Beit Iba, Wed 10.9.08, Afternoon

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Tami C., Daliah G., and Alina (visiting German journalist) Chana S. translating

Beit Iba, 10.9.08, afternoon

15.10    No
cars entering or exiting Nablus. 
Very few pedestrians in the shed. 
The bored soldiers are prepared to talk to us.

The DCO man, Adam, tells us that there was a mixup this morning.  The instruction had been to check only
randomly but the officer decided to check systematically and a long queue
resulted, unnecessarily.  Only
after Adam’s intervention was this resolved.

On our asking about a detainee there, Adam explained that he appeared
on the ‘short’ list, i.e., the last 4 digits on his i.d. were similar to those
of a suspect.  They were checking
with the Security Service if he was that person.

Alina asked the soldiers about their attitude to Machsomwatch. They
said we interfered with the work. ‘Not you, of course.  But there are some women who ask us why
we do things in such a way and not otherwise.’ 

I chatted with one soldier. He told us he was not a Zionist. He
immigrated with his family from Uzbekistan 9 years ago, was accepted to
university to study as ‘atudah’ but volunteered to serve 3 years in the army. ‘Why?’  ‘Because it’s important for my
personality. The army educates towards values, concern for others, mutual help,
responsibility - important values that one does not get elsewhere.’ ‘Do you learn
these at the checkpoints?’ ‘Also here, but chiefly in active service that I
joined up for.’

Alina talked to another: ‘How do you feel in uniform and with weapons
against an innocent woman citizen? ‘They aren’t innocent. Right now we caught
someone wanted by the security service. Without the checkpoint we wouldn’t have
caught him.’ ‘Because of one suspect you punish everyone?’ ‘Yes. After every
three innocents there is one suspect and it is our job to defend ourselves
against them.’ ‘How do you defend Israel from here, 50 km away?’ ‘I defend Jews
who are here in the settlements.’ ‘Why should they be here at all?’ ‘Until
there will be an agreement we can’t abandon them. We have to defend Jews.’  After further ‘useless’ exchange, Alina
exclaims ‘It’s like talking to the wall.’ What she finds so hard is to see such
young boys, children, having such inhuman military tasks that they are unable
to understand and perform properly. 
‘With us a youth like this is still considered a child and we relate to
him as a child. And here the soldier is closed to any kind of empathy for
people he is commanded to deal with.’

Meanwhile, another soldier is telling Tami that the soldiers talking to
us are lying.  When we are not
around they behave roughly with people, not as they try to appear to us.

Adam, the DCO man, tells us that last week the ‘blue-white women’ came
with refreshments to the checkpoint. The soldiers eagerly received the
refreshments and were prepared to enjoy them with out considering Ramadan.  Adam got them to move out of sight so
as not to eat in front of those fasting.

Now the commander told me that the i.d. of the detainee had been
checked and that he was indeed the suspect.  They were waiting for him to be taken for questioning.

15.15    A
bus arrives.  Only the driver’s
i.d. is checked.

16.00 We leave.

On the way to the car Alina stops two women exiting the humanitarian
line and asks (in fluent Arabic!) what they know about Machsomwatch.  They avoid an answer. She then asks two
men who willingly answer: It’s now 7 years they have been seeing us daily.  We help as much as we can and they very
much respect us.

It turns out that Alina is the daughter of a Palestinian who went to Germany
to study and married a German woman. Her grandfather and his family still live
in Umm el Fahm.  She often visits
and of course the subject is important to her.

And on the way back she questioned us, too, about our opinions and
approach to the conflict.  So, all
in all, it was a very interesting and moving experience.

We left via Anabta.