'Azzun, Deir Sharaf, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Jit, Ras 'Atiya, Shave Shomron, Mon 5.4.10, Afternoon
In Hebrew, "seder" and "seger" are words similar in sound, but not in meaning. "Seder," actually means "order" and it's true, there is an "order" to the Jewish Passover meal which is called "Seder." But modern Jewish Israelis, at least the Israeli authorities, also create or impose order by proclaiming a "seger," meaning a general closure on the West Bank for eight days; that has nothing to do with the fact that, this year, Orthodox Easter happens also to fall at the same time. What "seger" means is that even Palestinians with valid permits cannot enter East Jerusalem or Israel. Workers cannot get to their jobs. Their livelihoods? Not a concern to the "chosen people." In any case, to the authorities, "order" means "orders," and there are plenty of those "orders," including a brand new one for us: a donkey may only carry one, not two, sacks of feed for sheep across the Separation Barrier! Moreover, since there are plenty of holidays in the Jewish calendar, religious or national, there is plenty of the other type of order concerning closures. That's "order" from one point of view, but it's tragic that on the "festival of freedom" there's not an iota of concern for the freedom to earn a living, for the freedom to move about for any others than the "chosen people."
On Route 55, there's been heavy traffic, going westwards, most of the time, nearly all of it Palestinian (green license plates) since the settlers are well settled in their settlements, celebrating ....
Perhaps there's been a "rolling checkpoint" in the area, since, when we pass Azzun, there's an army jeep on the side of the road, possibly resting after its endeavors to maintain "security" by stopping and checking traffic on the apartheid road.
10:30 Jit Junction
A military jeep approaches from the Zaatara direction, and seems to stop to create a rolling checkpoint (see our return journey).
A police car is on the main road, Route 60, on the way down to the turn to Nablus. More police and military vehicles seen later in the day,
11:00 Deir Sharaf
The checkout here, of recent vintage, in the overall history of checkpoint creation and destruction, is no more, and no vestiges of it remain.
Just beyond the turn off for Jenin, there's a new sign outside the minimarket indicating that the local council is building a new road here (the present one is deeply potholed), courtesy of the Palestinian Authority).
12:10 Shavei Shomron
We hear about other road works beyond the closed checkpoint (both gates almost, but not quite, closed, making one wonder who is permitted to pass, road works or not)?! The soldiers immediately come over to ask who we are, have no idea who or what MachsomWatch is, listen as the one up in the military lookout tower makes a phone call. The soldier is willing to talk to us but not on camera.
12:30 Jit Junction
The military jeep is now stopping and searching the trunk of a car with (yellow) Israeli plates.
12:35 Shvut Ami
Just beyond the settlement of Qedumim, a group of five young men, all dressed up, walk on the roadway, carrying foil wrapped food. They are clearly on their way to the outpost on the hills, lately not lived in, but today there another two festively dressed young settlers on the hilltop, awaiting their colleagues. Here, no military jeeps in sight!
Just beyond, in the village of Fonduk, a white police jeep stands at the side of the road, but rather than enjoying the food stand there, the two policemen sit inside.
12: 45 Near Azzun, a white police van.
12:55-13:00 Gate 109, Shaar Eliahu
We are shouted at, aggressively, by the military policewoman (we're getting used to that) after the soldier has asked us politely to move behind the white line and wait for out turn to be checked. Our film crew, in front of us, is relieved of its IDs and the men are told to go through the "security" bunker (no windows). They emerge unscathed, then have to return there once more with their IDs in hand!
13:30 Ras Atiya
No work on the new in-your-face gate and separation barrier roadway today. But plenty of action as life goes on, as normally as is possible in these abnormal circumstances, at the Ras Atiya checkpoint.
The commander, a sergeant is quite willing to talk to us, agrees to being filmed, as long as faces don't appear, understands Arabic and speaks English. But his two colleagues, of lesser, or no rank, make obvious signs that they want him to talk no more.
Although it's too late to see schoolchildren or teachers returning home, there are numerous trucks, cars and families with small children, a group of young men - all willing to explain what the Separation Barrier and life on the Seam Zone does to them. Cars, trucks and people wait as the checking is slow, but some are nevertheless willing to stop some more and talk. They explain that journeys may take two to three hours, especially when the gates are closed from 18:30 to 6:30 and somebody needs desperately to get to hospital; others seem to some have a clear understanding of "they want to get rid of us" (land grab is not an Arabic expression)!
13:45 -- the reality is brought home to us as two young men and a donkey cross from the side where we observe to Ras Atiya. Soon, a biblical scene, in that the donkey returns, young man on its back, laden now with two large sacks. The soldiers approach, an altercation starts, and it becomes clear, from this side of the Separation Barrier that the young man on the donkey, with his two sacks, laden with feed for his family's sheep, will not be allowed to pass. "With one bag, fine." The problem is that one bag is not enough to feed all the sheep, and the young man has been forbidden to return for the second bag. Tomorrow is another day! And tomorrow, the Israeli authorities, or the individual soldiers at Ras Atiya will come up with yet another ploy to make life difficult for the Palestinian. .
As this is going on, a car is checked, its back, as well as trunk, filled to the brim with similar looking sacks.
14:05 -- a Hummer arrives with three more soldiers, one of them a lieutenant. The six soldiers talk and talk, but as we leave the sergeant and the lieutenant approach us, crossing the checkpoint to reach us in our car and politely ask if all is well. We say, nonchalantly, that all is ok.
The gate is closed, but a man and two tractors are already in line to await its opening at 16:30.
The nurseries are strangely quiet, as those willing to venture to this Seam Zone area have probably had their fill of flowers, fruit and vegetables - until the next "seger" or holiday.