In the grocery, we watch yesterday's video. Children throwing stones, a soldier says to the grocery owner, "Do you need the children to continue throwing stones?" The owner went out of the store, closed the door, but didn't lock it. At 18:00, the soldier entered the store and threw a tear gas grenade. You can still feel the gas. The olives taste like gas.
We went to Jib. A youth tries to go through; a soldier sites behind a tall window with filthy glass. The youth puts up the green ID card and says 31. That is his number, he doesn't have a name. The tall window is like the story of the Turkish Ambassador, the youth stands in a low position. A long time passes. The youth enters the nearby room, where they also do inspection; afterward, they check his number in a notebook and finally let him through. The Border Policeofficer says, "There are procedures, and you are endangering yourselves in the red area."
In the morning, the passage is slow and at eight it is no longer worth going through, the employer won't take any more workers. A day of work is wasted.
Someone told us that, during Ramadan, he wanted to go to his sister in Rahat. He requested a permit, and they told him to come and go - he had to take the request to the Palestinian Authority who were supposed to then pass it on to the DCO. He doesn't know if the Authority took the trouble to pass on the request. In the end, he didn't get a permit. He said that he doesn't even know his sister's young children.
At Jaba there were blockages in both directions.
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
Eid-Al- Fiter- the holiday that marks the end of the Ramadan month and the anniversary of the completion of the writing of the Quran. A holiday of forgiveness, peace and fraternity. During this day it is customary to visit relatives and friends, stay at their homes, reconcile the hawks and settle disputes.
The large crowd at the checkpoint was greeted by filth and shrieking voices coming out of the PA system.
A foreign student whose visa had expired presented before the soldier an official document with an extension. The soldier who wasn't certain whether or not it was valid, told her to go to the fifth lane: "to the Muhabarat" he said.
We followed her to the lane which up until that moment we understood to be the one leading to the DCO offices. But the shout that the soldier in charge of opening the turnstile sounded, over and over again every few minutes: "Bas el-barid, wa-el-muhabarat!" removed our doubts (if indeed we had any), regarding the identity of the operators of the occupation, the bureaus that decide the fate of the Palestinians- whether for correction or for mercy, and it had also emphasized that the humanitarian hot lines or the health and co-ordination hotlines, are only but a fig leaf hiding the disgrace of the occupation.
And as for the student- she was swallowed inside the back rooms and as she had a European citizenship, it is likely that no harm will come to her.
The commander that crossed the road and ask who we were and why, explained that the checkpoint was supposed to prevent Jews from heading in the direction of Qalandiya. "That place", he said, "is known to be dangerous and there had been incidents…" and he told us that the passing month, the Ramadan, was boring because their activity was limited, but now they were supposed to get back to their routine – to patrol inside the Palestinian villages in the area and invade homes, and not for nothing, but to make arrests.
When asked why his soldiers also detain vehicles with Palestinian plates he replied that it was important to have them searched from time to time. He didn't think or assume that he would actually find anything suspicious, but just that "it's important that the Palestinian know that they are always being examined…"
In the IDF lingo this activity in called: creating a sense of persecution.
It is very hot during the last week of the Ramadan month and the streets of the villages are almost void of vehicles and people.
Habla – the gate is still shut. Two Habla inhabitants + a driver in his car are waiting to enter the village. At the other side there is a vehicle and a few people who are waiting.
The military vehicle arrives. A few moments are spent on getting organized. Those who wish to leave are sent to the checking station, the papers of those entering are checked by the military policeman near the gate.
people (6 men and one woman) are leaving the village. The plant nursery vehicle enters.
Balal, one of those who wished to enter, is checked and detained. He has a work permit for Israel, he lives at Habla, and although his entry permit is for CP 109 he wishes to enter by the Habla CP, because of the heat, the fatigue and the fast. This morning he left for Israel by the Eyal CP. The soldiers remain hardhearted, even a phone call to the CPO is of no avail and the exhausted Palestinian remains waiting. "I have an entry permit to Israel and I don't have a permit to return home" he says and points in the direction of Habla.
We try to explain to the soldiers the absurdity of the situation, ask them for some flexibility, but they remain steadfast: "We obey orders".
A tractor leaves the village and three other Palestinians enter. We notice a group of women who are detained near the gate at the way out from Habla, in the blazing sun. A Palestinian explains that they are on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Ramadan.
We leave and take Balal till beyond the Eliyahu CP and return in the direction of Alfey Menashe.
