Habla, Route 55, Deir Sharaf, Anabta, Jubara, Irtah (Shaar Efraim)
A recent MachsomWatch dispatch from our sisters in the South reported an exchange between the "manager" at a Seam Line terminal where they were told that it "separated Israel from Judea and Samaria, no, not Area C - areas C and B no longer exist." The myths, we know only too well, get multiplied and reinforced and become facts on the ground; and whether it's Oslo-speak, Areas B or C, or settler-speak, Judea and Samaria, the fact is that MachsomWatchers monitor the occupation of another people's land and all the hardships that permanent occupation, or colonization imply. And then there are the frequently heard phrases, often from our own friends and acquaintances, that "it's all so complicated," words that sound so much "nicer" than the denial of human rights to Palestinians. In all, there are alibis galore for complacency, for inaction, for the shrug of "ma laasot," the Hebrew for "what can one do?" But today we could not help but notice the depression of the Palestinians around Nablus. After the tragic murder of members of a Jewish family, in a settlement, a couple of days ago, collective punishment was being meted out by the army on all – checkpoints, road closures and no means of reaching family olive groves. "It's just like the old days" was the lament, hope for the future all but gone.
Seam Zone: Habla - Gate 1392
12:40 One of the men waiting to return home to Qalqilya asks, once again, that we try to have the gate open for longer times during the day. He next tells of a horrendous rolling checkpoint where everything was examined at great length including mobile phones and everything else, yesterday, near the settlement of Qedumim. Later, we heard more about how terrible things were for the Palestinians yesterday.
Meanwhile, sheep may still safely graze, or meander about, with but a couple of lambs, the promise of others on the way, in the paddock near the nursery; or, they may also wait at Gate 1392 for it to open, and indulge in whatever greenery they can to gorge themselves on. All over we see a portent of springtime -- large flocks of sheep and flowering borders and ditches, but few cheerful red flowers
13:03 -- only two soldiers in a jeep, one inside the concrete building, and the two decide that the most efficient way today is to open only one of the pair of gates at each side of the Separation Barrier, or, even to close one side completely while checking people, tractors, trucks, horse carts, etc., on the other. They indulge in checking cabbages heaped atop an open trailer, and so it goes, slowly, as the bus arrives. Some of the locals provide service to the Occupier by opening the gates wide, and next we're amazed to see that the revolution sweeping much of the Arab world has arrived here: in the one passing school bus, bearing the Bedouin kids, there are both girls and boys!
There is much less traffic than usual. From just beyond Fonduk, the army is much in evidence. Every settlement has a jeep stationed just off the roadway, at Qedumim, where there seems to be some settler action on the hill with the cave, above the infamous checkpoint at Jit, etc.
14:00 Deir Sharaf
It's quiet here, unpleasantly quiet, not with the usual bustle to which we've become accustomed. Yesterday, we are told, "everything was closed." People cowered in their homes, afraid, and it was, we gather, terrible. Checkpoints everywhere, and for three or four hours people were unable to go on any road, everything was closed, completely closed. Just like the bad old days, including the inability to tend to one's olive trees.
The coffee man is still serving coffee from his finjan, and tells that there are soldiers in the military tower, but nowhere else, and that it's quiet, little traffic.
Quiet here too, no lines of cars, no kids trying to peddle things one doesn't want or need. The women soldiers are bored, refuse to talk to us, while demanding IDs and seem unsure of what they are supposed to do.
15:00 Irtah (Shaar Efrayim)
A number of Transporters offloading women and men on their way home, the men usually carrying huge bags filled with oranges. As we walk with a large group of maybe ten to twelve people, the guards, the usual ones, now with yellow baseball caps, close the gate leading to the old parking lot where, incongruously, a motorized vehicle is sweeping up dust. The small crowd moves to the larger gate, near where the private security guards stand. That too is closed. We now go up to the guards and ask, "Why?" The answer, given three times is, "It's closed."
As we are about to make phone calls, a civilian car drives up, bearing A., the lieutenant colonel who is from the DCO, driving a policeman, whom he seems to take nearer the crossing point at the far side of the terminal building. A. seems not to know what is going on, but returns in his car, just as the gates are again opened, and the swarm of people now moves swiftly towards the terminal building for checking and the return home. A. indicates that he made a phone call, telling, "there was a bomb scare inside the terminal building" but he's grinning and seems not concerned as he drives on, without ever getting out of his car. The Palestinians make their way swiftly through their checking, and there's not a soul waiting. Strange are the ways of Occupation -- and cruel too.