'Anabta, Deir Sharaf, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jit, Jubara (Kafriat), Ras 'Atiya, Shave Shomron, Sun 28.3.10, Afternoon
Recently, something Barack Obama told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg during his campaign for the presidency came out: "Being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth." It's holding up the mirror that we MachsomWatchers do, and have done, through our monitoring over the past nine years. It is we who show, in our daily reports, that the hold on the settlement enterprise is total, that the authorities-that-be have no intention of quitting the Occupied Palestinian Territories, or of allowing Palestinians to exercise their rights. We shall have to see, in the upcoming weeks, if the American demands including withdrawing roadblocks, removing soldiers from parts of the West Bank and demanding a freeze on new Jewish settlements on Palestinian territory becomes part of the reality we monitor, or whether the harassment and humiliation, of which the Americans seem to know nothing, continue so cruelly and mindlessly without seeming end.
12:00 Gate 1392 - Habla
The three soldiers have nothing to do, are willing to talk - but only a little. In spite of a change to the summer clock, the three opening times of the gate(s) have not changed. The one fluent English speaker is told that he must not talk to us! No vehicular or animal traffic at all, although there are numerous cars, Israeli as well as Palestinian, at the nursery and at the greengrocer. As the gates on the far side are closed, exactly at 12:15, a tractor appears, but the young man driving it makes no attempt to persuade the soldiers to let him through. He turns the heavy equipment around and leaves, giving up.
Near Alfe Menashe on the way to Ras Atiya
There's a new gate, or gates, on the new roadway before the Separation Wall is reached. The big yellow gate is open, the hill gradient beyond still as steep, now well asphalted.
13:30 Ras Atiya
As we approach the Seam Zone checkpoint, we meet one of the teachers, cheerfully walking towards the crossing. He tells us that, yes, he and his fellow teachers now cross by going through the concrete building (something they had refused to do when this new ruling was introduced a couple of weeks ago). Indeed, we see that the door only opens sometimes, people having to wait, either by the turnstiles or by the locked closed door until beckoned for checking. Numerous schoolchildren around as well as a busload of boys and girls cheerfully calling out, in English, to ask our names.
Jit Jct. and Deir Sharaf
16:00 Shavei Shomron
A drive up to the usual closed checkpoint, on Route 60, shows that there's a new earth mound in the middle of the roadway, near where the so-called security road and wall were built around the settlement. On the other, Deir Sharaf, side of the settlement, the new roadway is well finished and completely unused. A jeep with two soldiers standing on the roadway is placed at the entrance to the now blocked old roadway.
It seems we're back on Route 5, where we were held up today by a bad accident. Long before Anabta, traffic grinds to a halt on this narrow road. When we near the checkpoint, there are still no soldiers in sight, so it seems there were, as usual no one there, but the red traffic light is, as always, on red, as traffic creeps and crawls through the checkpoint, but without stopping. From the Tullkarm direction, very little traffic. No explanation as to the jam.
A long line of vehicles waiting to pass the checkpoint, and we enter the settlers' lane and are told, rudely, by a military policewoman to hand her IDs and passports, and it seems she's never examined a passport before. Four people's passports are examined, every page, she makes one of the visitors delete a photo of the checkpoint and insists on having the trunk of the car opened. A "Happy Passover" is greeted with a glare and a stony silence.
In contrast to Jubara, a very polite security official, earpiece in place, followed by a baseball capped security guard with gun, responds cheerfully that although there's no problem, the guests are asked to please not take photos.
It's the last hours before "closure" marks the end of work in Israel for those Palestinian workers luckily enough to be allowed to do so - when there are no holidays or religious festivals being celebrated. Hordes of men, only a few women, make their way back to the OPT, many bearing bags of goodies, and most men carrying huge, long bags m-like huge camel bags -- over their shoulders, filled to the brim with oranges. Many say how easy it was to pass this morning, nobody seems to lament the closure, "What can one do?" is the tenor of acceptance we hear, over and over.
A dozen or so oranges escape from a bag and roll, swiftly, like balls in a bowling alley, towards the pins that we know already cannot, in this Occupation, be knocked down.