'Azzun, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Qalqiliya, Sun 12.4.09, Afternoon
The hills are alive with the color of spring flowers, the pinks now joined by yellow and white daisies and picture perfect, bright red Monet like poppies, spread beneath a grove of olives near Jit Junction. But the hills and the valleys of the OPT are also alive with the sound of occupation.
11:55 Habla Gate 1393
An agricultural gate beautifully personified by the presence of a flock of sheep, making its way across the still open gates, followed by one truck bearing young palm trees and another going in the other direction, into Habla, carrying a load of boxed fruit and vegetables. The bucolic nature of the scene is disturbed by the soldier beginning to poke in and around the boxes.
A pedestrian from Habla doesn't go straight across the security road and the open gates, but makes his way to the side, through an open yellow metal gate, proceeds through a single turnstile and goes to the far side of a house: we can see no more. What on earth is the point of a turnstile in the middle of nowhere, where there are hardly any pedestrians a this hour?
A long line of vehicles from Qalqiliya. As we arrive, no line in the opposite direction, but our presence soon changes that. We're told by two soldiers, only one of whom is the commander, "What's the difference if I give you my name?" So, as is usual, no name, but less usual, no initial, makes its way into our report. "You are not allowed to stand there... it's a military area.... we get our orders from on high.... even if it's your right, I don't care, it's a military area, and I'm in charge.... helping the Arabs just takes away from what we're supposed to be doing." Of course, all this while the line into Qalqiliya, grows and grows. It's a stand off, and we're making things worse, not better.
From afar, we already see a Hummer standing near the entrance way to the town. What we can't see until we pull up alongside is that the earth mound has been "breached," and that there's a small white car stuck in the middle of what is a newly opened pathway through the barricade. Two young men stand by the car.
The soldiers here, reservists, are willing to talk. They've just been sent here, called by the army's lookout tower on the hillside above the town. From the lookout tower, it was clear that the Palestinians had broken through the "wall" only about an hour ago. The two soldiers wait for "reinforcements" or, rather, equipment that will mend the breach and enclose the town of 15,000 people once more. The two young men will be punished. "They know they're not supposed to go through here." The two soldiers have no idea how the earth mound was breached. They are just following orders.
There is closure (meaning no Palestinian workers can get into Israel to earn their living for the whole week of the Passover holiday), but an Israeli pickup truck stands near the entrance of the terminal. The reason is clear. There are improvements or repairs underway.
All over the OPT, the checkpoints are alive with the work of Occupation.