'Azzun 'Atma, Wed 20.5.09, Morning
What’s visible and invisible under occupation and at the checkpoints…
07:00 About 20 workers wait on the road for their employers from the settlements of Sha’arei Tikwa and others. They’re building the buildings that are expanding the settlements.
The occupation and its absurdities – in order to live today the Palestinians are forced to make their living by building the houses in the localities that will dispossess them from their lands in the future. Is that what’s meant by “sawing off the branch you’re sitting on…”?
But have they any choice? There are hardly any construction jobs on the West Bank, or at least any which provide a reasonable wage, because the Palestinian authority collaborates with Israel and doesn’t build buildings in its territory, because it doesn’t dare defy the Israeli regime and undertake construction. Such construction, were it to occur, would be in violation of Israeli occupation law, but it would be in accord with the demands of natural justice that require expansion of Palestinian localities in line with the needs of the local population which is growing and expanding naturally.
The apartheid road which we cross is open only to Israeli cars traveling at very high speed. Once we drove here from Palestinian localities which were within spitting distance – Zawwiya and others. Today the road is primarily for residents of the settlements who travel each morning to their jobs in central Israel. The Palestinians who have to reach their lands on the seamline must make a big detour of at least 20 km. through Bidya, Beit Amin, until they go down to Azzun Atma, enter the village and go to the agricultural gate which is called “Bir Sheli”. Only those with agricultural permits, of course…
Two female soldiers at the checkpoint let the lucky workers with permits go through quickly. Today, according to the Palestinians, “passage is good.” That’s how it is when you get used to the occupation – in only two months the checkpoint has become part of their lives. 3 children of middle-school age and a girl and her sister wait with books to enter the village to get to classes that begin at 08:00. The female soldiers don’t ask the children for IDs. Apparently they know them already. And anyway, why ask children for IDs on other days? Another one of the wonders of the occupation.
The soldiers suggest we enter the village, we do so and see no one nearby. Only a kiosk owner who wants to make a living from the workers going through the gate. He says that it’s hard to do so, almost no one goes through; he says that his son was arrested ten days ago for forging a permit. The trial is today. Neither he nor any other family member will attend – another sad aspect of the occupation.
He also says that the fence will apparently be removed and another will be built instead – one that will include the road and the isolated houses and part of the lands on the seamline, including the well that provides water to the lands. A separate road to the settlements will be built there, and some of the lands will be transferred to Oranit. We decided to check with the lawyer from Tira who represents the village to find out what the plans are exactly.