Eyal Crossing, 'Anabta, Deir Sharaf, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jubara (Kafriat), Shave Shomron, Sun 12.9.10, Afternoon
It’s a New Year for many, the third day of Eid el Fitr for others. The problem is that after 43 years of occupation, and Israel’s continuing determination to maintain sovereignty and confiscate land, generations of Israelis have ceased to see the other side, the Palestinians, as human beings. Whereas, of course, MachsomWatch volunteers go into the West Bank to monitor violations of human rights, the fact is that, we also assume a “people to people” approach, visiting those we’ve gotten to know over the years, at or near checkpoints, outside terminal buildings or at agricultural gates. True, we are there to “bear witness,” but we are also there to meet and greet our fellow human beings who, just like us, wish to live a “normal” life.
14:00 we are there at the usual opening time, and the gates are open. But since it is the first day of the “fall back” clock, we ask about gate opening. So far, only the evening opening time has changed, now from 16:45-18:00 (instead of an hour later).There are people waiting on both sides of the Separation Barrier, more on the Habla side, about 15 that we can see, half that number on the side where we watch. Since it is a holiday, there are less horse or donkey drawn vehicles than usual and not one tractor.
14:10 -- the gates are closed by the three soldiers working lackadaisically on a not too hot late summer day. Why are the gates closed? “There’s been an incident.” Nevertheless, an elderly man and his cart are let into the middle of the Separation Barrier road, and his sweetly, aromatic guavas, hidden beneath a blanket, are uncovered for inspection. On the far side of the checkpoint, the metal barricade, which has been closed, is now swung open, and this cart passed. A similar incident with another guava carrying cart, with its owner having to leave the cart and horse, as usual, to go to the concrete bunker which serves as a checking booth before proceeding.
14:20 -- a white jeep, “police” written on its side, arrives and soldiers and police talk. People wait, nothing moves. A usual situation. The speed, sorry, slowness by which the soldiers function has nothing to do with the heat but with overall policy: let them wait, check everything over and over (even of people who pass not once but twice a day, etc. etc.)
Nothing to report on Route 55 other than many military vehicles on the road. The only rolling checkpoint, if indeed it was to be one, was at the old entryway to Shavei Shomron where a group of soldiers stood at the side of the road with two Hummers. Anabta is busy with fast flowing traffic, no soldiers in view and just one vendor – of figs.
Once again, we took the newly paved road past Jit and Sarra and drove down to Beit Iba on the new asphalted stretch of road given “by the American people to the Palestinian people.” Below, Beit Iba is as dusty and forlorn looking as ever, its days of full time checkpoint duty and harassment over.
We could be in an Israeli town, since the parking place outside the minimarket is filled with cars bearing yellow license plates. The Palestinian Israelis have been so busy shopping in Nablus and its surrounds, that the minimarket was open around the clock in the days before the start of Edi el Fitr, and even today, business is brisk.
We drive up Route 60 to the checkpoint and, not unusual, we attract the attention of the sleepy soldiers on duty here, and two of them come over as we prepare to turn and go back down the hill. As last time, the commander, who still seems to know little of who we are and what we do, has to shush his officious underling who wants to ask questions of us.
16:05-16:40 Just like the other Israeli cars, we stand in line and wait and wait. There are hundreds of vehicles it seems, waiting to go back into Israel proper, and we see, from afar, a long line of vehicles also entering the gateway from Tulkarm directly: the first time Jubara has been used as a junction in many years.
16:50 There’s a barricade across the roadway, no entry into the terminal parking lot. Few returning Palestinian workers, but a number of mini vans offload workers near by.