'Anabta, 'Azzun, Eyal, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Qalqiliya, Sun 7.6.09, Afternoon
"The daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation" were mentioned by President Obama, three days ago in Cairo, as he spelled out for millions a world, where Palestine is the name of a national state, and values govern nations that differ widely from those extant today. Unlike his predecessors, he did not stop at speaking about "Palestinians," but uttered the decisive word: "Palestine" - the name of a country. We were there today, and it's still the "Occupied Palestine Territories."
12:20 Gate 1392-3 Habla
The four soldiers are busying themselves with preparations to close the gate which will next be open at what time, we venture to ask (although we know). "The gate will open whenever...." is the rude reply from soldiers who seem to be new and know nothing about MachsomWatch. Today, there is no tractor to clear the tracking path, and the Hummer drags a makeshift "plough" nosily behind it, kicking up the dust as another soldier manually sweeps by the far gate. The gate on the side where we stand is left open.... There's no explanation as to why.
Also no explanation here as to why there are no soldiers at the positions by the checkpoint. The parking lot, usually filled with Israeli cars (yellow license plates) is more or less empty. The local Bedouin boy, who's grown so tall in the past couple of years, tells us that "There's no checkpoint." At the checkpoint itself, five soldiers, on reserve duty, sit around under an awning and one tells us cheerfully, "It's Obama..." More practically, we learn that they've been there since 7:00, and it's been open all that time. Until when? Response is a shrug of the shoulders.
En route on 55: It's clear that flags are not flying, and that the outpost, near Qedumim seems to be quiescent. The building which was going on in the new section of Qedumim, south of the main road, seems to have ceased, so there's a half built house clearly visible from the roadway. Odd bits of bunting, orange, of course, as well as blue and white are hung at odd places.....
The new and improved checkpoint is still not working, the checkpoint, temporarily, stands where once the taxis stood, but at a narrow part of the roadway. As last week, the Israel Police are there, together with a pristine white jeep belonging to them. The first figure of authority we see at Anabta is a policeman waving down cars, nearly all the Israeli vehicles (yellow license plates). We notice immediately that the pale blue SUV which was turned back at Deir Sharaf (see report of today's date) is here. The owner talks to the policeman driver as he sits by the computer in the jeep. We hear the driver say that he is from Nazareth. His son is inside the SUV. Fifteen minutes later, father and son wave to us, on their way to Tulkarm, or beyond, and the father grins, "to the end..." Another Israeli driver argues for a long time with the policeman but seems to enjoy it all, although she gets a ticket, for what transgression we don't learn. On asking the policeman whether they are always stationed now at this checkpoints, he too grins and says, tongue in cheek that "It's on our rounds, unless we're called to deal with MachsomWatch women who ‘bother' the soldiers."
This, indeed, is what seems to happen here as a captain insists that we move further back from the temporary checkpoint. We're already twenty meters, or so, from the perfidious red sign announcing that our presence is unwelcome, but we stand our ground. At least here, the soldier can't call the police: they're already here!
Traffic moves freely, and it's sparse, in both directions.
14:10 Shaare Efraim/Irtah
Some, not many workers, women and men, returning home from work
There are few returning workers, but there is a steady stream of people, and it takes no time to go through the turnstile and past the checking booths to the path leading home. It's good that there are few people since a group of three men are unwinding spools of wire, four huge rolls, and threading them through holes in the "terminal" building, for what they cannot tell us (as they don't know who we are)!