We have parcels with toys for distribution to the children of the Bedouin village Arab A-Ramadin. The joy of the children who fall upon the piles of toys is heartwarming. It is so easy to bring joy to a child's heart.
A military command car and three cars with yellow number plates pass in the village. We have no idea where they are headed to. We continue westwards on road no. 55.
We turn right at Azzun and continue on the road which leads to Tul Karem, passing under road no. 55 (separation by levels) through Jiyus, Kafr Tzur and A-Ras, in order to reach Khirbet Jubara. We have heard about complains by residents, about different matters, and are going to see what chances there are of meeting residents and hearing directly from them. At the T junction where we used to observe, instead of turning right with the road that leads to Tul Karem (under road no. 557, another separation by levels), we continued straight northwards according to the signpost that points to Jubara.
Jubara CP (753) "Life Fabric Gate" – we parked the car on the side and told the soldier who approached us that we wanted to go to Jubara. At first he said that "this isn't here" and then that the passage needed an authorization as there it is "the blue zone" while we were in the "red zone". Behind us there s a red signpost warning not to enter the A zone from the direction we came from. The soldier at the CP explains that one continues on the road and turns left (to Tulkarem) one reaches Zone A. He also explains the known entry regulations to a settlement which is situated in the Juncture Region, he has clear instructions about who is allowed to pass and what it is allowed to pass.
A vehicle arrives and while the driver enters to be checked, the passenger who is with him explains to us that there is a possibility to pass from the village to Israel on foot, on an unpaged road; and also that one has to get an authorization to take across any goods that are beyond the limited personal use. (We heard a lot about this at the time in Ras A-Tira.
Our presence makes him nervous and we are politely asked to leave(.
We returned by the same route to the village of Tzur, at the square we turned eastwards (in the direction of Kur Haja and Punduk). At the turning, before Kur, we turned to the left (northward) on the road leading to Beit Lid and which still isn't marked on the maps.
Beit Lid – we stop at the grocery to buy goods.
Anabta CP – it is quiet, there is little traffic.
Shufa – the blockade on the road turning westwards to Izbat Shufa has been removed, the blocks on both sides of the road enable to movement of vehicles on both sides of the village.
Te'enim CP – cars with Arab drivers are being meticulously checked. The car which passed before us was asked to stop on the right side beyond the CP for a throrough check. We asked to soldiers how is was possible to enter Hirbet Jabara. They directed us to the northern CP "perhaps from there". They also talked about "red Zone" and "blue Zone": they don't understand A. B and C.
"on the Israeli side", south of the CP, there are considerable digging and construction works. For what purpose?
Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim) – cars arrive from which workmen, who return home, descend. The traffic is less lively than on normal days.
We turn to road no. 444 and from there home.
A few details about Hirbet Jabara, A-Ras Kafr Tzur and the Fence:
We knew the village of Hirbet Jabara (three kilometers east of Taibe) when the dividing fence was erected in 2003 and it remained with its 350 inhabitants and most of its lands on the western side of the fence, in the juncture region. Our shifts observed the entrance to the village and to the Bank at the CP (Te'enim) and we witnessed all the changes in the area: The building of a new fence, the roads, the changes at the checkpoints/gates.
Although a short time ater the fence was erected in 2003 the state of Israel decided to change the delineation of the fence in the area and to transfer the village to its eastern side and to join it to the rest of the Bank, it still is separated from Tul Karem, its county seat and the rest of the Bank, and all the restrictions and limitations apply to it. Since the construction of the fence in this area the villages of Peraon (north of road 557) Hirbet Jabara, A-Ras and Tzur appealed a few times to the High Court of Justice against the transit arrangements and especially against the delineation of the fence (the existing one and the one proposed by the security forces and the government of Israel).
One glimpse at the map shows the noticeable deviation of the fence delineation from the green line in this area "owing to the Sal'it settlement in the regional council Shomron. It was established in 1979 as a Nahal settlement, by a Bnei Akiva group, and was made a civilian secular workers' settlement. The colonizing movement: the Herut Betar movement. The declared aim of its establishment was the creation of a buffer between Arab settlements on both sides of the Green Line" (taken from their site). Till 1996 60 families lived there and till today their number incrased to 108.
The different petitions delayed the execution of the modification of the fence's delineation, but the High Court of Justice decision (as far as I understand the last one, dating September 2009) which unified all the petitions, determined that the delineation proposed (by the Government) which isn't based on the future development plans of the two settlements, Sal'it and Zofim, is proportional and must be implemented. The new delineation is supposed to return to the east side of the fence about 2500 dunams from the lands of the villages and the village of Hirbet Jabara, but to leave on the west side 40% of its lands.
