Atara, Qalandiya, Sun 19.10.08, Afternoon
Atara/ Bir Zait checkpoint:
When we started heading up the road leading to the checkpoint, we were
suddenly deafened by "holy singings" that came out of a Habad tank that
was making it's way down the road.
checkpoint looked like a checkpoint does: It is place on the top of a
mountain, right at the highest spot. Tens of vehicles were in line, all
coming out of Ramala and only one vehicle was heading into the city. All
vehicles had to strain the engine while they were waiting in line on
the steep ascent, causing damage to the car and polluting the fresh
soldiers were posted there; they had no doubts about the importunacy of
the job they were fulfilling in the name of the county's security, so
they inspected all vehicles from every possible angle.
A choice of quotations from our conversation with the soldiers:
-"This is part of the Israeli state", said
a soldier who was countering our claim that there was a deference
between "the Country of Israel" and "the State of Israel".
-"If we don't' catch the terrorists here, they will pass and explode themselves in Jerusalem", said his friend. When we said that the road from that checkpoint didn't lead to Jerusalem he answered: "But there are Israeli towns over here, and they might explode over there..."- he wasn't willing to listen to what we had to say about the people living in those towns.
soldiers didn't fail to educate the drivers either: every vehicle that
was spotted bypassing by one of the soldiers was sent back to the end
of the line just as he got to the checkpoint, as punishment for his
When we asked about for the reason the soldiers feel they have to educate them, the commander said: "It's my checkpoint, I make the rules!".
When trying to demonstrate how important the checkpoint was, one of the soldiers told us: "We caught someone who was wanted earlier, he is being kept in the pillbox, don't ask what we found on his". We didn't ask.
And indeed a short while afterwards a Hammer arrived and took the young man away.
was suddenly a lot of commotion at the checkpoint: Two young men were
taken out of the pillbox, their hands were handcuffed and their eye
covered. One was taken away quickly and was shoved into the Hammer,
while his friend, who was merely the one driving the car in which the
wanted person was found in, was released.
The soldiers didn't allow him to speak to us and claimed we were "getting in the way of the traffic...", "we are the ones "standing in the way of the traffic? It isn't the checkpoint", they wouldn't answer our question.
Red marks from the handcuffs remained on the young man who was released.
army left the walls and barbed wires it built around the parking lot
before the Ramadan. Are they getting ready for the next Ramadan
The lines were long during the wholes time we were there, the
inspections were slow, the turnstiles locked and weren't opened for
several minutes. All the active lanes were slow. Everyone was moving as
slow as a turtle.
Phyllis called the operation room over and over again. The person who answered kept giving her the same answer: "We are looking into it...". An hour later when she insisted he give her a more accurate answer she was told that "The soldiers were in the process of getting their food swapped" (?).
were probably getting their "food swapped" at 17:30 as well, when the
soldier in the glass cage got of her chair, put her bullet proof vest
on and her rifle, got out of her post and disappeared. Five minutes
later another soldier came to replace her. He wasn't in hurry either.
of people, among them were babies and elders, were standing outside of
the checkpoint, they were quiet and patient, or are they used to is by
once again, after a few minutes the soldier got up, left the room and
disappeared. The turnstiles locked again and the line got longer, we
didn't' hear any complaints or yelling of frustration from the all
those people who couldn't pass.
foreign photographer that we met told us that as 16:30, when he was in
the checkpoint he saw a police man (blue police) walking with a
security man who had his rifle pointing at a 13 or 14 year old boy,
they took him from the line and told him to stand against a wall and
spread his legs, the officer conducted a physical search on him and
then hit him on the head. The three disappeared through one of the
gates leading behind the checkpoint.
Phyllis called the Red Cross and told them the story, but they "don't make a habit of calling the army", they said. They might just "pass on the name of the person who was there" (might do that). They refused to talk to the photographer who told us about this; after all we didn't have the boy's details.
asked three soldiers that passed our way about this incident. One of
them confirmed it was true, and said the boy "kept trying to pass the
checkpoint without a permit".
This time they were going to teach him a lesson, it seems.
this is the place in which all that we have witnessed and all that we
didn't witness, is called by the Israeli authorities: "a border
On the way back we saw signs inviting the Jewish People to come and celebrate the holyday.
One sign said: "Judea and Samaria- the story of every Jew" another sign said: "Simchat Beit Hashoeivah at Naut Binyamion".