'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Wed 30.7.08, Afternoon
A possible title of this report: The prevention of cruelty to … horses …
14:30 – We arrive at Ar-Ras checkpoint, situated between Tulkarm and Nablus (in the Palestinian territory). Next to a cheerless, bare tree that gives no shed there is a horse tied to the tree with a rope. Cart with one shaft is nearby. Two Palestinians are sitting on the ground in the blazing sun.
The commander tells us that he started his shift an hour ago, adding that he "inherited" that horse from the last shift and he is waiting for updating. The Palestinians say they have been here since 10:00 in the morning and they have no idea why the soldiers separated the horse from the cart, emptied the cart and took their documents. They say they have entrance permits and explain that they live in Far'un (a neighboring village of Jubara) and work in Jubara where their lands are. They also say that while they always get permission to pass, today they are detained. They have been without food since morning and the horse must also be hungry. The story sounds bizarre, so is the fact that they haven't been told the reason for their detention.
We bag the commander to find out what causes the delay in carrying out the inspection and why they cannot be allowed to go away.
The commander says that he, like us, is interested in releasing them but it's not his decision.
According to him, the army is sending someone who is going to arrive any minute and solve the problem. This minute takes too long. We are standing near the detainees, getting dry with them. To think they have been here since morning …
We call Tami and ask her to see what can be done to quicken their release. Tami, getting back to us, says that the IDF Humanitarian Center is handling it and they will arrive soon. We don't quite understand what the Humanitarian Center has to do with it (but it will become clear later).
A jeep and a car following it are finally seen on the horizon. After they arrive, a veterinarian, a man of the Society for the Protection of Animals and a woman soldier of the Civilian Administration get out of the vehicles. The vet approaches the horse and starts checking its teeth, and the soldier tells us that it was she who noticed that the horse was sick and she thought it had been abused, which was the reason why she detained them and called a vet. She feels it is her duty as a soldier in the Civilian Administration. A vet and a man of the Society for the protection of Animals have been called for; where from? – From Abu Kabir …
This explains why the poor horse and its owners have been waiting from 10:00 in the morning to 15:00 in the afternoon. The bureaucracy involved in calling for experts and bringing them from Abu Kabir to Ar-Ras is not a small thing.
The vet asks the owner how long he has had the horse and answer is that he bought it the day before yesterday. The vet tells him that the horse will simply die if it is made to carry loads. It is undernourished, suffers from wounds and one hoof needs shoeing. In the light of all this the horse owner has to take care of its recovery and under no circumstances force it to work. After a month he should bring the horse to the vet for a checkup.
Biriya asks the soldier who seemed to be so upset by the state of the horse, whether she would do the same in Tel Aviv and hold up a horse owner whose horse looked sick. The soldier answers that in the West Bank the laws are not quite the same as in Israel (we didn't know that …) and that she was only fulfilling the obligation of the Civil Administration. (What a pity people don't count for the Civil Administration as animals do.)
15:30 – We go our separate ways and so do the horse and its owners. We go on to Anabta.
15:55 – Very thin traffic. At the entrance there is no line at all and the traffic is streaming. Fourteen cars are in line at the exit but it is moving.
We leave and go to Beit Iba.