The High Court of Justice also orders the military commander, after the setting up of the new delineation, "to reexamine the location of the gates and their opening hours, in accordance with the needs of the farmers and in order to minimize the damage as much as possible". About gate 753 it was said: "There is no disagreement about the illegality of the fence fragment on which the gate is situated, which severely damages the life texture of the inhabitants of the villages adjacent to it. If this segment of the fence is dismantled, the activation of the gate fixed in it will become redundant".
Who knows what happened at Hirbet Jabara since the verdict and why, if the village still is situated in the juncture area, can't we reach it?
Translator: Charles K.
Ramadan and August don’t go well together at all…It’s hard to see holiday joy – everyone’s faint from the heat.
Southern Hebron Hills
Today we saw the occupation routine, nothing unusual, nothing happened, other than an IDF jeep we saw coming out of Area A near Dahariyya – isn’t it violating the prohibition on Israelis to enter this area, as stated on the red signs?! Are they allowed to do whatever they wish? And what are they looking for in Dahariyya?
I heard the usual complaint – justified, of course, though we’re not able to help – about an application for an entry permit to Israel that was denied, this time from a produce merchant.
A sign in the Southern Hebron Hills warning about a firing range – but only in English and Hebrew! The only people living in the area are Palestinians who speak Arabic, but there’s no text in Arabic.
A new guard post has been built for the soldiers on the roof of Beit HaMeriva.
The police abandoned their post at the other building (Beit HaMachpela) that the settlers declared they owned.
A soldier and policeman “taking it easy” on duty in Shuhada Street.
On our way back we saw laborers starting to come home through the Meitar checkpoint, leaving work early because of Ramadan. Those on foot who want to enter Israel come through the vehicle checkpoint.
Translating: Naomi Gal
Ramadan. We left at nine o’clock. The settlers’ youth are on a break, as well, and they amuse themselves riding around on wagons bridled to donkeys, and as noted by our driver M., the writings on the wagons are in Arabic. M. also showed us the checkpoint behind “Biet Hameriva” (The Contention House), which has become a fortified zone, with a soldier on the building’s roof, surrounded by barbed wire and concrete barricades. A family arrived by car to the checkpoint. A child stepped down with a green ID in his hand and headed to the building. The soldier descended from the roof, checked, and opened the barrier.
This is what we saw.
Translator: Charles K.
08:30 – 11:30
In general: The road to the checkpoint is closed to private vehicles; public transportation has priority. Many buses waited on line, picking up passengers and leaving for the Old City. A few private cars which had nevertheless obtained permits were on their way to Rachel’s Tomb.
Lanes: Apparently as a result of what was learned last week, now a fence had been erected which prevented congestion at the entrance to the “cages.” The Ramadan miracle gate was open for the women to cross. Throughout our stay the metal gate was open to people with handicaps and those who had difficulty walking.
The Red Crescent: It’s again worth mentioning the efficiency and commitment of the Red Crescent volunteers.
The Palestinian police: They seem to have learned last week’s lessons; there were many more Palestinian policemen and policewomen and more senior officers.
The Israeli forces: The soldiers, MP’s, Border Police soldiers, DCO soldiers and the Israeli police behaved honorably and considerately. A female Border Police soldier who’d raised her voice was quickly reprimanded by an officer.
Our shift: The areas where the young men had crowded together last week were blocked off. That reduced tension and prevented provocations. Someone (not us) counted about 2000 women and 1500 men crossing every half hour. They were more careful this week to prevent men younger than 40 from crossing. The great disappointment on the faces of those denied entry is difficult to see. It seems there are many more people crossing than last week, but there were no delays and crossing took no longer than 20 minutes. Older and elderly men weren’t required to go through the building this week either, but bypassed the checkpoint along with the women.
A deaf-mute youth, about 15 years old, who’d arrived alone, sat on the side surrounded by some Border Police soldiers who spoke Arabic and Palestinian policemen, who tried to find out who he was, and whether he had any problems other than his deafness. Everyone tried to help; he finally returned to Bethlehem.
UN personnel on site approached us at the beginning of our shift, asking whether we’d heard anything about the harassment of foreign journalists. We asked everyone we could, Palestinians and Israelis, whether they know anything about it but no one did. Later two female Irish journalists showed up and ferociously “attacked” Netanya, accusing us of “aiding the occupation” by our very presence. We wondered whether this incident was connected to the rumor about harassment.
