Beit Furik, Beit Iba, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sat 19.7.08, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
Once again we leave a sleepy, self-satisfied town to go to the ‘Dark Mountains' of the never ending occupation. And once again we ask ourselves: what for? We aren't going to change anything in this dreadful reality. But the need to go there and report is stronger than we are - we cannot stop otherwise who will expose the awful ‘routine nothing' that we saw today.
We drove to Kalandia to pick up our guest. The car park is almost empty and from the crossing it appears that everyone is still asleep. There is no traffic at Leil/Jab'a either but the road is in bad condition and jolts the car appallingly.
We did not stop because it was deserted. Three cars were in the queue from north to south and from west to east there wasn't even one car. There were no people in the queue for transport to the south either. We decided to continue on to Beit Iba.
None of us had been to Beit Iba for quite some time and we saw a new ‘texture of life'. There was no activity at the quarry today so the atmosphere was almost clear of dust. The queues at the entrance to and exit from Nablus were very short. It took young people about 10 minutes to cross and less for older ones. Everything appears stable, the roadblock is even reasonably clean, as opposed to the past, and the road is laid - so do we feel defeated? The occupation has become permanent, changed ‘clothes' and just got worse and worse. Everything is ordered and well arranged and gives the impression that it means to stay there forever. We recall other Saturdays when we were here years ago - hundreds of people, loads of peddlers and the sensation that the Palestinians were not accommodating towards the occupation. Now - depressing horror.
The car park is empty, no taxis waiting and no queue. A few men sit under the ‘cafe' awning, drinking coffee and telling jokes. It is the fig season and we hoped we were not the only ones to buy a few kilos today. The roadblock is almost empty and the crossing in all directions is fast. The roadblock commander came over to talk to us. He asked how we are and we asked how he is. He complained that he has been on this shift for 24 hours and he is tired. We asked about the opening times of the roadblock (of course we already knew the answer) and what happens at night. For his part he explained that there is no problem, he allows expectant mothers and sick people to cross "if they are not lying". We prick up our ears - "Yes", explains the medical specialist, "there was a woman here who did this (now demonstrating) and I immediately realised that she was play acting and not pregnant at all. I examined her and she had a cushion on her stomach so, obviously, I didn't let her cross". "Are you a gynaecologist too?" we asked, and in reply received a look that told us that we really have no idea about what goes on. To bear out the ethics of the roadblock he told us that there is even a Humanitarian Centre. A room for those who do not feel well. Once again we pricked up our ears and asked if we could see the room. "No, because it is full of military gear, and anyway the soldiers sleep there at night". "Really", we said "Doesn't it sound strange that this Humanitarian room is out of commission?" We asked/pressed to see the room but "I am the roadblock commander" and therefore he decides and we were not able to see the ‘wonderful' room.
We could only see the shepherds, in the vicinity of the village, from a great distance- has the IDF finally managed to torment them to the point where they have been moved away from the areas where there is still some pasture.
Another almost empty roadblock - relatively, of course. The crossing is quick, at the end of it they get dressed, and each one goes on his way. The waspish dog handler is very tired and she and her dog prefer to sit in the shade and rest their eyes. This fact expedites the crossing for cars. Everything appears to be calm - this occupation cannot be photographed. A stranger would not be able to understand it - an expression which we have learned through years of bitter experience at the roadblocks.
As we arrived we met a Palestinian, holding some kind of paper, talking to the soldier inspecting the cars entering Nablus. We went over to help and to free the soldier, who was totally unable to understand him, to get back to his job. It turned out to be a merchant we is prevented from entering Israel. In his hand was a letter which he thought came from the civilian administration, but in fact was a very weak plea written for him by a lawyer in Nablus. To our delight we had an Arabic speaker with us and we tried to explain the problem to the man. In the end we gave him Sylvia's telephone number. Who knows how much this desperate man paid the lawyer who did nothing for him - who possibly even did some harm. In other circumstances we would have contacted the Law Association to complain about the lawyer - but in the occupied territories?! And have we already said that the occupation corrupts?!
Before we left a Palestinian, dressed in his best clothes, came over to us speaking fluent Hebrew. He was wounded 12 years ago in a work accident in Hadera and since then has been fighting a losing battle with the National Insurance and the insurance company. After listening to what he had to say we realised that the case is too big for us and directed him to the lawyer Tamir Blank in the hope that he will be able to help him through appeal he wants to make.
We returned to Jerusalem.