ProcedureThe term for the confiscation by the army of a Palestinian family's house; the family is allocated some small space, generally a room, but is denied almost all communication with the outside world.
Palestinians who live in the `seam' area (q.v.), i.e. west of the new `separation fence' and east of the Green Line, must obtain permits from the Civil Administration enabling them to go through the checkpoints into and out of the `seam' area. In other words, they need permits to continue living in their own homes. The permits are given for a limited time only and when they expire new application must be made. They are not automatically given to everyone who meets the necessary criteria and even those who have valid permits (q.v. tasrich – passage permit) can find themselves detained at the checkpoints from time to time. In legal terms their personal status – i.e. their citizenship, family status, claim to ownership of land etc. – is by no means clear-cut. Within this category of person are also included the spouses of Israeli citizens – they hold Palestinian ID cards yet are living in Israel. As we have already noted, the family reunification scheme has been suspended in the wake of deliberately slanted bureaucratic problems and, most recently, by a racist law passed by the Knesset.
The Hebrew acronym is shabahim, literally translated as `persons staying illegally'. People with Palestinian ID cards staying in Israel without having the proper permits. They are the victims of the arbitrary policies governing the issuing of permits and of the total suspension of the family reunification schemes. When an `illegal' is caught, he is required to complete and sign a lengthy personal questionnaire, all in Hebrew, in which he will be asked a great many detailed questions about his stay in Israel including, for example, the names of those who employed him and where he stayed overnight, etc. On a separate page, he will be asked to sign an undertaking not to repeat his `offence' and must also post a guarantee of several thousand shekels. Getting caught a second time will land the `illegal' in jail.In Abu-Dis, the Military Police turn a blind eye to those slipping through from the Palestinian side of the `separation wall' into Jerusalem, but they wait in ambush to catch the `illegals' on their way home again.
These, according to the soldiers, constitute the permanent hassle facing them at the checkpoints, and within the term are included journalists, photographers, Arab Knesset members, demonstrators, members of human rights organizations, and especially the women of MachsomWatch. In short, a leftie is anyone who wants to see and know about what's going on. `The lefties have destroyed the army!' proclaimed a sign that for months on end decorated the Huwwara checkpoint.
The use of the third person plural is always coupled with categorical statements: “They are all liars”; “They are all terrorists”. This is the justification for the army's tough stance vis-ֹ-vis the Palestinians. “They know” (and nevertheless they carry on doing whatever it is that is under discussion). This is the accepted formula used to explain particularly harsh behaviour by the army as, for example, the imposition of the `Stop all Life' order (q.v.), the destruction of homes, the confiscation of taxis, detention at checkpoints, etc. “They know” is the explanation offered for why there are no adequate public notices or announcements of the restrictions and prohibitions that change from day to day.
This is the term that the soldiers habitually use to describe the Palestinians. When one takes a mass of people, all in a hurry, all edgy and nervous, and has them walk towards the checking stations between concrete barriers or some other form of fencing, when they must then go through narrow, cramped turnstiles known, so cutely, in Hebrew as carousels q.v. which all too often become stalled with frightened people inside, and one then behaves very crudely towards them, detains them for hours on end in the heat or the cold and the rain, what, after all that, does one say of them? One dismisses them with scorn: “They're just like animals!” Just for the sake of comparison, take a look at the behaviour of the average Israeli driver when he finds that his parking spot has been usurped…
Unlike the word `Palestinians', which is used in `normal' army language when security is under discussion, the term `Arabs' occurs in what one might speak of as the `anthropological' context also noted here, for example, in reference to the use of `They' (q.v.). Thus we find the following: “The Arabs have a different conception of time…” “Arabs don't feel the heat.” “It's well known that it's not proper for Arab men to carry babies in their arms, so no Arab father will ever be seen holding his baby in his arms”. See also under `Animals'.
As the soldiers see it, a baby must provide a Palestinian with a wonderful cover-up for a Kalashnikov: “What have you got there, a baby or a Kalashnikov?” as one soldier is recorded as having said to an obviously pregnant woman.
Services It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of (mainly) young men whose names appear on GSS lists and who thus cannot be granted a magnetic card – the absolutely essential, though not necessarily sufficient, condition for receiving a permit to move around the territories, and in and out of Israel or the `seam area' (q.v.). On the face of it, this GSS list – from which death alone is usually the only release – is meant to filter out those regarded as dangerous. But in fact, any Palestinian with the means to appeal to Israel's High Court will generally find that even before his appeal is heard his name will be removed from the list, which surely indicates that there was no reason whatsoever for it to have been there from the outset.
A camera at a checkpoint is like a red rag to a bull. For over the soldiers there always looms the long shadow of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Since the camera can record violations of human rights, hence any photographic record is potentially threatening. Soldiers will usually try to justify their objections to photography by saying that the checkpoint is a `closed military area' and thus `secret' and that photography is therefore forbidden there. This is a patently absurd claim since thousands of Palestinians go through this `secret' place daily, sometimes – to their regret – even twice daily, and see everything that goes on there.
The Hebrew term for the turnstiles harks back to the children's playground… Palestinians negotiating the checkpoints must walk 'wahad, wahad' (one at a time) through the turnstile on their way to the other side. The turnstile's revolutions are remotely controlled by a soldier standing some ten metres away. In some checkpoints there are two turnstiles to be negotiated one after the other. Use of the turnstiles facilitates the limiting of contact between the soldiers and the `potentially hostile' population. The width of each wing of the turnstile is less than 60 centimetres (the turnstiles were specially made for the Palestinian population). This should be compared with the 80 centimetres and more that is the width of similar turnstiles in the State of Israel. Completely omitted from consideration here is the fact that people going through the checkpoints are often encumbered by suitcases and large packages, and some of them are stout, or are mothers carrying small children in their arms. The turnstiles frequently get stuck with people caught inside them. In such cases, the burning desire to get out of the checkpoint as fast as possible creates enormous pressure and crowding, tempers flare and patience quickly gets exhausted so that men and women, the elderly, babes in arms, children and the crippled are all crushed up against the metal bars and the turnstile becomes a cruel trap (q.v. 'animals').
Closure An all-encompassing prohibition on any movement from the territories into Israel. Closures are brought into operation at any time when there is any suspicion of some security danger of any sort: warning of terror activities, Jewish festivals and holidays, Moslem festivals and other special occasions as for example the death of Yasser Arafat. If one takes note of what the media have to say, then the closure ends far earlier than it does in reality at the checkpoints. “What do I care if that's where you live ? You're not going through, don't you understand. There's a closure on today. I don't know and I don't care until what time” – these were the words of a soldier talking to a Palestinian labourer who wanted to get to his home in the `seam area' after a day's work in the West Bank.