Summary: We had the impression that more people crossed this week than last. The army learned lessons from the difficulties that arose last week and reorganized the crossing lanes, which greatly eased the crossing. People went through quickly, considering how many people wanted to cross.
We had to leave early for personal reasons.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
The ritual held at Qalandiya checkpoint on Ramadan Fridays is reminiscent of the one that was held during the Great War, wherein once the sun had set the battles would subside until being renew at sunrise.
At Qalandiya checkpoint, each Friday the camps stand one in front of the other on both side of the blockages, from sunrise till the hour of prayer, the Palestinians stand armed with their praying mats in front of soldier who are armed with rifles and grenades.
The rules and regulations are the same each time. Difference can be found only in the amount of people standing at the gates, the volume of the voices and the tone.
Less sentences of this sort: "Happy holiday… please… I'm sorry but…"
And more or especially of this sort: "Get out of my sight… Yallah… get lost… go home I said!"
Less: "It's fine that you are standing here… you are allowed… you can photograph it all…"
And more or especially: "Stand back… don't stand here… you are in violation of the agreement of the commanders with Watch…"
It was as though the masks had been removed and a sense of truthfulness surfaced at the areas of contact.
The general story is mirrored through the stories of individuals, those are the ones that must be documented:
The exact words of Arafat, he spoke them from the bottom of his heart:
"Today is a holiday, something spiritual. Why do they humiliate me like this?... I've been standing here for two hours, they have checked me ten times, again and again, each one of them says: 'show me your permit…. show me your permit… show me your permit… 'I'm a man of peace. I'm a peace activist. I can't take this humiliation anymore!
About the woman crossing with her two children and while she was inside the construction, sure that the road to El-Aqsa was open before her, she was detained by a soldier who noticed that the woman had "deceived the army", for her elder son was older then the permitted age (12). The mother was caught red handed and sent away in shame with her children through the revolving gendered door, the one intended for women only.
About a family that came from afar: a father, mother and their two young children, that left their home knowing everything was alright, that their acts were in accordance to the laws of the Ramadan. The father, who had yet to turn forty, had obtained a praying permit, the mother had packed all that was needed for a day out in Jerusalem, but because she was in a hurry she forgot to put her husband's ID in the bag. The young man tried appealing to the hearts of the soldiers and officers, he presented the paper that was issued by the authorities, he presented his wife and children… after having pleaded, begged and requested- the family was sent back.
The greatest victim of the day was a teenager that the soldiers dragged into the sterile zone, they place him against a concrete brick and put plastic handcuffs on his hands. Only the camera managed to stop the completion of the arrest. The camera was attached to the faces of teenager and his capturers and wasn't deterred even when the requests were replaced by orders and threats. Its stubbornness made the officers that were alerted to decide to finish the handling of the teenager inside the checkpoint.
The fragments of information that I was able to gather regarding this incident, indicate that the teenager picked up an IDF grenade that had probably fallen off one of the soldier's belt and then was witnessed raising the hand with the grenade. In a reality in which all the rights had been placed at the hands of one side alone- the ruler, while on the other side is the one ruled over, millions of people remain without rights. It's hard not to ponder about the fact that if the bearing of arms is a right, in the sense that it is legal in the model state, and a longed for ideal of most Israelis, then this right, like many others, must also be symmetrical.
At the appointed time of prayer at El Aqsa a young Imam step on an improvised stage, held a prayer before the crowd, after which the people stood in long and straight lines and replied with prayer, they raised their hands to the sky and knelt on the ground, some on praying mats and others on pieces of cartons or on random pages from a newspaper.
And in front of the soldiers with their pointing rifles, young Palestinians assembled a choir, they raised their arms and together yelled over and over again:
"In our millions we shall go to El Aqsa, even if we are killed we shall go…"
15:00 – 16:30
15:00 Shaked checkpoint
People, vehicles and stuff cross over on both sides.
Passage is swift.
The checkpoint commander tells us of their effort to allow the locals as normal lives as possible but does worn us of various clashes – He offers ample stories of aggressive behavior of some residents.
16:05 Reihan checkpoint
Workers return home, mostly from Israel, We're under the impression that due to the Ramadan there are less people going to work in Barta'a.
Passage is swift without delays or problems.
Family dressed in Holiday attire return from Jenin.
We were approaches by this gentleman whose family own the coal business on the way to the checkpoint. According to him, he received a court order stating that the plant needs to close down by Oct.24.12. They are no longer allowed to bring in new logs of wood but are entitle to keep the wood that they poses until that date.
Despite the above, trucks came over to his plant and confiscated all wood that was there.
Translation: Bracha B.A.
