'Anabta, 'Azzun, Deir Sharaf, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jit, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Shave Shomron, Sun 25.9.11, Afternoon
Although we, the women of MachsomWatch, try to shine light on the evils of occupation, we are only too aware that the occupied, the oppressed, the Palestinians rarely make the headlines, let alone the media. Yet, for more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Whether the shadows will once again obscure the evils of occupation remains to be seen, so it is up to us, those of us who venture to occupied territory, to Palestine, to continue to highlight violations of human rights and focus on the day to day abominations of occupation. Yet, today, the day Abu Mazen returned to Ramallah from the United Nations General Assembly, it would be inexcusable, no, unfeeling of us not to highlight the proudly waving symbol of Palestine’s liberty and freedom atop so many buildings and decorating the many roadways we passed by on our shift.
More problems have been created lately at Gate 1392, although rumors that it would be closed in October appear to be unfounded. Every day, there appears to be “something new,” put into place by soldiers on duty and meaning rules and regulations, probably not emanating from high up but made up on the spot by those same soldiers on duty.
13:10 At the gate itself, one solider, one military policeman and one Hummer, joined soon by a jeep and soldiers which soon triple the numbers guarding this agricultural gate. We see the son of the greengrocer who has walked to the concrete house to have his permit, etc. checked, returns to his truck on the Habla side of the Security Barrier and is made to lift up its canvas sides for “checking.” This is a man who crosses here several times a day, and, sure enough, ten minutes later, he returns to cross back to Habla. Again his empty truck is checked, and the same rigmarole goes on and on and on.
We question the soldiers, politely, as to why almost all of them are wearing something around their right ankle, a padded looking “protection” of some sort, or a place to conceal something, maybe a knife? We are left guessing as the answer we receive from the commander, a captain, is that it it is to protect the knee (just the right knee, mind you, and yet so far from the target)!!
13:45 on route 55, the first of many blue Police is seen. This one has pulled over a car bearing Israeli license plates (yellow) and police are questioning a couple of young men. All this before the gas station and the junction to Alfei Menashe.
At the junction, at the turnoff to the settlement, an armored blue police Hummer.
On the road leading to the Security Barrier and to Alfei Menashe, we see that more Bedouin shacks have been pulled down, the homes of many human beings now a mere pile of rubble. Yet, signs of life: on our return from Gate 1360, at 14:00. The green school bus is letting off the elementary school kids that we usually see at the Habla agricultural gate.
Once again, the gate on the “Israeli” side of the Separation barrier is open, but the many gates on the other side are firmly locked. As we peer across the Separation Barrier, we spy a flag waving in the breeze, high atop the opposite hill. It’s not been there before: yes, it’s the Palestinian flag, and there are many more that we now observe in the village below, flying from private homes, sometimes three at a time.
14:10 “Welcome to Eliahu Crossing Point” shouts a new sign in three languages. There is much action at this new and enlarged checkpoint which has been privatized and seems to be run by the same company as at Irtah (Sha’ar Efraim – same uniforms). The welcome is made manifest by Border Police and blue Police, working in tandem, stopping many cars coming from Israel proper. Note: MW should stop and monitor here in the future.
No prize for guessing: more blue Police, and we note that Israeli cars (yellow license plates) bearing Palestinian Israelis -- women with hijabs -- have been stopped. We should probably monitor here in the future too.
Nabi Elias and Azzun both display Palestinian flags and bunting, and there are flags also alongside Route 55, except in the areas of settlements where the blue and white flag flies as if it’s Israeli Independence Day (which usually falls in May)! More Palestinian flags at the junction of the road going to Ariel, via Immanuel, more in Funduk, Israeli flags outside Quedumim, Palestinian flags at Jit village, Israeli flags at Jit Junction and again at the Junctions of Routes 57 and 60…..These observations clearly deserve a graph or a more graphic description than mere words….
14:45 Shavei Shomron
An armored blue police Hummer, one blue policeman, one solider. The policeman is crudely brusque and commanding, “Turn around and get out…..this is Area A, only security and the army can come here.”
On question: what is the blue Israeli police doing guarding checkpoints today in cahoots with the army?
Here there are not only Palestinian flags but tee shirts and a flag bearing “Palestine 194 UN.”A small crowd of men is absorbed in watching, on the television, Abu Mazen’s joyous return to the Muquata in Ramallah. People are happy although the food delivery man filling the coolers with salads (Israeli salads) mentions that he was beaten by Border Police last Wednesday in Huwwara, and others confirmed rumors of Palestinians being fined for bearing Palestinian flags on their cars. During our whole shift, we saw only one such flag on a car, but many dozens on houses and along roadways.
We can’t help but note that Area A which has not figured prominently on signs in the past couple of years seems to have appeared once again on these red signs, often fixed to large concrete boulders. No soldiers visible at Anabta, and the next flags spotted were at Avne Hefetz (Israeli settlement).
The trunk of the car is checked by a gaggle of military police people, and other than a new brightly colored canvas shelter for soldiers guarding the Tulkarm exit checkpoint, northing else to report.
15:35 Irtah (Sh’ar Efraim)
Here we listen to stories of harassment and of waiting for hours to enter Israel in the early morning hours. We note that the packing case that has been placed on the far side of the turnstile leading back home for the Palestinian workers has been joined by a large load of building material, strategically placed in front of the turnstile – just a mere new obstacle! Dozens and dozens of men returning home, many bearing sweetly smelling guavas being sold by an enterprising driver at the entrance to the stop off area. One can’t help but notice the general bonhomie and good mood of the Palestinians. They have achieved much in the past week in spite of the continuation of this endless occupation.