Machsom Watch- an Israeli women organization, that deals with one of the most severe aspects of the occupation- restrictions on the Palestinians freedom of movement.
We set out to film at Beit Furik. On the face of it, what could be more straightforward? But what do we film when we film a roadblock? Where does the roadblock begin? Where does it end?
Does it begin- at the queue to the first revolving gate where wretched people stand obediently waiting silently for the soldier at the inspection post to notice them, to enable them to pass and go through their inspection, and does it end three revolving gates later, as they hasten towards Nablus?
Does it begin- at the improvised cab stations, from the one which heads to Beit Furik and the other one to Beit Dajan, where the drivers while away their days waiting for the trickle of residents passing the checkpoint on foot who need to drive a distance of four kilometres into the village, for three shekels each?
Or perhaps the roadblock begins- at Osama's coffee stand, who hasn't left his village for seven years because Israel refuses to issue him a Palestinian ID and he is a displaced person in his own village where he was born. Osama and his family subsist on the pennies that the taxi-drivers give him for the coffee. There are many others like Osama, who are also trapped in their villages without a way out.
Or perhaps the roadblock begins- at the home of the old lady in Beit Dajan, whose daughter and grandchildren who live only four km away, at Salem. Years have passed since she had last seeing them, because Salem Residents are not allowed to pass the roadblock and she hasn't the strength anymore to undertake the journey herself.
Or perhaps the roadblock begins- at Beit Furik at the home of the four month old baby with heart disease, whose parents live in constant fear that they might find themselves standing in front of a closed roadblock, while he is fluttering in their hands.
Or perhaps it begins- in the heart of every Palestinian in the West Bank, who, with every delay, maltreatment and indignity at the endless roadblocks obstructing them, accumulate hatred,
Or perhaps it actually begins- with the Samaria regiment commander, the zone commander of Samaria and Judea, the head of central commands or the Chief of Staff? Who imprison a people in the name of security, and perhaps it rolls down to the whole chain of commands until it reaches the soldier who stands at the roadblock, executing obediently orders over which a black flag hangs.
And it begins- at Elon Moreh, Itamar and Har Bracha, and with the settlers on whose behalf the government erects the roadblocks so that they could live like the lords of the land not theirs, plunder another plot of land or tree, continuing at the march of folly of us all, who do not see the Palestinians living alongside us as human beings, while we are being dragged into depths reserved for the darkest regimes, and to a war that has been continuing for 40 years.
And perhaps it begins- with the government, with the minister of defence, or with his deputy that has already admitted that he doesn't believe in the existence of roadblocks, but then publicly declared that this is a wonderful situation because there are merely three hundred temporary roadblocks (??) and twenty five permanent roadblocks.
And perhaps it begins- with the Israeli public opinion enamoured with military solutions, especially those which provide it with a stunning victory, but even after seven wars and thousands of military confrontations it fails to see that in wars there are only losers.
One fine day we set out to film at the Beit Furik checkpoint. The atrocity was there, but only its faint shadow was captured by the camera lens.
For the attention of the humanitarian center
Congratulations, Just Married.
When we arrived at the roadblock we met a group of nicely dressed people on their way from Ramallah to Nazareth to attend the wedding of a relative in Nazareth. The soldiers made a gesture and agreed to open the gate for the bride and her guests so that they wouldn't have to crowd in the turnstiles. But it was a pity that those who are in charge of issuing the permits weren't so generous. The guests, who were invited to the ceremony that was about to begin at six o'clock, didn't receive their permits until seven that evening. Even the bride's permit to remain inside Israeli territory, was restricted for only two weeks, and only between seven in the morning until five in the afternoon (Qalandiya 29.4).
A wedding at Beit Furik:
On Wednesday 9.5.07, a resident of Beit Furik that was to marry a resident of Nablus, wanted to arrange the permits for the passage of the bride's family on Friday, the day of the marriage. The family said they had asked the Palestinians DCL and were told it was impossible. As there wasn't much time and in order that they won't have to go back and forth to the Israeli DCL, we gave the ID numbers of all the relatives (the brides parents, her sisters and cousins- 17 people) to the army's humanitarian center (Neta), for the necessary coordination.
On Friday 11.5.07 at 16:30- the bride's family arrived at the roadblock and the soldiers didn't permit them to pass, they said that no one had coordinated this with them. The humanitarian center promised to deal with the situation and later said that things were being taken care of, but time was running out.
At 18:00- The DCL commander promised he would send an officer to the roadblock. In the mean while the groom, his cousin and everyone else who spoke Hebrew, called and asked for mercy ("do me a favor, do something").
At 18:35- The celebrators were told that they could pass, one by one… it took two hours. Indeed, that was a fine coordination.
At 19:45- The humanitarian center notified us that everyone had passed.