Tayasir, Thu 21.7.11, Afternoon
Again, the Occupation defeats the Palestinians. Gochya gate - whose sole purpose is to imprison Palestinians and isolate them from their livelihoods in the West Bank, a gate which, together with the ditches and dirt piles, the checkpoints and locked gates, separates children from school, patients from health services – this gate is closed. It’s supposed to open 3 times a week, in the morning and the afternoon, to release pressure, to create the illusion that life is possible here, even when you’re blocked on all sides, even when every path to civilization is withheld from you.
Today, the appointed hour came (3 pm) but the soldiers haven’t arrived to open the gate.
It was brutally hot. 41c degrees in the shade. But there was no shade – only, perhaps, in the verdant settlements. Given their plentiful water supply, they have plenty of shade. Here, there is only sun. Hard, burning sun, making it hard to breathe. Two men with a tractor were already waiting by the locked gate when we arrived. They’d gone through to the West Bank to buy cattle feed. Now they’re trying to return home. We wait with them. We call the DCO. A. answers. When I say the soldiers were supposed to be here 15 minutes ago, he says, “And?” As if, what’s the big deal. Later, phone call after phone call evokes the same excuses: “These are new soldiers, they’re not in the loop yet” and then “the jeep got stuck on the way.” When I say I’d passed the army base on my way here and didn’t see any stranded jeep, they say it got stuck in the base. I say, “there’s only one jeep in the whole base?” I use an innocent tone, but it’s not funny, the warmth isn’t human. I feel ill and go seek some shade near the tractor’s wheel. We offer each other water but can’t cool our raging heads.
Meanwhile, Yosef tells us of other trials and tribulations, of other days when he’d waited endlessly and they didn’t open, of how he’d gone to sleep with strangers because he couldn’t go home. As always, camaraderie forms among those stuck together in a place where they don’t want to be… except that we have a choice in the matter, unlike Yosef. Our air-conditioned car on the “right” side of the line separates the occupier from the occupied.
At 4:25pm, an hour and a half late, the heralded jeep finally arrives. It approaches. Then stops and for five boiling minutes, the soldiers stay put in their air-conditioned vehicle before deciding to go out into the masses. The tractor goes through without a hitch, without even being examined. Alon asks one of the soldiers why they were late, and the soldier mumbles in response, “we had stuff to do.” Then, reconsidering, he rattles off the broken jeep excuse.
The headache that starts in this infernal heat won’t leave me afterwards for two days. I can only be glad that this was summer vacation, which means no children have to bear this heat while waiting to cross for the weekend from their relatives in the West Bank.
Tayasir checkpoint 1:45pm -2:45pm
A new unit mans the checkpoint. Speedy movement without delays. Passersby, though, tell us of early morning delays. The soldiers ignore us, and it’s better that way.