There was a strange calmness to day's shift, leading to a sneaking suspicion that "transfer," that sanitized term for ethnic cleansing, is already taking place in the OPT. There were fewer Palestinian vehicles on the road today, fewer taxis, fewer private cars, and enormous numbers of lumbering Israeli trucks, as well as innumerable Israeli private cars. Another looming fact on the ground, which bolsters this sneaking suspicion, is the security barrier/wall which snakes around the inner portions of the Palestinian side of Green Line to bring settlements into the Israeli side of the wall. We have witnessed for a while how the wall impinges on Palestinian lands, prevents agricultural workers from access to their fields, violates the basic rights of mobility and work, and helps to upset the deep Palestinian rootedness in their land, making the very fact of transfer a fear that seems to be grounded in facts.
12:30 Near Alfe Menashe
Beware -- all drivers on the roadway near the "building in process" at the Security Barrier to-be. The road has "developed," or the great engineers of the IDF have created a very steep gradient from the road being built and the one we travel on. A lot of equipment at work here, improving the Occupation, of course. There's brand new wire atop the brand new wall, still only half completed. But it will be: work here is never slow when there's an Occupation at work.
12:45 Ras Atiya
We seem to have stumbled on a performance of Eugene Ionesco's "The Chairs." There are, in fact, two white plastic chairs in the center of the checkpoint, on which sit two soldiers, casually and peacefully. Maybe they're indeed highlighting the loneliness and futility of human existence! To add to the mise en scene, another soldier stands, and a military policewoman completes the scene. Action? Not much today. A couple of young women show their IDs, two little boys meander across from the village, one dragging a big plastic bag with UNICEF on it. The Italian government-donated bus arrives, filled with passengers, and the driver tells us, "We'll see how it is today." The soldiers get up from their chairs, but there's no checking, and the bus proceeds on into the village.
Two of three young men who've crossed the Separation barrier earlier in our monitoring stop by our car as we are about to leave. One, from Ad Daba, close by, speaks a street Hebrew well, which he learned while in prison. Life is made so difficult by the soldiers, he complains, although not today, and D. goes back and forth several times each day to make life difficult for them. In other words, he, too, is part of the theater of the absurd!
On the settlement looming over the checkpoint, Har Bracha, building cranes are at work, but here at the checkpoint, yellow springtime weeds camouflage the turnstiles and the sophisticated checkpoint shed that made up the horror that was Huwarra; debris lies all over the place of other Occupation buildings demolished. But the military lookout tower is still there and manned, added to which there are two soldiers, one of them a Border Policeman, at the entrance to the now empty parking lot and another group of soldiers checking vehicles coming out of the city of Nablus but no checking going in.
14:00 Gilad Ranch
Purple lupins at the entrance to this illegal outpost on Route 60 are outdone by the buildings that have been erected there: "in your face" colors of striking purple, bright blue and other paler shades. A wooden house (Swedish style) completes the blatant wrongdoing. But who's to care or control? This is Judea and Samaria, no?
14:30 Deir Sharaf
Another "illegality," the creation of a roadway up to the settlement of Shavei Shomron when the original one is perfectly good. But the new one, still unused, still unfinished, has taken up yet more Palestinian land, uprooted yet more olive trees which form the livelihood of many in this part of the world.
A lot of traffic flowing in both directions, the red stop light is, as always, turned on, but has no meaning. A soldier stands desultorily at the side, nowhere near the checking booths which remain unused. He is joined by another who soon makes his way back into the military lookout tower.
Few Palestinians returning from work, and we can see nobody working at any of the positions inside.
Many more people returning from work here, and they pass quickly into the building and out again, with no delay.
A huge mass of concrete building going on here in the settlement above the old Qalqilya checkpoint, and a house with five or six bedrooms is available -- or maybe it's already sold?