel.
13:15 Habla – The gate is open. No lines. Cars, pickup trucks from the plant nurseries and the school bus come through. Crossing goes quickly.