'Atara, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Sun 21.3.10, Afternoon

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Roni Hamerman and Tamar Fleishman (reporting and photographing)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?
Qalandyia checkpoint:
Very quietly, like thieves in the night, on Friday morning at the break of dawn a closureinfo-icon on Qalandyia checkpoint was announced, it was to continue during the whole week.

All those under the age of 50 weren't permitted to pass. The implication was that those who had left home at first light, hoping to arrive at work, had lost two working days on top of those they had lost during the Purim closure and ones the Minister of Defense had arbitrarily decided on. They are to remain without work for the whole month as well, since it has an abundance of Israeli holiday and closures. 

The announcement regarding the closure was given only on Friday morning- "so that the laborers won't pass on the previous day and spend the night at Jerusalem", said a person we know who is an expert on the reality and conduct under the occupation. He also said that it is common among those who employ laborers from the West Bank, to deduct (steal) 600 Shekels per month for obtaining them a work permit. Some even over-price this outrageous fee and take 1,500 Shekels for themselves out of the employee's paycheck. 


After paying all the fines, the closures which make them lose days of work and all the theft that this entails, how are these people supposed to feed the hungry mouths they had left at home?
The almond seller

-         Or as the person we were talking to put it: "Why do they do that? -these people are only looking for food".  

-         On the southern square, by the refugee camp, a military vehicle was parked. Three men in uniforms came out of it: two captains and one soldier. One of the captains was briefing the other, he was pointing towards all the direction while the soldier was securing them.

We told the captain that was being briefed that we too have some insights that we would like to share with him (after all we have seniority at the checkpoint and know it and the complications of the area, as well as the other captain if not better). Unsurprisingly, our offer was declined. 

It had been a while since we saw Ibrahim, who sells corn from his worn out cart to the people waiting at the traffic jam. He returned to his usual spot this week and explained his disappearance by saying: "There is no corm now, so I'm selling almonds…"those who know how to improvise survive.   

Atara/ Bir Zait checkpoint:
How many soldiers are needed to man a non-existing checkpoint?Pillbox

This checkpoint had been removed in adherence with Barak's, the Minister of Defense's, orders many months ago.

In reality, ever since the announcement was made, the lights are turned on, the clutter of the generator can be heard afar, the area surrounding the pillbox is locked and the soldiers are hidden in it and in the pillbox above. Indeed, the Palestinians only drive past it with their vehicles, but that is only true most of the time. Sometimes they, the soldiers, descend and inflict their feeling of dissatisfaction on the passersby, telling them to do as they wish with them.

The large amount of empty bullet jackets that were scattered around the checkpoint was evidence of this: bullets that were fired from a rifle and others that were fired from weapons that are called in the military lingo "Alfa"= weapons for riot control. There was also a case filled with Alfa-hand grenades which was place by the empty post.

The Palestinians wouldn't dare to stop at that spot; they keep on driving passed the checkpoint in full speed, hoping not to be the victim of the caprices of those who abuse them.  

Jaba checkpoint:
We returned to the checkpoint using road 60 in order to confront those manning it with the decree that forbids Jews from heading in the direction of Qalandiya. Ironically, we arrived there from the opposite side, from Qalandyia, which didn't cause any problem.

"We are heading to Ar-Ram", we told the soldier who asked as to where we were going.

"You know that it's 'A' territory?"

We enlightened him with the geographical facts. The soldier and his commander kept insisting that "there is such a law" which forbids Jews from heading on in that direction. "There is no such law", we said, if anything there might be a decree, which we asked to see and copy. We were asked to park in the checkpoint. The commander looked inside a folder which was full of documents, he also looked through a case on which was written "Alfa" (they too are well equipped with riot control arms). After he failed to find what he was looking for, he said: "Fine, go…"- we went. Was it a precedent? Only the future will tell.