'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 27.1.08, Afternoon
The "Stupidity of Occupation" deserves an annual report on its own,
since there are endless ways of identifying stupidity in general, and
the stupidity of this Occupation in particular. "The difference
between genius and stupidity is that genius has its
limits." "Stupidity has a knack of getting its way." "As if there
were safety in stupidity alone." "Stupidity is evil waiting to
happen." "Always you have to contend with the stupidity of men"– and
of the Occupation.
The usual blue police car and the usual maze to get through the
plastic barricades into the OPT, as at Qalqiliya. We're not stopped
as we head towards the gate and up to the village of Jubara. On the
other hand, on our return, a soldier calls to us to stop, comes over,
as we stop in the middle of the highway, and tells us off: we're not
to go up to the village without telling him. "We see a car going up
the hill and don't know who it is" (the flag is too indistinct?…)
As we arrive, we see two soldiers running, guns in hand, from their
positions at the crossroads. They stop a horse and cart, preventing
it from going southwards and make it turn back towards a group of
three men who've walked, on foot from the village, across Gate 753
and are also wanting to go southwards towards Qalqiliya. It gradually
becomes clear that the men are related, and while the soldiers shout,
in particular the sergeant commander, the men tell their story. A
horse (and cart) are stolen, they look for it, are told that it's in
the fields of the Jubara area, and they find it and now want to get
back home. All of them have magnetic cards, all of them have permits,
but no way can they go through the village of Jubara, which, as we
all know, is a ghetto for residents of the village only. How they got
into the village in the first place is anybody's guess. But the Ar-Ras
soldiers don't care. All they know is that these men can't proceed
and must go back to Jubara. The oldest of them balks, says neither he
nor his relatives are youngsters (true), and creates a sit down
strike of one as the others proceed back towards the village.
While this is going on, the soldier in the crow's nest receives
telephone instructions. The soldier left at the crossroads checkpoint
is on no account to carry out vehicle checking on his own. So, where
there was no line of waiting vehicles from Tulkarm a few minutes ago,
a line now begins to grow.
The horse and cart and driver are at the gate, and the two soldiers
there seem to take pity on the horse, giving the man a loaf of sliced
white bread (or is it for him?). The horse is delighted to begin to
feed on the fresh green grass from which spring growth begins to
peek. The other three men join the driver of the cart and all wonder
what to do. They can't be in Jubara, are not residents, have no
permits to go through. And yet the soldiers care not at all that they
are there, just as long as the men don't bother the nature of the
rules at their checkpoint. Since they have magnetic cards and permits
to enter Israel, the idea is that they go to Taibeh, behind the Green
Line, in Israel proper, and get to Qalqiliya from there, as if
that's permitted. But both the soldiers and the Palestinians know
that there's a way (just a very long way round). In other words, the
army turns its back on this and sticks to its rules!
Miracle of miracles, no line to Tulkarm, no line from Tulkarm. All
moves quickly at the checkpoint when, suddenly, we spy a blue police
jeep arrive near the parking place for taxis. It places itself in a
position that it can, and does, stop Palestinian vehicles, and police
harassment takes the place of army harassment – Occupation. We hear
the policeman near the jeep call over to his mate who's stopped a
black sedan, traveling to Tulkarm, to ask whether the men in the back
are wearing seat belts. We already know the end of this story….
En route to Qalqilya
Shvut Ami (meaning "the return of our people") outpost
No return -- this week. We see but one person wandering around, the
second floor remains a wreck, all seems calm – today.
A truckload full of closely packed sheep makes its way into the
village – the concrete blocks set far apart to create a wide roadway.
15:45 -- there are at least 12 vehicles in line towards Qalqiliya,
but the reservists on duty handle them swiftly and almost casually.
The Israeli vehicles, not many, are checked to see if permits are in
order, one soldier calling out numbers as the other checks a sheet of
paper. "Will we get good marks?" one of the soldiers asks cheerfully
as he sees us taking notes! He goes on to tell something interesting
that they have received instructions "not to make trouble for the
Palestinians." Interesting, an instruction that has either been made
up on the spot or an instruction that is followed nowhere else!
We go to the seam line gate, expecting it to be open at 16:00. A
group of men and a woman wait there, some drinking coffee in the
house provided by the Catholic Relief Services and the Mennonites.
Evidently, the gate will only be open at 17:00. Of course, no such
indication on the gate, whose yellow sign has long, long ago
forgotten all traces of such markings. How people are meant to glean
such information is beyond us, but the greengrocer informs us further
that the gate(s) are now open from 17:00-18:15, and that the change
in opening hour was based on the wishes of its users. A user friendly
occupation?! Or, more likely, the lengthening of daylight hours.