'Anabta, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jubara (Kafriat), Sun 17.7.11, Afternoon

Observers: 
Susan L.(reporting); Guest
Jul-17-2011
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Afternoon

Summary
As MachsomWatchers, we bear witness to what is going on in the OPT, drive through a landscape that is by now familiar to us at all times of the year, scarred only by increasing settlement growth and land grab, but unless we take visitors with us, we rarely look at the map. When we do, we note that the Israeli road atlas appears to incorporate all of Palestine, since the Green Line is little more than a faint, dotted line, like this: ----------The checkpoints appear as a Tsadik צ .  And around each settlement, not indicated as such, is a security road, also lightly marked, but pretty, like a seed pearl necklace, ---o-----o-----.The map we usually look at, from B‘tselem, resembles a Jackson Pollock painting, and shows all the checkpoints, all the settlements and the growing envelopment of the Separation Barrier. Not a pretty picture!

13:07 Habla
All gatesinfo-icon open, the newly created pedestrian gate seemingly forgotten. One horse and cart with straw, another with “Alte Zachen” (secondhand stuff). Unlike on previous occasions, nothing is examined, these soldiers seem easy. The man with the cart piled high with straw, drives to the other side of the Separation Barrier, returns, to the center, says something to the military policewoman who is standing in the shelter with two soldiers (only two this week) and walks over to us, asking for help for his 30 year old son, out of work, none to be found, seven children and blacklisted. The father speaks good Hebrew, and we ask him to talk to S., who will listen to yet another sad tale of woe from the OPT and do her best to help.  

Another hot summer’s day, and we note the new crops peeking up above the ground, fed from the spring, housed where Catholic Relief Services and the Mennonites gave help, in 2002.  The owner of these 8 dunams, from Habla, tells us that one crop, where we stand is the eponymous “lubia” (green bean), and next to the tall growing corn, is food for horses, since the latest IDF ruling is that no animal foods may be transported across the Separation barrier. Moreover, the huge, rusty water container, fit to hold hundreds of
liters cannot be revitalized. No paint may be brought across the Separation Barrier…We turn to leave as the owner of his lands goes across to the concrete hut on the far side of the Barrier, to show ID which has to be shown several times a day as yet one more Palestinian makes his way to and from his own home and his own lands. The humbling experiences of everlasting Occupation.

Later, we hear of a sick horse which had been brought to the area of the nurseries, had stayed there overnight and then was not allowed back… rules made on the ground by overbearing soldiers.

Route 55
15:00 At the Eliahu Gateway, plain clothes police stand and look into vehicles, but don’t stop them. Building and reconstruction going on here to create a bigger and better entry to the OPT (as if the Seam Zone were open lands)! Just beyond, at the entry way to Qalqilya (sorry, nobody can know that the roadway off to the left leads to an enclosed city of 45,000 people) a blue police van, checking cars coming from that city.

Along the road, a lot of traffic, mainly Israeli cars (yellow license plates), but one has to notice that the Palestinian cars we see today are newer vehicles than a year or two ago.

Ramat Gilad
A new banner, in large letter Hebrew, “Rise and Go up Now,” with smaller letters which can’t be read as we climb up the hill towards Al Funduk. Here a bulletproof police van, similar to an army Hummer, is seen on the road.

Route 57
16:00 Ramin
Nothing changes. The mounds and ditches still cut the village off from the road. People climb across the IDF built mound by the main road towards two waiting vehicles.

Anabta
Traffic moves slowly through the checkpoint but there don’t seem to be any soldiers visible. Stickers, in Hebrew, placed on the signpost with the junction at Route 57 say nothing more innocuous than “Netanya.”  

16: 10 Jubara
Abu Ghatem’s house seems squeezed in between the huge, gleaming white rocks, his land clearly having given way to the newly (still being built) Separation Barrier.
Border guards inspecting vehicles going into the West Bank.

16:15 Irtah (Sha’ar Efraim)
Noise of drilling going on, from the direction of the back-to-back facility. More construction? A steady stream of returning workers, guards no longer interested in them. Three unlock a padlocked gate leading to the back-to-back area and one asks, “So what do you want?” We answer that we’re “MachsomWatch,” and, sotto voce, “We want an end to Occupation.”