'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Jit, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 20.1.08, Afternoon
"What's real, what's not" is an axiom that describes much of what we
witness in the OPT, week in, week out. The "reality" is what we, as
eyewitnesses, observe and try to describe, while the doubt, even when
the facts don't warrant it, is created by the planting, over and over
again, of the stories that don't appear, or of the silence that
permeates the media insofar as items about Palestinians and their non-
stop humiliation and harassment are concerned.
12:50 Habla (on the seam line)
The four reservists are relaxed but know nothing about when the gate
or, to be more accurate, "gates" are again open after they have
closed them at 13:00. "I've no idea, but I can give you the phone
number of the supervisor so you can ask him." Of course, nothing is
written, but somewhere or other, the times are laid down as law, the
Occupier's law, and this creates a reality that everybody around here
already knows. Yet to the local farmers the reservists now minding
the gate are a great relief, they thank god for them, as they are
What a difference: here the reservist major immediately tells us,
without our saying a word, in English, "I'm not allowed to talk to
you." We respond, in Hebrew, that we had no intention of talking to
him, and a question about the blue police jeep standing across the
roadway, the numerous (at least eight) soldiers at the checkpoint
remains unasked as we observe the long line of vehicles coming out of
Qalqiliya, being checked oh so slowly, and the equally long line of
vehicles entering Qalqiliya, being checked, oh so slowly. Another
soldier saunters over to us to tell us to move back (behind the
invisible white line), but he's overridden by the major, and we stand
unmoved, as the latter makes an Israeli car (yellow license plates)
turn round – no permit to enter the city.
Trying to enter Qalqiliya is a pickup truck, pulled over to the side,
and there are two policemen and four Palestinians standing around it.
The policemen prod the tires, look at numbers, peer under the hood,
cross the road to their jeep, bring the men over to it, return to the
pickup truck, and on and on. Such is the manner in which this charade
is played out for 25 minutes! One of the four passengers from the
pickup truck tells us that it's a government vehicle, belonging to
the local regional council, but the police believe it's stolen. "Who
knows what's real?!"
14:25 -- the men collect their belongings from the pickup truck and
make their way, on foot, across the checkpoint as one of the
policemen gets into the truck and drives off, in the opposite
direction from Qalqiliya, to "have it checked."
The lines of vehicles trying to get in or out of Qalqiliya remain the
same as the jeep with four soldiers drives off, leaving four to
continue their unhurried checking.
From Qalqilya to Jit
Azzun is open, the concrete blocks left on the sides, leaving a wide
access route for vehicles.
Shvut Ami (meaning "the return of our people") outpost
Arutz Sheva (Channel Seven) which identifies with what goes on in the
OPT as the right to rebuild the land of "Judea and Samaria," as in
biblical times, tells of "the expulsion of Jews from Shvut Ami" on
16.01.08, and of "rebuilding the town" (sic). Today, all we see is
that the single house at the outpost is, more or less, a one storey
house again, meaning that the second floor has been destroyed; that
there is one man in a hooded sweat shirt on the roof, and two settler
youths throwing stones at him and he at them. Militant posters, in
English and Hebrew, still dot the landscape.
Jit Junction: no checkpoint
In the darkness, there's an endless slow parade of vehicles in either
direction, both to and from Tulkarm; as the streams approach the
soldiers, lights are turned off for soldiers to better view the
occupants. Nobody is stopped, IDs not checked.
Flashing lights on the roadway, and of the police car, standing at
the entry to the OPT, mark the presence of the usual police, stopping
and checking every car going in. Although we're waved on at the main
checkpoint, where there is only a short line at this hour, a soldier
comes over as we open the gate to go up to the village. Every vehicle
going back into Israel proper is stopped.
Darker, but less cold here , and although there are few vehicles in
either direction, taxis, coming from Tulkarm are stopped, and IDs
checked by the soldiers here, who, unlike at Anabta, do have
Everybody and every vehicle stopped. One of the four soldiers
complains that we have inched forward, returning from Ar-Ras, crossing
the separation barrier without his go ahead. He refuses to tell us
why four people, three men and a woman, standing and waiting, are
doing just that. The commander pushes him aside, overrides him and
informs that they may have forged IDs, and that they are being