Deir Sharaf, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jubara (Kafriat), Sun 4.9.11, Afternoon
The social protest movement here began on July 14, “le quatorze juillet,” the date that symbolizes the uprising of France as a modern nation. Whether Israel is headed in the direction of social justice, equality, and democracy is not yet obvious, since the “revolutionaries” or “protesters” have to triumph over a government that cannot or will not face up to the ongoing social demonstrations. Unresolved conflicts, to an Israeli government, can and must remain unresolved. So, the government continues to take comfort in showing that it can act with determination to protect Israel’s security, and that it prefers, well ahead of the September vote about Palestinian statehood, to resort to crises and banging the drumbeats of trouble in the OPT. Already military materiel is all over the place, and one can feel in the air that security checkpoints, plus the usual roadblocks, are bound to become part of the landscape again, while the Seam Zone becomes ever more a “no man’s land” where people’s lives are hard whether Palestine is an independent state or not.
12:55-13:20 A Hummer arrives early, in time to open the gates for waiting Palestinians but the two lone soldiers check them outside the concrete hut, and it’s slower than usual. The reason is soon obvious. A jeep carrying the military policewoman – late on the job – arrives at 13:20!
Nothing unusual about the trucks, pedestrians, bicycles and pony carts, crossing from either side of the Separation Barrier, but it’s the first time we’ve seen a group of about 20 little boys with one older boy and an older woman walk across the Separation Barrier. The latter two’s IDs are checked. These are indeed the Bedouin kids we’re used to seeing coming across with a school bus. A new school year and no bus? Shortage of funds?
13:15 – a pickup truck arrives and carries off the woman and a number of the kids in the cab of the truck while others run after it and hop on to the back.
13:25 – now we spy a large, green bus, “the” school bus, arriving from Habla. In it are both boys and girls, and we can’t help noting that the girls are at the back of the bus….
Gate 1360 on the Security Barrier near Alfei Menashe
This gate has been closed for a long time and forms part of the enclave of surrounded Palestinian villages near Alfei Menashe. This is the second time that the gate leading on to the Security Barrier has been open. It is labeled 1359 and 1360, since it seems that each section of an opening in the fence has to have a gate number! The open section is, of course, on the north side of the Barrier, on the side we are parked. The other, southern side consists of three gates as is usual in these parts. Why is one section open? It’s clear since “they” are “improving” a road leading to the Separation Barrier from Ras Atiya, perhaps to create a new security checkpoint?
14:00 Sh’aar Eliahu or Gate 109
So called improvements are also being instituted here. Added to which a blue policeman plus a Border policeman check cars, no, correct that, checking cars entering the OPT whose drivers bear Israeli IDs but who are racially profiled as Arabs even though they are Israelis. Two such cars are accorded this treatment in front of us.
We note, too, that the grandiose compound on the south side of the checkpoint with its ominous grey concrete walls, probably the height of the Jerusalem Wall, is being whitewashed, literally, we should add. Two painters are jazzing up the drab gray with pristine white paint – no, whitewash. Stay tuned for more whitewash in the coming weeks.
Along Routes 55 and 57 many jeeps and Hummers, as well as white Matak jeeps.
We hear, for the first time, that Palestinians, as we know from the summer, are being issued permits, of up to one week, to visit Israel. We hear, too, that more and more Palestinian Israelis, “48ers” are bringing their Israeli Jewish friends to visit the OPT, in particular Nablus for eating and shopping. Interesting tourism taking place despite politics!
14:45 – a large contingent of Military Policewomen here, a whole unit. As has been common in the past weeks, they have something to say about checkpoints: wishing them away, not for reasons of human rights but for reasons of their own convenience and their lack of desire to serve at these institutions.
15:00 Irtah (Sha’ar Efraim)
Here the issue is less one of human rights but one of civil rights. The Palestinian workers pass through easily on their way home now. But one of the Palestinian Israeli midi bus drivers complains of the wait and checking he has to endure at places like Jubara where, indeed, the waiting line for Palestinian Israelis is longer than ever. Even our trunk and back of the car as well as IDs are checked, but the Palestinian Israelis, in their special line for checking, bearers of blue Israeli IDs, have something much more onerous to deal with.
In addition, and this needs to be double checked, Palestinians, particularly those who come into Israel from Palestine at this odd time of day, seem to be systematically checked, on schedule, one every fifteen minutes, having to wait in a windowless room, waiting to be called (and this is before any hospital appointment, if that is what they have a permit to enter Israel for).