11:05 Gate 1392 Habla Agricultural Gate
The gate is only open at 11:15, so we hear from the people who work in the nurseries about more problems for the Seam Zone people who own the land they work on: one hour to get through Eliahu Gate, Gate 109, this morning, from 7:00-8:00. Another man, yet another nursery owner, tells of his permit to build a shop, one room, duly done, just down the main road, Route 55, but he could not open it (was forbidden), lost his six workers and his livelihood, now puts up with a "limited ID." "We don't want to work in Israel, we just want to work on our own lands… we have nowhere else to go."
11:50 -- little action at the gate today, other than sheep crossing, and our cowboy friend today is in charge of horses, not sheep, four of them, which he brings to the gate to be handed over to somebody waiting on the other side. Looks like a relay race, with no winners. A driver dismounts from his truck, goes over to the soldier, shows his ID, which is checked against a list (note that this man is going out of the Seam Zone area).
12:15 Ras Atiya: Seam Zone village
On the way past Alfe Menashe, we can see road widening, plus two caravans and earth moving equipment, surely for the beginnings of new housing in the settlement? We are also stopped by a group of local men before we get to the checkpoint to hear complaints about "Daniel" who appears to be on duty today, a military policeman.
When we get there, the commander refuses to answer our questions. "I don't answer questions…. what my name is makes no difference…. have a nice day." He says the same phrases over and over, sounding like a broken record. We stand where are, and he repeats the mantra over and over.
There's little human or vehicular traffic for quite a while. A young woman student, Al Quds Open University, has no problem crossing from the village where she's visited an aunt although she herself lives in Ras Atira.
12:20 -- two other women cross the barrier road without having to enter the concrete building on the far side., are just checked by a soldier standing in the middle of the crossing.
12:30 --a truck and two cars wait on the far side. All the drivers and passengers enter the concrete building. It's hot and windy, and people wait at the lone turnstile to enter the building in the time honored fashion of Occupation, "One by one."
By now, the line of vehicles waiting to be checked grows, but time is of no essence under Occupation. People wait and wait some more.
A truck driver is in a long discussion with a group of soldiers in the middle of the separation roadway. The military policewoman from the concrete building comes out, stands far off on the barrier roadway, making a phone call. People wait and wait some more.
A car, empty of passengers, is thoroughly inspected inside and in the trunk, four soldiers standing around it, working oh so slowly, or just gazing.
No noise, just the wind, and the endless Occupation.
12:35 -- a green jeep, a yellow light atop it, appears on the Separation Barrier roadway, bearing a sign, "Security, Seam Line," and an un-uniformed man, gun in his back pocket, emerges. More privatization. There are now six soldiers here plus one security guard.
12:45 -- the white bus, empty today, bearing the dove, the present form the Italian Government, appears, and the driver stops to complain of all the problems created by the "situation:" he, too, once worked in Israel….
Three young men wait with the Seam Line Security man, but, at this point, we don't understand what's going on. A few minutes later, a pickup truck, also bearing "Security, Seam Line" on it, appears and whisks the young men off. At this point, the green jeep drives up to us, comments how busily we're writing all the time and tells us that the three young men are helping to build the security fence….
On Route 55
Passing near Qedumim, we're admiring the huge patches, almost "ponds" of blue lupins, when, suddenly, from a dirt path, just north of the settlement another pick up truck appears, "Security Seam Line." So, the Wall will begin to be built here now too?
No soldiers, and the red traffic light never changes as traffic flows in and out of the still pristine, deserted checkpoint
14:10 Jubarra (Figs Crossing): Seam Zone village
Here, too, there's a traffic light, but this one is always green. Always green for the always locked gate leading up to the Seam Zone village of Jubarra. We have a lot of trouble getting through the gate, in spite of phone calls, made by Tami, prior to our arrival. "Nobody ever goes up there" we're told. Eventually, a soldier demands to see our "permit," and this, it appears, is the tag we wear to show we're MachsomWatchers!
As we drive up to the village, we note trees overflowing with yellow, unpicked lemons, one of the formerly empty poultry farms now filled to the brim with tightly packed chickens; green fields, overflowing with many small white flowers and a few red anemones, plus a herd of beautiful goats, some of whose frolicking kids are a silky grayish blue color. A white egret wanders happily in their midst, the shepherd, standing on the side of the roadway seemingly lost in thought.
The gate has "grown up," or become institutionalized, as everything in this endless occupation. There is an almost finished concrete house, a twin of the ones at Gate 1392 (Habla) or Ras Atiya on the far side of the Separation Barrier, an earth mover near by, digging a trench. The lights are on here, but there's little action. A yellow taxi still disgorges its passenger on the far side of the gate. A generator hums noisily, a tractor crosses from the village, and we note that a fully laden pickup truck makes its way, after inspection, along the Separation road to a far off yellow house. The one nearer the crossing seems to be no more, but a pile of rubble can be clearly seen, just off the separation roadway.
15:00 Jubarra gate
The soldier finally ambles over to unlock the gate to let us pass, but insists, not only on checking the trunk, and lifting up the carpet there but on the driver leaving her seat to open up the back (not as in Israel proper).