'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 19.10.08, Afternoon
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
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."
As usual, vehicles pass quickly both in and out of the city.
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:
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.
Another defacement at the junction where all English or Arabic road
signs have been whited out: e.g., Nablus, Tapuach, etc.
Traffic flows smoothly in both directions. A large STOP, in English,
marks the checkpoint. No taxis wait at the junction.
We ask at the shop in the hamlet about disturbances over olive picking
from Abu Maher: none.
On soldier stands and examines IDs and permits, the other lies
spreadeagled on a bench at the back of the checkpoint.
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.