'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 15.6.08, Afternoon
The commander is helpful and opens the gate immediately when we ask, both on arrival and exit.
Three soldiers present, one Palestinian who insists he came through legally in the morning, that he has a permit, and wants to return now to his village near Nablus. The story doesn’t jibe, however, the permit is for another gate, and the soldiers insist he has to go back to Jubara and make his way homewards from there (how, legally, is not clear and is of no concern to the soldiers who know only how to do what they are supposed to do).
The makeshift new large stone barriers, strung half way across the roadway a couple of weeks ago, have been put on the side of the road -- well, more or less on the side of the road. Passage is, therefore, clear – except for the inevitable checking.
We are greeted, ironically, in Arabic and one of the soldiers, not the commander wonders what we write and why, for surely, the situation never changes, “After all, it’s the same week in, week out.” Just then, two yellow taxis, bearing at least eight or ten people, are stopped; all IDs are taken and brought to the two non communicative soldiers up in the crow’s nest. All IDs are called in over the phone, and both taxis released within five minutes. A third taxi is subjected to the same treatment, all three going southwards. No checking at all for vehicles coming from the south.
Two cars, coming from Tulkarm, are now thoroughly searched, as is a truck bearing the EU insignia: trunks are opened, hoods lifted up and peered into. We ask why. “We find things…. but we can’t tell you what.”
The line of vehicles coming from Tulkarm numbers about 15, and remains steady although checking flows smoothly. No line at all in the other direction. The commander asks for no photos, but is not insistent. The DCO jeep arrives as we leave. We hear from the coffee/fruit seller (but today he has neither) and from the man selling sneaker socks that, this morning, the regular coffee man, whose decorative coffee container is usually seen on the far side of the checkpoint, had his coffee spilled and his documents strewn all over the roadway by the soldiers on duty: needs to be confirmed.
17:20 On the way to Qalqiliya
Azzun is wide open, the horrendous earth mounds blocking access to the town are no more. But for how long will that last? We’ve seen this before, and then the return of the same blockade.
The tire swing moves in the welcome breeze by the checkpoint where what little traffic there is flows freely in both directions, although all ingoing Israeli cars (yellow license plates) are stopped and documents checked. .