06:05 – A'anin Agricultural Checkpoint
Dozens of people are standing next to the gate in the center of the checkpoint. They pass by the soldiers one by one and cross without any delay. People are pleased because lately new permits have been issued for periods of three to six months, until the end of the olive harvest (which will start in three months). Many of the people passing through are young men who are pleased to have received permits of their own for the first time in their lives.
A resident of A'anin in the West Bank is married to a woman who lives in eastern Barta'a, which is in the seam zone and the couple has three children. He wishes to join and live with her. He has not been permitted to do so. He has been requesting permission to live in Barta'a for several years and has been refused. Ironically both A'anin and Barta'a are Palestinian towns and any Jewish person wishing to live in the occupied territories can come as he or she pleases and is even enticed to do so.
Shaked-Tura Checkpoint – 07:00
Here, too, people are happy with their meager lot of receiving permits. They wave them proudly – now they are permitted to move from one place to another within their own country. Is the same mind that planned all the stoplights and road signs at the checkpoint responsible for our security as well?
Several vans are waiting on the road. Cartons of eggs are practically cooking in the intense heat underneath the shed. People are crossing quickly from the West Bank to the seamline zone and back again. Yellow taxis leave for Jenin and other cars ply their way to the bridge and back for a 1-shekel fee. Even this is a meager livelihood. At this time there is no crowd net to the iron gate, but cars arrive constantly with groups of people and workers going to |Barta'a. Families are also traveling because it is Ramadan. Two elderly people on crutches are waiting near the vehicle checkpoint on the road waiting for someone to drive them to the top of the checkpoint. They are exempt from going through the terminal because of their disability – a sign that there is some light at the end of the dark tunnel of the occupation.
We left at 08:10.
Translator: Charles K.
12:15 Bezeq checkpoint. We crossed.
12:30 Highway 578 – Alon Road. The road is burning hot.
A car parked west of the road, about 200 meters north of the Gochia barrier. Five Palestinians stood or sat nearer the road, holding ID cards. Four soldiers (who appeared to be reservists) got out of a jeep parked on the shoulder of the road. One checked the IDs. A second spoke with one of the Palestinians, a third spoke on the telephone. Then they carefully inspected the car, opening everything. Two of the soldiers noticed our curiosity. We left after the IDs had been returned and the soldiers
had driven off. We exchanged farewell waves with the car that drove west on the dirt roads. They’re apparently on their way north to bypass the earthen berm and the trench to its west.
Opposite the settlement of Ro’i, in the field surrounded by a fence that had been prepared for planting, we could already see the new vineyard planted and irrigated.
12:45 Hamra checkpoint. HOT!!!
Orange/black flags. The new shed has been erected. The mobile baggage scanner is shut. Only a few people cross to the east. A car carrying laborers crosses west. A vehicle belonging to the UN World Food Program also drives west. The soldiers are busy with the lunch that’s been brought to them. No one takes any interest in us, or cares where we’re standing – which is great.
13:10 We left.
Alon Road, Tevetz junction
A colorful piece of playground equipment (ladder-tunnel-slide) stands next to the school tent. Similar equipment (made of metal), which doesn’t meet the Israeli standards for Jewish playgrounds, is also in place at the entrance to the Barta’a/Reihan checkpoint.
13:40 Tayasir checkpoint
All is quiet and deserted. The commander asks us who we are; he’s not outraged by the fact we have permission to be there, so we walked up to the inspection station. Very few cars go through. Few taxis. Today women cross without being embarrassed by someone rummaging through their handbags. IDs are checked at the position on the road (for people crossing in both directions).
A water tanker on its way to the base; water that has overflowed is visible along the road.
14:00 We left.
Rotem settlement: We drove up to the settlement on our way back. Two reasons: on the slope to its north we saw a large canopy, and along the Alon road signs were posted, invitations to T’u B’Av in Rotem.
A female soldier guarding at the settlement’s entrance came toward us quickly. She asked whom we’d come to visit, opened the gate and was very happy to talk with us. Like us, she doesn’t understand why a soldier who’d volunteered to serve in …. must guard the gate of a civilian settlement. She’s knows that people refuse to serve; a good friend of hers is a pacifist who also taught her to think differently. The female soldiers live in a house in the settlement; there are rules and set times for guard duty. According to the regulations, if we attempt to descend the slope east of the settlement she’ll carry out the “procedure for stopping a suspicious person.” We weren’t able to get to the canopy (it was fenced off). We saw it had been erected on a patch of ground that had been leveled. We’ll follow up.