'Anabta, 'Azzun, Deir Sharaf, Qalqiliya, Sun 10.5.09, Afternoon
No doubt about it, flags are colorful, look pretty flapping in a breeze and are helpful to identify countries. There seem to be a lot of flags in the Occupied Palestinian Territories these days, and they're not Palestinian (forbidden). One wonders if the old adage that the blue stripes of the Israeli flag actually represent the rivers Nile and Euphrates isn't true for those who still believe the boundaries of the country derive from the land promised the Jews by God!
12:05 Habla Gate 1392/3
Vehicles here are unlike vehicles at the other checkpoints. Here we have, as befits its status as "an agricultural gate," horse and cart, a palm filled pickup truck, etc. A flag bedecked tractor graces the security road, and having done part of its duty, the driver steps off his high horse (tractor) and smokes and fraternizes with the three soldiers.
12:14 -- the yellow barrier on the far side of the security road is closed, next comes the first metal gate and then, with the aid of the tractor driver, the third. On the side where we stand, merely one gate is closed by the soldiers who drive off in their Hummer, leaving the flag bedecked tractor to continue his work scraping up the dirt on the tracker's path.
On our arrival, 20 vehicles, all shapes and sizes, are in line to cross into the city beyond. By the time we arrive near the soldiers' post, that line has dissipated, leaving room and time for the soldiers to deal with MachsomWatch. "This is my checkpoint," says the commander (no rank badges showing). "You're allowed to stand here but not to take pictures." We get a five minute talking to, and by the end of these five minutes, there are three soldiers standing around three women. The fourth is off to the side, not working, so the Palestinian vehicles pass freely in both directions!
12:55 -- the soldiers return to their posts. But, moments later, a pickup truck is made to stop where we stand, a Hummer arrives with troop reinforcements, and we're told yet again where we can stand. Now there are not one but two commanders dealing with MW! Where we stand has become, according to the defenders of this checkpoint, "a closed military area." But the non-checking of Palestinian vehicles continues. The waiting line is down to three.
Azzun is open, but for how long nobody knows, the new fencing and razor wire continue apace.
On the hilltop, south and west of the large military camp on the edge of the settlement/colony, a large, clean flag blows in the breeze, and there's also a painted sign on a rock next to it, but we can't distinguish what it says. Besides the flag, a kind of cave structure with new white gravel alongside and a black tenting object. This is the kind of settlement ouotpost of which the Ministier of Defense "is not aware [his words] of settlement activity" and it's in full face of a military camp of which he is the commander in chief!
Traffic flows freely in both directions, but we can't help but notice that there is an occasional Israeli vehicle (yellow license plates) let through.
It's pleasing to note a clean, new, small white bus, with "An-Najah National University" painted on its side in black lettering, going through the checkpoint. (The bus is empty at this time)!
By the new apartheid road, leading down from Shavei Shomron to the main road, on our way back, stand two army jeeps, one blue police car and one white DCL jeep (all without flags).
The only vehicle hold up is because a military vehicle blocks the roadway as the ever developing checkpoint is improved and, as elsewhere along our route, new fencing is being planted firmly into the occupied soil of the Palestinian Authority.