'Anabta, Deir Sharaf, Jubara (Kafriat), Sun 16.8.09, Afternoon
Only a few days remain before Ramadan, a month full of blessings and rewards for Muslims. To prepare to reap the fruits of Ramadan one can well imagine the Occupier going ahead to ensure that life for Palestinians is the exact opposite of charity, patience and mercy. In fact, already this week, we saw evidence of closed, as opposed to open minds, and a pointer that the month ahead will be a long and difficult one in the OPT .
14:40 Deir Sharaf
It's the end of a month of grace, and the beginnings of long lines. Nobody can cross the checkpoint, other than Palestinians since Palestinian Israelis who've enjoyed shopping and eating in Nablus for the past month are excluded. The end of "freedom" to shop and to visit family (many of whom are in Balata refugee camp). Now, it's back to "normal" for the IDF, and the many soldiers, six to eight, at the checkpoint, don't care: "That's the rule today, it wasn't like that yesterday, I don't' know what will be tomorrow." Since many Palestinian Israelis continue to make their journey towards Nablus, and don't yet know the new "rules" there are lines as private cars, trucks, and taxis are made to turn in the middle of the checkpoint.
According to Palestinian friends, last night, there was a big "party" in the centre of Nablus, celebrating the month long shopping festival. We noted that the makeshift parking lot at the "barrel" works is full of cars with yellow license plates (Israeli cars whose owners have made their way to the center of the city by taxi).
No line, no waiting vehicles
We make a detour to visit this settlement on the north side of the arpartheid road leading to Jubara. Plenty of residential buildings are half started, a large military base at the entrance to the settlement and a peaceful Palestinian village, complete with man with white "Keffieh" on a white donkey, wandering down the steep unpaved slope - such a contrast from the pseudo modern settlement a stone's throw away. As we leave, the entry way is barred, and we have to confront two religious private security guards who want to ensure that we are "not Arab....."
Once again a large complement of soldiers here. One saunters over to demand IDs, looks in the trunk, and peering in the back seat, spies a crate of 30 eggs. "You can't pass with eggs." A new security ruling? We pull over, and the commander indicates that the eggs are a problem. After all, we may "wish to sell them." Selling is now a concern of the country's security forces! But they are willing to open the gate leading up to the village.
A soldier is sent to do so, clearly, most unwilling to do anything, he arrives at the agate, stands with his back to us, takes a phone call, and we wait. Finally he unlocks the gate, as slowly as can be, and we're through. We should report here that on our way back, it is again he who has to unlock the gate for our exit, but, again, he does so as slowly as possible He next demands to see the back of the car, the trunk, and then also complains of the 30 eggs, and makes unpleasant noises all the time, expressing his extreme displeasure with our presence.
13:00 Gate 753
On the way through the village, we are glad to see first, that the hamlet now has a real mosque, instead of a loudspeaker blaring out of a plain, concrete building. The latter has now been transformed, with stone siding and crenellations as well as a small minaret: a real mosque. Next, on the north side of the roadway, one of the defunct chicken runs has been revitalized and is filled with white hens. On the south side of the roadway, the runs are as derelict as ever.
By the barrier, a crowd of people, cars and a horse cart. A mirror image on the A-Ras side and in the centre, on the separation barrier itself, a group of soldiers, five of them, doing absolutely nothing. From the locals, we hear that they've been made to wait in the sun for the past three hours. We call the Humanitarian Center even before we talk to the sergeant commander who tells us, "Talk to the inhabitants, I don't talk to you." It's clear the soldiers have done nothing and are still doing nothing. We continue to make phone calls. All at once, the DCO jeep arrives with two soldiers, one captain, one lieutenant colonel: they're here because of the call to the Humanitarian Center. They soon clear up the "balagan" (mess) at the seam zone checkpoint . A man who was smoking in his car was reprimanded by the sergeant commander (for smoking in his own car), and it was because of this that there was a stand off. No initiative shown on the part of the soldiers, or, as may, indeed be the case, a desire to make life as impossible as they could for the local inhabitants. As things begin to move, a woman military police checks off each ID against a list she has in front of her. A laborious and long process, since each person has both an ID and a permit to enter and leave from Gate 753. Both the DCL representatives now berate us, following the sergeant commander, for standing, as we do, in the center of the checkpoint. Both defend the actions and inactions of the soldiers at the checkpoint although it's clear that they're indefensible.