Huwwara, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Wed 22.12.10, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
16:00 We arrived at the Huwwara checkpoint. The pedestrian crossing is no longer in use and tall thistles now grow there. We hear a soldier calling from the tower: “Don’t approach.” No explanation. Cars go through the vehicle checkpoint completely freely. Four smiling soldiers welcome us. Everyone crosses freely. Why the checkpoint? “Sometimes we close it to inspect the vehicles.”
In the beginning was the explanation: The checkpoints are needed for security, and we can’t stint on them. For many months enormous sums were invested to prepare the large area, erect the long wire fences and construct the buildings. Thousands of people were detained on their daily trips. The wire fences are still there, as well as the empty buildings.
Like he said – approaching is forbidden.
17:15 We arrived at the Irtach checkpoint. No human control is visible: the “hidden” cameras operate above. The Ministry of Defense’s many yellow signs warn that photography is forbidden, even though thousands of Palestinians cross every morning and evening and see all its mysteries. They wait for some two hours at dawn before leaving for work to undergo a long, individual inspection by a limited number of staff (to save money) working at the privatized checkpoint. They already “miss” the army. In the afternoon the Palestinians cross the checkpoint on their way home.
In the beginning was the explanation: Security checks of the Palestinians are necessary only when they enter Israel. They aren’t necessary on their way home.
About 100 people on their way home are crammed in front of the revolving gate at the entrance, one of three they have to go through when returning to the village. They’re not inspected individually. The only representative of the Ministry of Defense was a janitor. A Palestinian. Only the cameras observe from above. The revolving gates opened and closed intermittently when we arrived. The congestion among those waiting increased. Then an unseen somebody must have pressed the required button and people began going through in an organized manner. All passed through the revolving gate, one-by-one. Cars continued to drop off more people.
This apparently happens again and again. We left.
“At first he adhered to the rebellious wisdom of fools, according to which something which must not exist does not, in fact, exist. But only at first…when no opposition to hostile authority appeared, surrender to it became utterly inevitable” (Jean Amery, At the Mind’s Limits)