Beit Iba, Huwwara, Mon 16.6.08, Afternoon
A phenomenon that is frequently repeated was also evident during
this shift. Female soldiers – who might be expected to have a moderating effect, to be more sensitive in their presence at the checkpoint – turn out to behave in a stereotypically masculine manner: rudeness, aggressiveness, impudence and force for its own sake.
As long as the checkpoints exist it is necessary, at least, to teach the young soldiers that the checkpoints aren't their own private property, certainly not an arena in which they're able to show off how powerful they are, but rather a public place. As part of their job, they should behave with respect to everyone with whom they come into contact. Otherwise, they'll bring about the distorted view the world is shown by their behavior into Israeli society, along with the behavioral norms they acquired during military service
14:35 – 50 people in two lines in the pedestrian lanes, the regular line and the "humanitarian" line. There's a new DCO representative there – Wafed. One detainee in the pen. We ask why he's been detained, and the soldier tells us that he was fresh, dirtying the ground at the checkpoint. We asked how long he'd be detained; the soldier promised it wouldn't be long. He was released after 25 minutes.
14:50 – Light traffic at the vehicle checkpoint – about six in each direction. I timed how long it took to exit – 20 minutes.
In the other line a porter waits patiently until three soldiers arrive. They examine three melons, a small fan and two small sacks, and release him. A taxi arrives, on the way to Nablus, with six male passengers. They get out, and the dog is ready to check the taxi. I stand about 6 meters away. The dog handler – a small female soldier with a long ponytail – strides over to me, trying to appear masculine, and asks me: "What's your name?" I replied, "And what's your name?", but she refused to answer, saying "It doesn't matter. So long as you're standing here, they're not going anywhere." Her answer in fact annoyed me. Even if she wanted to ask me to move back, why didn't she ask directly, instead of using the passengers to threaten me. I answered: I moved over here exactly because I wanted to see what was happening to the taxi and the passengers. She repeated her threat. I replied angrily, reproaching her for employing the power she was given against helpless Palestinians, using women older than she, who did nothing to her. She should be ashamed.
She left and started working with the dog, who went into the trunk, the back seat, the front seat, climbed over the seats, and ten minutes later checking was finished. In the meantime I moved away, in the direction of the pedestrian lane, and watched from a distance.
15:30 All the pedestrians in the entry lane are checked. About ten people, most of them looking very tired, like wretched laborers, waiting to be checked a few meters away from the window. They almost never used to check people coming in to Nablus. At Huwwara there are no checks at all of people coming in, and anyone may enter. Why isn't it dangerous to let people come into Nablus at Huwwara without being checked, but it is dangerous at Beit Iba?
The god of the checkpoints has the answers.
16:00 At the entrance to the pedestrian lane a group of youths grin at us: "Welcome to Palestine" [in English].