'Anabta, 'Azzun, Deir Sharaf, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Ras 'Atiya, Sun 8.11.09, Afternoon
"Occupation doldrums" should be the title of today's shift. There's a kind of inertia in the air, not a blade of grass seeming to stir in the hills of the OPT, mirrored by the becalmed, still Mediterranean, the sight of which is always a relief after the harshness of Occupation.
12:10 Habla Agricultural Gate
Two jeeps of six soldiers; the gate is still open as a small truck, bearing a large group of young papaya trees, impresses the soldiers stationed here. A young Palestinian man, who looks old enough to have his own ID, card can't cross the Seam Line: "What can I do"? he asks us without expecting an answer. "I need my father!"
Near Alfe Menashe
Not a truck, not a workman in sight by the new Separation Wall, and little work has been done since our last visit a week ago either here or at what we assume will be the new checkpoint kilometers away from its present location on the Seam Line.
Soldiers here, checking cars and people coming out of the village against a list, tell us there's no way to cross over to the other side of the Seam Line, "it's Area A" (really)? As for the newly being built Separation Wall, the commander asks if we know the Wall in Jerusalem:" It's to save us from shots" (really)? Small children, unaware of this farcical conversation, pass us as they make their way homewards after school, crossing the Seam Line checkpoint, without being bothered. We wonder what will happen to them once this checkpoint is closed and the new one, kilometers away from their schools and homes, is in operation?
Qalqiliya - no checkpoint today
Azzun - no earth mound today
All along Route 55 little traffic, as if the world has taken a holiday, or as if the Occupation has become tired or bored: not a single Hummer or jeep or Safari to be seen until we reach Jubara.
Qedumim - But here settlement building, of course, continues apace. A vast new yellow crane is working on the south side of the settlement.
Deir Sharaf - The soldiers sit under their awning, a coffee or card table in front of them. They are busy shooting the breeze, doing nothing to check the vehicles, Israeli (yellow license plates) or Palestinian that pass the checkpoint in either direction.
Anabta - very little traffic which moves freely
Jubara - The soldiers seem not to know what to do with us. They don't know MachsomWatch. Say we should wait until they find out if we can go through the gate up to the village and on to Gate 753. We wait and wait. We usually don't mention this, but two of the four soldiers wear kipot. We see them making phone calls. Nothing happens. Fifteen minutes later, a Safari, bearing a new shift appears. It's obvious, we are not going to get up to Gate 753 today.
Last, but not least, a non army truck appears, from the Israel proper side of the checkpoint, stops on the south side of the Jubara checkpoint, and from it descend one male soldier, the driver and three female soldiers. The dog, visible inside, stays put, but the four soldiers "get dressed," by donning their flak vests. They are now ready to drive onwards into the heart of an area that is teeming with terrorists!