Beit Iba, Wed 16.1.08, Afternoon
The important part of this report is the stubborness and heartlessness of the commander. We have already seen commanders , especially the older men, reservists who solve problems. But this was not the case here.
14.30 The Eliyahu passage. At the entrance to Israel a line of 30 cars and at the exit just us.
14.35 At the Ayal checkpoint. 18 cars at the entrance to Qalqiliya. Maybe because of the change of shift
there is a long line. The reservists who have come in hasten the passage. Amongst the cars entering are Israeli cars which evidently have papers. At the exit from Qalqiliya there are 10 cars.Azzun…no checkpoint.Opposite Kedumim on the main road a long line of Palestinian cars are waiting to pass. They have been delayed because of the efforts of the police to remove a Jewish outpost. On the roof of the red house are people… a TV crew and police. None of these have the time to look at the line of Palestinian cars which is lengthening on the road. (Because of the fight against the settlers the Palestinians are delayed).
15.15 Beit Iba. We photographed the red sign forbidding Israelis to enter areas governed by the Palestinian authorities. It is far from the checkpoint near Deir Sharaf. Everyone passes it because it is not legal. It is not at the border of the Palestinian area. This should be brought to the attention of someone and maybe a complaint should be made. Next to the checkpoint there is also such a sign and everyone moves slowly and determinedly into the area under Israeli rule. It is not clear whom this ruling is for because all civilians and members of human rights know about it.On the way to the car lane we met Halil who works as a porter and promised to bring him clothes next time we come. At the checkpoint itself are 3 volunteers, two from Norway and one from Sweden whom we have met before. They say that only one turnstile is working and everyone is crowded in one line. Amazingly when we arrive another turnstile is opened. But the only way for people to pass to the second line is by pushing and shouting “back.”
Next to the checking booth is a woman soldier carrying out the body check. Once again a woman checks men. On the other side where parcels are checked a male soldier stands with a drawn rifle.. The volunteers ask if there is always a soldier with a drawn rifle and we explained to them why. The commander of the checkpoint asks us why the volunteers are here and if they have nothing else to do. We explained that they are idealists and that they go, in their own free time, to places where human rights are being violated. He looked at me as though I was from Mars and did not continue.
The story of the tough and heartless commander whose mother is proud of his being a combat soldier follows. When we got to the checkpoint we saw a young man being sent to the back of the line and it immediately became apparent that he was being kept back because he forgot his ID. His mother with her sick granddaughter in her arms and another woman were waiting for him. Tammie spoke to them and said that we would do our best. We asked the commander what the problem was and it turned out that in the Palestinian ID his name had been written on the space for "religion" and his religion, Moslem, where his name should have been. The commander is sure that the young man has forged his document and has summoned the police. Only they will decide. Someone tries to suggest that it may have been the mistake of the typist but nothing moves the commander. This is his job….to stop anyone suspicious. The fact that the boy’s mother is standing….there is no place to sit…..in the mud and cold with a sick child means nothing to him. He says to her that she should go home and leave her son there. He will come home on his own. When? How? That does not bother him. It is freezing cold and the child is not warmly covered. But she is not prepared to leave her son to our forces. She phones her husband who arrives from Habla half an hour later and shows the commander his permit to pass and that of his son but this still does not persuade the commander. Forgery is a crime. The father who speaks Hebrew well and is a peace activist tries in every way to persuade him but his words fall on deaf ears. We all wait for the police to come and save the situation as it is obvious that they will free him but they do not arrive. We phone the centre, Naomi, but even the centre can do nothing when a crime is involved. The police do not arrive and do not answer the phone. The police are busy with the settlers at Kedumim and the Palestinian family can wait. In the meantime a man who has come through from Kedumim comes to us and says that on the road is a procession of Palestinian cars which are being held up because of the evacuation of the outpost and the children of the settlers are throwing stones at them. The drivers are not allowed to move and get away from the stone throwers but they are receiving no protection. The police do nothing. We try to help by phone but do not know what happens.Tammie tries again to speak to Rodi at the DCO about our young man and he again says the police are on their way. It is already dark and very cold but the cold does not melt hardheartedness. The commander carries out his duties with great persistence. When Tammie asks him if he thinks that his mother would have deserted him he says that his mother is proud of him because he is a combat soldier.We realized that our presence was doing nothing to help this family and we gave the father our phone number so as to let us know what was happening and at 17.45 we left with heavy hearts.
At 20.00 that night we received a call that they were at home and thanked us for our support. We should come to visit them. That his wife especially thanks us for our support. The police did NOT come. The commander who had not known to solve the problem during the day had also not known what to do at night and had released them. Maybe he will tell this to his mother.