Deir Sharaf, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jubara (Kafriat), Sun 4.3.12, Afternoon
One of the forgotten heroes of the endless conflict in these parts is Sari Nusseibeh, the “philosopher king” who has written about some of the roles he has played, or had cast upon him in “Once upon a Country.” We, with our monitoring at the checkpoints littered about what should be the nation state of Palestine, have noted, like Sari, that “humiliation” is the Occupation’s most powerful weapon. But there is another observation that also rings true to those of us who have gone to, and stood at, checkpoints, the understanding, no, the observation that, be it she or he, Israeli or Palestinian, each is “driven by fear and terror, totally unaware of the condition of the other…. the Jew seeks space to continue living, while the Arab defends his space to the death,” even when defense, as we most often observe, week in, week out, is rarely more than expressions of love for the land – another expression of steadfastness and perseverance - “sumoud” together with binding ties of home and belonging.
The weather continues to be terrible, and there is a profusion of rain and mud, wind and cold. Earlier, at our visit to the nursery, where a group of men were huddled around a fire made of avocado branches and other woods, we heard of two recent Seam Zone incidents: in the recent storm a soldier, a reservist, entered the schoolchildren’s bus at Habla and ordered the children to descend – in the pouring rain. He repeatedly addressed the young children as “chutzpanim” (cheeky). A Palestinian man who was escorting the children rebuked the soldier with the comment that he was the “chutzpan” and possibly had learnt the behavior in his own home. The woman military police there, seeing the young children standing in the rain, and hearing the altercation, eventually told the soldier to back off. Meanwhile, on a similar wintry weather day, typical of the ones we’ve been having lately, the shoe checking sensor at Gate 109 had been turned up to its full volume. The first pair of shoes checked through started a beep. All the Palestinians in line were ordered to remove their shoes and cross barefoot through the mud and rain.
Overall, a huge amount of disrespect is doled out to Palestinians, children, women and men alike on a day in day out basis. It stems, we’re told, not just from training in the army but “from the home.”
The checking of tractors, pony carts and humans is slow, the reservists taking their sweet time and making sure to check every animal or machine drawn vehicle.
14:00 Route 55
A new scene on the hill above Ramot Gilad: more white caravans, expanding the illegal outpost, telephone or electric wires, of course, included. And heedless to the rest of the world’s chorus of disapproval. More new caravans noted, also gleaming white, on the hill above Enav, the settlement on Route 57, by Anabta.
15:00 Deir Sharaf
Plenty of action here: Palestinians and Palestinian Israelis going in or out of Nablus in private cars, or regular and even tour buses. Others, wrapped in red and white checked kaffiyah, used as scarves to keep out the rain and cold, enjoy the freshly grilled meats at the rather gory roadside butcher shops,
16:00 Irtah (Sha’ar Efraim)
The guard insists on looking at our IDs, has never heard of MachsomWatch. A large crowd of returning Palestinian workers, many carrying panniers of strawberries, a few carrying sacks of oranges. At the torn down entryway, leading, eventually, homewards for those lucky Palestinians with work permits, there’s now a brand new turnstile, with the usual minimal space for getting through with anything being hand carried. We are immediately called by a gun toting guard and told that we are forbidden to be where we’re standing, or, rather, where we have been standing.
A group of men stop us, saying how bad it is at 4:00 in the morning when they are trying to get to work, and the line is long and unordered. Just yesterday, two men were beaten up and had to be taken to hospital. We gave the men the MachsomWatch card, telling them to call the MachsomWatch number. Frankly, with the guards we encountered today, anything is possible. It is clear that MachsomWatch is not known to the present shift of civilian guards.