'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Sun 29.6.08, Afternoon
Spied on one porter's wagon at Beit Iba, in Hebrew, "Don't give up."
To whom addressed, we don't know. What we do grasp is that the phrase
has to do with perseverance and strength, with the adage not to quit,
and to keep moving – in spite of restrictions on the freedom of
Note: since we received a phone message while on our way to the OPT,
we did not stop at Qalqiliya, but went straight to Beit Iba.
16:15 -- we observe that much of the once pristine marshland has been
cleared, and shrubs and debris are piled high at one end, and we
wonder if a new giant terminal is in the making here. No doubt, we
will find out by and by!
As we arrive to stand at our usual spot, beneath the military lookout
tower, the soldier in the concrete stand nearest to the junction
shouts at us to cross the road, and so, for the first time, we take
our place, or attempt to do so, on the western side of the road. Very
little traffic going into Tulkarm, allowing this first soldier to make
phone calls on his mobile (the kind one overhears on public
transportation in Israel). The line from the city is endless, no end
Another one of the four reservists on duty here, now rushes over to us
and begins to harangue us non stop that we are in his way and
preventing him from doing his work. We note that he has his back to
the endless line of vehicles coming from Tulkarm, at least 30 of them.
Evidently, we are of more importance as he shrieks at us, seemingly
completely out of control, to move back, far from the checkpoint. "Of
course I know MachsomWatch, I'm from Jerusalem and know all about
human rights." This goes on for a few minutes until the commander
comes over, says not a word to us, but taps the soldier on the arm and
tells him to go back to his position, where he continues to do
nothing, often with his back to the line of vehicles waiting to come
A car coming from Tulkarm, with number plates bearing Arabic words is
stopped, and another soldier begins to examine all the papers as the
driver is pulled over to the side of the road. All checking stops.
After about five minutes of this soldier trying to understand papers
that are, obviously, in Arabic, the soldier calls to the commander,
"Don't stop checking the vehicles because of me." Vehicle checking
proceeds again, but we note the lack of authority or of influence of
the commander of this shift. The line of vehicles from Tulkarm has, of
16:30 -- about ten minutes later, a group of workers, carrying lunch
boxes, now empty, after a day's work, try to come through the
pedestrian walkway on their way home to Tulkarm. The soldier who
shouted at us makes them pirouette in front of him and now shouts at
them, "Lift up your shirts…. only one at a time," but the commander
from the checking position at the Tulkarm end of the checkpoint calls
back to him, "Do the whole group at one go," to which his underling
cries out, "So, why am I here?"
Other than having to show our IDs and being asked whether we have a
"permit" to go through the village to A-Ras, the soldier, also a
reservist, goes about his business to open the gate and, at the same
time, asks if we can help the Palestinian who's waiting at the gate,
wanting to go to his lands on the other side: his dilemma, a permit
that has run out and that won't be renewed. "Talk to the mukhtar,"
he's been told. What that has to do with anything is beyond us. We put
him in touch with Tami, and, inshallah, all will be well!
Gate 753: easy passage for us and for others today. Four soldiers now
seem to be the norm at this once undistinguished checkpoint on the
separation barrier road.
A huge Israeli flag is draped over the concrete divider by the
soldiers' "headquarters" here. Very thorough checking by this group of
soldiers of vehicles going to and from Tulkarm. All taxis are stopped,
IDs of young men checked by the soldier up in the crow's nest. The
commander sometimes pulls a young man from a taxi, talks to him while
his ID is being verified on the computer above.
The giant potholes on both sides of the roadway are worse than ever,
and vehicles, on either side, lurch drunkenly in and out of these deep
17:20 -- a blue police jeep comes from Tulkarm and stops the usual
blue car that serves as the taxi in Jubara. The driver's papers are
examined, handed back, and the police vehicle makes its way back, this
time through the village.