'Anabta, Mon 4.5.09, Afternoon
We cross the Figs passage and without
stopping at Jubara go on straight to Anabta.
At Anabta checkpoint we come across a
group of soldiers in a cheerful mood that is replaced by another group
of soldiers that seem to be equally cheerful and quite pleased with
themselves. They deliberately slacken the pace of their work, handling
the passage of cars slowly even though they don't inspect them. This
creates long lines on both sides of the checkpoint.
The construction work continues. In the
area there are signs of several traffic lanes separated by curbstones
and a large square (4 meters) of curbstones, between which there are
crosswise lying metal wires. On both sides there are foundations for
14:00 – Four soldiers man the southern
checkpoint. One of them is on the phone and the other three are talking,
making jokes and once in a while they signal a car to proceed. The car
stops next to the post and the soldiers ask questions, detain the vehicle
and succeed in creating long lines. A Palestinian peddler approaches
the checkpoint. He has socks and undershirts to sell. The soldiers chum
up with him and in the meantime all the traffic stops for a few minutes.
14:15 – A young man arrives at the
checkpoint in his vehicle. He is asked to get out and open the trunk.
One of the soldiers who takes pleasure in singing gestures the guy to
14:25 – A military pick-up truck with
two women soldiers arrives and parks in front of the watch-tower. The
soldiers find time to talk to them and again the traffic stops for long
minutes. The soldier with the phone waves his hand from inside the shack
to signal the drivers to proceed and the cars pass without inspection.
The military pick-up truck that parks on the roadside occupies part
of the road, where also the soldiers stand and talk to the women soldiers,
while buses and big trucks are forced to maneuver on the narrow road
between the post, the soldiers and the pick-up truck.
14:30 – Seeing that I am taking pictures
of the truck that is trying to pass, the sergeant comes to us angrily
and tells us to stay away from the checkpoint, claiming it is a closed
military area and that our presence disrupts his work. He also threatens
to call the police.
14:35 – The two women soldiers clear
the road and take off in the pick-up truck.
14:40 – A military vehicle arrives
from the junction with hoots and cheers. The traffic stops again –
shift replacement. One of the soldiers gets out of the vehicle, looks
in our direction and asks the soldiers at the checkpoint why he doesn't
drive us out, adding that he should. The soldiers of the two shifts
hug and kiss each other, they dance and clap their hands, make jokes
and shout to each other in Arabic – fighters' comradeship.
Two soldiers of the new shift walk to
the post and one of them shouts in Arabic, "Come on guys".
From the military vehicle that starts
going back a voice is heard over the loudspeaker saying, "check
them well, well and slowly, real slowly".
14:50 – Long lines of cars both at
the entrance and at the exit from Tulkarm. The soldiers stop a car driven
by a woman whose children are in the back seat. A soldier checks her
license and shows it to the other soldier and they make jokes and joke
with the kids. The driver gets her license back. The fact that big and
loaded trucks pass through this checkpoint and their trunks aren't checked
shows that this is nothing but hassle, acting on the advice given to
them before by the soldier in the military vehicle.
The two soldiers light cigarettes and
continue to fool around, holding a cigarette in one hand and a gun in
the other and joking while sending the cars. Sometimes they stop a car,
ask to open the trunk and then also the tool box.
14:55 – we call the Humanitarian center
to report about the long car lines.