Beit Iba, Sun 30.12.07, Afternoon
The Occupation, personified by its army, has numerous sides to it,
with today's salient feature being its association to a predator. A
predator is sometimes active in seeking out and attacking its prey.
Case in point: usually, after night falls, the army preys on the main
cities in the OPT as well as each and every village hamlet, and then
proceeds to capture and consume a succession of prey. At other times,
the predator adopts more of a passive, ambush strategy, waiting for
its prey to come forward – at the permanent checkpoints, certainly at
the rolling checkpoints, set up at random, often just a few
kilometers from a permanent installation, at the agricultural gates,
open at certain hours of convenience to the occupier. In all these
instances, the soldiers, like Walt Whitman's "noiseless patient
spider" weave their web, set their trap and wait for their prey to
come to them.
Checkpoint free, and unmanned
13:40 Shavei Shomron, we're duty bound to report, now sports a
gate of many colors (the gate that allows passage to Homesh but which
forbids entry to the nearby village of Sabastiya and onward, once upon
a time, Route 60, to Jenin).
14:20 Beit Iba. We've already been told by one of the Hawwash Brothers that it's bad
at the checkpoint today, but with the customary Palestinian "sumud,"
(stoic resignation): "After 7 years, what's one day?"
The quarry is working in full force, noise and dust, the mess of
vehicles approaching the new and improved checkpoint is just that:
several waiting taxis now park as near as possible, tying up access
for everything trying to approach the checkpoint, including an
ambulance. As usual, it's all sorted out in a few minutes, no loud
horns, no raucous shouting.
14:25 . A passage is cleared for the ambulance which then has to
wait, two or three minutes at the wide open lanes of the checkpoint
where the soldiers take their own, sweet time as they search the
inside of a Taneeb minibus. 8-10 vehicles at this time from Deir
Sharaf, and, on the other side, we see that another two ambulances
are waiting and waiting.
14:40. A Red Cross jeep also waits and waits. On the far distant
side of the checkpoint, a semi- trailer has had all its large
black "cat" bags offloaded, and eight large boxes stand around for
the next half-hour before one of the donkey cart porters takes them
towards Deir Sharaf.
It's impossible to get near the three detainees since the detention
compound, one of the relics of the old, unimproved checkpoint, is way
behind several concrete barriers, behind the turnstiles, etc. The
commander, Y., tells us that two of the men there were
caught "creating balagan," (havoc), trying to go round the
checkpoint, one is wanted by the Shabak (General Security Service),
but something seems not to correlate in this proffered information,
since a few minutes later, Y. is seen talking to one of the men, who
is released. And then there were two.
At the pedestrian checkpoint, the new arrangement now demonstrates a
new slow down, a new example of inefficiency added to the usual
harassment. There's a long line of young men, 20-25 waiting behind
the first turnstile, from Nablus. They are buzzed through one or two
at a time, made to put everything on a table or on a board by the
newly installed manometer. Often there are three soldiers at the
checking table, including the commander, but it's the military police
(sporting a brand new, fancy, no longer orange, arm band) who shout
the loudest: "Take off your belts, take out your cellphones, money,
etc., etc." Sometimes jackets are demanded too, sometimes not. The
men's pockets are turned out, everything manhandled, the soldiers
taking everything out of briefcases and backpacks themselves as the
Palestinians are next made to pass through the manometer, but then
have to return for their things: rarely can one say about the
Occupation, "this is plain silly." No wonder things are worse today
than usual, but the army has ways of inventing things to make life
worse and worse!
A small boy, no more than four or five years old stands at the
checking table, waiting for his father to go through these
ignominious procedures. He waits and waits and watches and watches,
impassively. The father passes through the manometer, then comes back
to retrieve his little boy, the soldiers staring on, uncaring.
15:00. Pedestrians coming from Deir Sharaf are not checked.
On the other hand, the humanitarian line, from Nablus, which seems to
consist of men over the age of 45 as well the old and infirm (of whom there are
hardly any today), but many women and children, is long, and the
soldier at the humanitarian line booth checks them thoroughly and in a
desultory fashion. Who's in a hurry? Certainly not he! And, here,
too, a small child, this time a little girl, is made to witness the
humiliating procedure her mother is made to endure as the soldier
comes out of his humanitarian line booth and makes her unzip and
empty out a large holdall which contains a quantity of women's
clothing items, clearly for sale (labels attached). Everything is
strewn about in the dust as the soldier questions. The predator's behavior? stands above it all and looks
down, unblinking. Finally, the whole lot having been fondled, the
mother puts back her things, but can't do up the zipper, which a
kindly person in the line helps her with. Mother and daughter, father
and son, what do they tell their children? And what memories take
hold inside these young minds today and every other day on the line.