'Anabta, Deir Sharaf, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jit, Shave Shomron, Wed 13.4.11, Afternoon
The media this week are full of "Passover posts," as if there were anything new to say on the subject of the festival of freedom. To the women of MachsomWatch, it's quite clear that we belong on the barricades of protest, on the stage of equality and freedom for Palestinians as well as Israelis, and that our dissent, vocal and active for over a decade of particularly harsh Occupation, is a stand for the traditional Passover call to justice.
13:00 Habla, Gate 1392
The soldiers arrive, on time and on cue, but take their time to open the gates, and there are more than in the past. A brand new pedestrian gate, planted on Palestinian soil, adds to the already present gates on either side of the Security Barricade checkpoint. Progress or institutionalization of the already 44 year old Occupation? The latter, surely, as well as more shekels flowing into the "Who Profits" basket.
One of the three waiting Palestinians on our side, one of whom has complained that he can get no permit to work in Israel, tells the soldiers that "We are only three," and they use the pedestrian gateway, and walk over to the concrete building on the other side to be checked.
Two soldiers now close the vehicle checking gates near where we stand. Why? For protection against onslaught? If so, by whom?
13:10 – on the far side of the Separation Barrier, we spy the usual tractors, horse cart and a smaller bus than usual for the Bedouin schoolchildren, once again, a mixed group of boys and girls. Pedestrians from the far side cross the usual way, and the brand new pedestrian gate is forgotten. We see that a young man is putting on his belt as he walks towards Habla and we wonder if there's yet another innovation. A metal detector in the concrete bunker like building? Who knows? After all, we are not privy to the authorities' strategy or secrets.
13:15 – a flock of sheep and their shepherd wobble their way towards us, and a digger tractor is "searched" in the usual perfunctory manner. The reservist manning the vehicle gates has no idea why there are more soldiers than usual today, at least six or eight, "I'm only a reservist, don't know what is going on," and, yes, he will work on the Passover holiday.
13:35 – the friendly nursery owner is "entertaining" a nursery man from Qedumim, a settlement, and we continue to wonder at the paradoxes of Occupation, especially as the latter tells us, in Hebrew, "We are family."
14:00 – some twenty or so minutes later, outside the settlement itself we spy a Hummer, one of several, especially around settlements today, and higher up the hill, opposite the Palestinian village of Jit, there is a brand new water pipe and its brightly shining controls rising arrogantly from the ground, serving, we have no doubt, the settlement alone and not its nearest neighbor.
14:10 Jit Junction
A Hummer has stopped there, and soldiers are questioning a Palestinian, although there appears to be no vehicle in sight.
14:30 Deir Sharaf
Yesterday, a new United Nations report, 12.4.11, highlighted progress made by the Palestinian Authority in building institutions necessary for a functioning State, while stressing the need for Israel to roll back "measures of occupation." "In the limited territory under its control and within the constraints on the ground imposed by unresolved political issues, the PA has accelerated progress in improving its governmental functions," stated the report, entitled "Palestinian State-building: A Decisive Period." UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry commended the progress achieved by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, but today the Palestinians disagreed with the analysis and expressed doubts that statehood would be achieved any time soon.
15:15 Shavei Shomron
The checkpoint is no more, and we can sail through easily, but fail to find the Roman ruins for which Sebastia is famous!
16:00 – on the other hand, checkpoints are still alive and well; at the former access point to the settlement, (before the settlers demanded their brand new access road), soldiers are beginning to set up a checkpoint, including spikes on the roadway, but wave us on, as they do the white car behind us with Israeli license plates.
Traffic flows freely, but there is a Hummer and soldiers standing at the foot of the military lookout tower.
16:40 Irtah/Sha'ar Efrayim
Flocks of Palestinians step down from their contractors' buses or pickup trucks and walk directly into the terminal building; the flow is continuous, many people carrying strawberries or other packages.
We gather that there is no real information as to when the "closure" will begin for the week-long Passover festival when the OPT are closed off more than ever. Surprisingly enough, the Palestinians go on their way without being stopped at any checking booth, and walk straight through the building – homeward bound. As usual, complaints about the long wait in the morning, the time it gets to get to work, and one complaint about withdrawal of a work permit for no apparent reason.