'Anabta, Deir Sharaf, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jit, Jubara (Kafriat), Ras 'Atiya, Mon 15.3.10, Afternoon
A newly published book, entitled, The Power of Inclusive Exclusion, by two faculty members of Tel Aviv University, analyzes the Israeli occupation as a rationalized system of political rule. Unlike the usual views of the occupation as a twisted form of brutal colonization, a type of Jewish apartheid, or an inevitable response to terrorism, The Power of Inclusive Exclusion uncovers the structural logic that sustains and replicates, maintains and duplicates the regime that is occupation and that is now over four decades old - hardly an "occupation" in the usual, temporary sense of the term. Based on what we, MachsomWatchers, observe today, and what we have monitored over the years in the OPT, it's an interesting point of view. After all, there are always new forms of humiliation and harassment, new bans of some sort or other, new prohibitions or "exclusions."
A Palestinian tells us that he can't bring his wife from Habla to "my lands," and although he has a permit to get to his own property, his wife doesn't. The soldier explains patiently, "you can call it a border, if you like, but she can't cross... nobody can cross without authorization." Since that indeed is the case, and the soldier‘s mind can't be moved, the car returns to Habla.
A Palestinian in a newish car tells us that we should come at 6:30 in the morning when the gate, or gates, are crowded and there are problems.
A private car with Israeli license plates, yellow, drives along the separation road, inside are two soldiers. A large tractor, dragging a chain harrow, prepares the dirt roadway to be smooth and ready for the IDF to track "infiltrators." Two young men are turned back at the far side of the crossing point, not allowed to cross, for what reason we can't tell.
12:13 -- two minutes earlier than scheduled, the soldiers close all the agricultural gates, for here at Gate 1392, there are certainly more than one or two gates to be securely locked - until the next scheduled opening.
On the way to Ras Atiya
Work proceeds apace on the new roadway/checkpoint, and the new Separation Wall is topped by a wire fence, which looks electrified.
12:45 Ras Atiya
Sitting in the shade under the concrete shelter is a teacher we've met before. We learn that there is trouble here: teachers can no longer cross by merely showing IDs, but have to get out of vehicles and pass through the so-called "checking room"(a concrete windowless structure). This policy/law (whatever its euphemism) is but a few days old. Moreover, earlier in the day, because of the pressure of so many people going out of the village or coming in, the teachers on their way to the nearby, visible school, the policy/rule was not enforced. But what a difference now. The chief person/people behind this latest harassment is not Y. the commander, but his two military police, an especially rude and officious woman and a man who speaks nonstop to Palestinians, saying, over and over, "English or Hebrew, not Arabic." In fact, it is the complete lack of sensitivity to Arab culture that strikes us today in this occupation which seems to know no bounds. "Honor" is key in Palestinian society, and teachers are honored, as many used to be in Western society too. The Palestinian teachers cannot understand why a new rule is being enforced when they cross this Seam Line every day, to and from school. Is there no "honor" to teachers, they keep asking. The soldiers, especially the military policewoman, show not the slightest consideration or appreciation of anything but their own, ugly way of being.
Over and over again, we hear from teachers, some young, some older, mainly men, that they don't want to go into the "checking room," and demand a reason why they should. They don't understand why soldiers who know them, who have seen them pass, day in day out, can't show some consideration to them, as teachers. As for us, the monitors, we see, once again, that the problems in this part of the OPT lie on the Seam Line and along the Seam Zone. It is here that the newest and greatest humiliation and harassment occur every day, and it is here that the Occupier dreams up and enacts all the latest prohibitions and bans.
Y. defends this newest order, recently received, saying the soldiers, need to "keep track" of who goes in or out. To us, monitors, it looks like the exercise of total control. Some teachers are told that since they refuse to go into the checking room, they can "go back to the school and sleep there."
13:10 -- another group of Ras Atiya residents, desiring to return home, is stopped, made to go to the checking room, but the door is locked! Three people wait - and wait.
13:20 -- the minibus, donated by the Italian government, with a driver well known to us, as he is to everybody around here including the soldiers, is stopped. The driver tells that it was all right in the morning, but now there are problems being created, that he feels the soldiers are daring the teachers to demonstrate. Again, the issue of "honor" accorded to the teaching profession is expressed to soldiers who have no tolerance or understanding of "the other."
The "mukhtar" of Ras Atira has been called by the teachers and appears, speaking in his charming, fluent Hebrew to the soldiers to little avail. The military policewoman, in particular, is rude and uncouth, the commander standing back and allowing her to proceed as she will.
13:45 -- suddenly, we see that the minibus, which has been stopped in crossing the Seam Line road, proceeds across: no one has had to get out of the bus after all. So, the soldiers gave way - influence of MachsomWatch and the head of the nearby village?! We are told, in no uncertain terms, it won't be that way tomorrow.... And if the children have no teachers who can reach them in the morning, what does the Occupier care?
14:15 Jit Junction
A Hummer, with Border Police in attendance, stands in the old checkpoint position, and a line of four to five cars from Huwarra waits as a Border policeman checks the first car.
Deir Sharaf, Anabta and Jubara: nothing to report
Irtah: not a soul, other than civilian security guards in sight: the "closure," because of "problems" in Jerusalem is in force, meaning that no Palestinians can reach their jobs in Israel.