Beit Furik, Huwwara, Jaba (Lil), Za'tara (Tapuah), Sat 21.6.08, Morning
Translation: Ruth F.
A shift of six and a half hours in the unbearable heat, and the usual routine of the ever lasting occupation which never ceases to surprise and horrify.
As soon as we parked our car, took our thing and locked the doors, the checkpoint commander came to us, he was a reserve soldier "with out a face". He has sun glasses on, the kind that security people have on and through which you can't see the "person". "Who are you?", we showed him our badge and said "We are from Machsom Watch". " Go away- it's dangerous here and I am responsible for your safety". "This is our shift, we came to document what we will see, we didn't speak with anyone, we didn't bother anyone, and we don't understand why you are trying to get rid of us". "Because I said so". "But we haven't been in the army for 62 years, and by what right are you sending us off from a public place?", "This isn't a public place", "Really? And who are all these people standing in the parking lot- aren't they a public?", You only want to cause trouble", "It's too bad that this is your approach, lets put a stop to this conversation and each of us will go on doing what he has to". And so it was.
There were 28 cars from the north. When we arrived at 6:45 they were making preparations for the changing of the shift and their breakfast. The reserve soldiers were in no rush. A phone call to the Humanitarian Center made things go much faster. The average passing time was of 12 minutes. A police officer in blue uniforms was busy with a physical inspection of a Palestinian. Every peace of paper was taken out of his pocket, even his wallet was examined. Three other people were sitting in the car from which he came out of. The process took time and we couldn't understand what was going on. We got nervous- the situation seemed alarming. There the police officer and the Palestinian had a conversation- it seemed most unpleasant and at the end of it the man hands and legs were handcuffed, then they put him in the police car and he was taken away. We didn't manage to get the phone number of the family to inform them. There were more detainees sitting on the side walk, they were released and their IDs given back to them. One ID was missing- we "took risk" and walked over to one of them and persuaded them not to leave until the ID was found- we were glade to find out that we were write.
We were about to leave when we saw an ambulance and many bicycle rides on the western side of the junction. We were worried since someone was heart and so we went over to see what had happened. It was a bicycle tour for peace and brotherhood that started that morning heading out of Qalqilia to Jerico. The bicycle riders were happy to talk to us- their Hebrew was excellent- they were interested in knowing who we were and what we were doing. They paid us many complements and words of encouragement- as did we. And then the soldiers arrived to put a stop to the joy. "Go over there", "why?" , " your not allowed to stand here", "really? By who's order?", "My commander's", " Maybe I should try calling your commander and ask him about this order", "You are writing about military secrets in your note book", "What Military secrets? Which secrets?, the ones that all those passing here can see? do you hear what you are saying? Military secrets in a public place? Why don't you enter our site and see what kind of military secrets we publish there", "You are scum- everyone know about you", "I demand that you step away from me. I will not have a conversation with you with such a language, and I'm really not going to listen to it coming from a boy that might as well as my great grandson. I wonder what your parents must think about the way you talk- or your wife and kids". And then another reserve soldier barged into the conversation- He was a tall and scary man, and we decided that we couldn't write what he said. We left.
There were plenty of people on their way to Nablus, and few passing south. The pace was rather quick and people said it was a good day. A' the checkpoint commander ignored us throughout the whole shift, we didn't exchange a word. By the "humanitarian spot" sat a young man in the shade, in front of him was the Israeli cab that he drove. From time to time he went over to the checkpoint commander and pleaded to him. We decided to intervene and ask what was going on. I appeared that he had been collecting workers at the taxi station at Beit Furik and took them to work using the Madison road. He had been detain for four hours. The workers had been released after three ("it's allowed" said the DCO). We tried explaining to him what his "crime" was. The man was stunned. After all there is no sign, how could I have known? We called the DCO and he was immediately released. When the DCO representative arrived we explained to him what was allowed and what was forbidden - he said he would look in to it as he was new.
It was terribly hot and there was no one at the checkpoint. Why? did everyone pass? Where were all the cab drivers? What was going on? The only driver that was there said that it was a quiet day. We wanted to go to the village and see what was going on there, but on our way we saw a BP vehicle and decided to head back. The checkpoint was still empty. There were two or three cars coming from Nablus, and no one was heading into the city.
Nothing new, everything was very quiet. Our guest was shocked from the sigh. "This is how these people live?" she asked. "It's horrible, such humiliation". What could I replay?
We decided to head back to Jerusalem. But when we arrived at Huwwara village almost in fromntof "our" grocer, we saw two military jeeps and a vehicle of the blue police. The vehicles surrounded a privet black car and seven BP soldiers together with three cops, delt with a young man who seemed to be in his early twenties. People gathered around- but were in a safe distance- they were the owners of the shops and people who were just passing by. We stopped to see what was going on. When we arrived it seemed they were pushing the detainee, but when they saw us they stopped with the physical violence. We obviously didn't get any explanation, but it appeared that the man was accused of driving a stolen car. It is important to point out that the car didn't have any license plats.
We asked ourselves why it was handled by the blue police and the IDF if it was all happening in Palestine- but there is no satisfying replay to that. We managed to find out who the person was and to report to his family. That's also something. Our guest was amazed- this wasn't how she pictured life there.
The entrance to Ma'alee Levona:
We thought we might head home without anything else getting in our way. We were wrong. At the entrance to the road leading to Ma'alee Levona was a long line of cars. A "flying" checkpoint that wasn't about to take off. We stopped to see what was going on. We stood from a distance and parked far away from the road.
A soldier immediately came to us and tried sending us away. We wondered whether it was the incredible heat or was it a conspiracy among the soldiers. We of course refused and kept observing at what was going in.
The inspection was very severe and the line was long.
At last they said to us that the "settlers were running amok". "Today? We didn't see any settlers- it's Saturday today- if the settlers are running amok why are you stopping the Palestinians?
Does that make any sense to you?". We called the DCO and that apparently helped. After a long and hot half an hour the checkpoint had dissolved and this time we really did head home.
The line at Leel was especially long. We didn't take our time there, but informed to the Humanitarian Center. We didn't stay to look at Atarot- we'll do it next week.
We returned home tired, frustrated but most of al angry.