Deir Sharaf, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Sun 23.1.11, Afternoon
“Who Profits from the Occupation” was put together by, among others, Merav Amir, a fellow MachsomWatcher and our sisters at the Coalition of Women for Peace. To a great extent, that report deals with big money - big money made by commercial enterprises, Israeli and foreign, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Machsom Watchers on their shifts usually concentrate on the “facts on the ground,” on the fragments that we find out about the plight of ordinary Palestinians. Today we learned how Palestinians cannot afford to resign themselves to those who profit from the Occupation. But that makes the information we gleaned no less shocking.
On the way up to the Separation Barrier, we give a ride to a woman who wishes to get off at Gate 109, to make her way home to Qalqilya and her six children. Yes, she has a permit, and yes, she works in Israel, every day in another home, every day in a different Dan region town, and she goes on to lament, “So I have to pay 1000 NIS a month for a permit, but what can I do?” Somebody is being exploited and somebody is making a good living out of the Occupation.
13:00-13:40 Gate 1392 Habla
The Hummer arrives just before the appointed opening hour, but only two soldiers, reservists, stand in the middle of the Separation Barrier, relaxed about doing their duty on an unseasonably warm winter day. Those who wait are the usuals: men who’ve not only been working in agriculture, but who‘ve returned from a day’s work in Israel proper. So, Gate 1392 is not a “farmers’ gate,” but the only access point across the Separation Barrier for many who have work permits in Israel. A well spoken contractor, from across the Barrier, in Habla, returns home, telling us of his work with Israeli contractors who supply him with work permits “and I pay them 2000 NIS a month, since, they tell me, they must do the administrative work, filling out papers.” Yet, he’s resigned to pay this sum, since he has work, and it’s good work, be it in Ranaana, Netanya or Tel Aviv.
He, and another well spoken young man, who calls to us from across the Separation Barrier not to leave before he’s spoken to us, request that we attempt to have Gate 1392 open earlier in the morning, at 6:30, or even 6:45, so people can get to work in Israel; or, open from “7:00 to 7:00” as it was, in former days at the former checkpoint at Ras Atiya. We call T., the amenable Seam Zone DCO, who suggests that one of the Palestinians phone him directly.
The hills are alive, or begin to be alive, with soft shades of green, and everywhere there are shepherds and their sheep – masses of them, although, we’re told, the lambs aren’t due for another month or so.
Besides a lot of sheep, the traffic, particularly outside Nablus, at Deir Sharaf, going north on Route 60, in particular, is heavy. A marked difference from a year ago, and most of it is Palestinian….
On the way out of the OPT, near the “gate,” a soldier and a military policeman are harassing a Palestinian who is being sent back to where the taxis wait. We don’t know what happened, but the soldier returns to his post smirking and giggling in a most unpleasant manner.
We’re surprised, then, by the young military police woman who greets us with, “So, girls, and where are you from? Have a good day!”