“Because they’re Jews and you’re not. That’s why.”
The entrances to Hizma have been blocked for two days.
Vehicles neither enter nor leave.
Officers and soldiers stand on guard day and night and the Border Police also comes and the Civil Administration shows up.
The soldiers blocked the main entrance with their bodies and lay a spiked barrier across the road. An ambulance on its way out remained stuck inside. I tried to enter, but “It’s a closed military area…there’s an incident…” and other lies and vacuous statements by an officer.
I don’t know whether the ambulance left or not because I’d stopped on the man road, which is dangerous, so I drove to the other side of the village, to the eastern entrance where there are auto repair shops and a gas station and unpaved roads. I thought I might be able to enter there – but no. There were even more soldiers and also a sign explaining the reason for the siege of the village.
In Hebrew translation:
“To area residents:
A minority among you is responsible for the disturbances that are the reason for this roadblock.
You must not cooperate with them!
Stop behaving in a manner which harms your lives.
For your own good, and to restore peace and quiet to your area, report any information about those disturbing public order and about their activities.
Telephone: 072 258 7990
Israel Defense Forces Headquarters”
Or, in brief – Wanted: Stool pigeons and collaborators
Hizma, which is bordered by the separation wall, by Pisgat Ze’ev to the south and the settlement of Adam creeping toward it from the north, is trapped in the pincers of the settlement project and the villagers, much of whose land has been expropriated, are also suffering the army’s harassment.
A few months ago we were told by a guy who’d proudly and enthusiastically returned from reserve duty about the “harassment” (his term) he and his colleagues were responsible for in the village.
In the light of all that, and the knowledge that, unfortunately, the village can expect only the worst in the future, and there’s no hope on the horizon, it’s no wonder they discharge their frustration and despair by throwing rocks at vehicles on the highway.
And during those same late afternoon hours, among all those who found themselves besieged in the village, was also a bus driver who lives in East Jerusalem who the previous day had brought his bus for repair to a garage in the village and when he came to get it wasn’t able to leave. The driver sat behind the wheel near the roadblock and waited. He also spent the night in the bus, waiting, “I’m not even from here…” he said, as if it was justifiable for someone who was from here to be a victim of collective punishment. But someone who isn’t – certainly not. The driver went from one uniformed person to the next and explained his problem to every soldier and particularly to every officer, the injustice he, in particular, the stranger, was suffering, but nothing. And when a Border Police officer arrived and the driver again got off the bus and explained and requested, and to strengthen his case said that a few hours earlier two Jews arrived and were allowed to enter, and went shopping in the village and came back and reached the roadblock and left without any problem, “Why were they allowed and not me?” he asked the officer,
“Because they’re Jews and you’re not. That’s why,” the officer replied.
And that’s really the whole truth. That’s really why.
And that same Border Police officer, who arrived about half an hour after me, whether or not because I didn’t do what they ordered me to and didn’t move back to where they told me to move, and because, to the soldiers’ displeasure, and particularly that of the officers, I took photographs, ordered his men to fold up the sign, the like of whose insolence I’d never seen, and he stored it in his vehicle and he left with the sign.
And the bus driver? Only later, when a white civil/military vehicle of the Civil Administration arrived and an officer emerged and the bus driver again explained and requested, perhaps the officer understood the absurdity in imprisoning someone who’s not from here and ordered the soldiers to let him go.
And the whole time, in the background, I saw a large advertisement high above one of the businesses that read, “Peace Car-Wash.” And I thought there wasn’t a more cynical combination of words, but later, when I read the army’s response to the question by Nir Hasson, the journalist from Ha’aretz, about the collective punishment imposed on the residents of Hizma, which was:
“In response to the question from ‘Ha’aretz” whether it was not a sweeping punishment imposed on all the village residents, the IDF responded that not all entrances to the village were blocked and that “the IDF does not carry out a policy of collective punishment.” (cf. link)
I understood the slope is slippery and we haven’t yet reached its bottom.