'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Jit, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 19.10.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Alix W., Susan L. (reporting)
19/10/2008
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Afternoon

Summary

Occupation on a whim! Occupation as a fanciful impulse, or whimsical idea. How else can one reconcile the Occupation's rulings or the behavior or those who maintain it? Olives to be picked during a specially designated four day period? A town of 14,000 barricaded with a huge earth mound from one day to the next? Soldiers lounging about, on duty, or kibitzing at a checkpoint in the middle of nowhere as vehicles, Palestinian, of course, are left to their own devices to navigate around one blocked lane? And so on - ad infinitum, or so it seems.

12:20 Gate 1393: Habla

The gate is still open, but all those who want to pass, have already done so. A soldier tells us that the gate closes at 12:15, but he's not sure of the other early morning or late afternoon times. The commander, who does know, now wanders over, telling us he has no need to tell us when the gate is open or closed since we can't cross in any case! "I don't have to tell you."

13:45 Qalqiliya

As usual, vehicles pass quickly both in and out of the city.

14:15 Azzun

As we drive past quickly, we are shocked to see that there is, once again, a huge mound of earth blocking access to and from the town. We turn around where we can, return to Azzun and talk to passing pedestrians. The mound was put in place either yesterday, Saturday, or Friday, in the evening. Why? There had been problems with the settlers at Maale Shomron and olive picking going on in the groves near the settlement. Some of the local kids may have thrown stones at army vehicles. The result: collective punishment. The military lookout tower on the hill above us has its lights on in the bright afternoon sunshine, and the offending bulldozer is parked next to it on the prow of the hill, silhouetted, in its monstrosity, against the sky. People can't get to work easily now, have to take several rides, spend endless time waiting, walking and wondering how long this can be endured.

On the way to Jit:

Shvut Ami

The offending outpost is empty, but on the hilltop opposite, there's a "sukka" that has been built, and further down, a messy tent and tarpaulin deface the hillside.

Jit

Another defacement at the junction where all English or Arabic road signs have been whited out: e.g., Nablus, Tapuach, etc.

15:00 Anabta

Traffic flows smoothly in both directions. A large STOP, in English, marks the checkpoint. No taxis wait at the junction.

15:45 Jubara

We ask at the shop in the hamlet about disturbances over olive picking from Abu Maher: none.

Gate 753

One soldier stands and examines IDs and permits, the other lies spreadeagled on a bench at the back of the checkpoint.

A-Ras

Here, too, relaxation is the name of the game. As taxis wait far down the hill to be beckoned, the three soldiers leave their checking booth and rest their weary limbs against the concrete barricade surrounding the crow's nest lookout tower as music blares from above. They check nobody, wave everything on, including a huge semitrailer, and it struggles to make the bend, wending its way towards Qalqiliya.

A strange sight: two soldiers, not part of the shift guarding A-Ras, are working at the checkpoint on the south side. Their truck stands alongside, completely blocking one lane to traffic going either north or south. They seem to be preparing for winter: just like a Tel Aviv café! Plastic sheets are being glued to the metal structure. Since none of the other soldiers take any notice of problems created by this scene, the Palestinian vehicles, a steady stream of cars, taxis and trucks, work out things for themselves.  

Little traffic, five or six vehicles, including large trucks from Tulkarm; to Tulkarm Israeli cars pass freely, without being checked.