'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 2.11.08, Afternoon
Perhaps the army of occupation has not yet arrived at the most sophisticated techniques of repression and indoctrination involved in "re-education," but the soldiers are most certainly involved in behavior modification of the Palestinians who need to cross checkpoints and in the watchers who monitor what goes on there. Today was a good example of consequences being dependent on the behaviors manifested by both groups. There is little doubt that there are certain behaviors that soldiers want to reinforce,
12:10 Gate 1393: Habla
Two soldiers longing to close the gate in the next five minutes. No traffic when we get there, although, on the way, we meet a truck filled with palm trees which has just crossed from the other side of the separation barrier. The soldiers tell how busy the gate was earlier in the day, confirmed by one of the Palestinians near by.
One of the soldiers, biting into an apple, asks if we need help as we station ourselves to watch. He continues to munch it as he examines the trunk of an Israeli (yellow license plate) car going towards Qalqiliya. Palestinian cars, trucks and taxis are waved on. Few vehicles in the opposite direction, none stopped.
The apple chewing soldier, the commander, named T. (who's now completed eating his apple a day) comes over to tell us that we must move from where we stand, "Never mind if you always stand there." He waves us back to where we can see nothing, or to the empty, sandy lot from where we can also see nothing. We say nothing more, and as there is little to see anyway, take our leave.
13:15 Junction of 60 and 55
On the road sign, Nablus (the Arab name for Hebrew Shchem) is crossed out and what's written instead, in proper printed lettering is "Sa Nur." (One of the disengaged settlements, near the other one, Homesh).
The line is long from Tulkarm; there is no line at all when we arrive from Beit Iba in the other direction. But IDs of vehicles and passengers coming from this direction begin to be checked and, within the space of the next fifteen minutes, the soldiers succeed in creating a line which stretches almost as far as the junction with Route 55. When pedestrians walk across the checkpoint, going back into Tulkarm, one soldier checks their IDs, and the other soldier stops the oncoming traffic
A bus from Tulkarm is empty, but the soldier steps inside and checks nevertheless. Let the line from Tulkarm increase... Even more interesting is that one soldier uses binoculars, the other trains the sights of his gun on the long, long line of vehicles. What on earth for? We soon learn that when a taxi has the gall to overtake others in the line, once that taxi reaches the checking area it is pulled aside, all IDs taken, and made to wait. A new invention on the part of the soldiers to "punish" Palestinians when they don't follow "regulations" ("takanon" in Hebrew).
At one point, the two soldiers on the Tulkarm side of the checkpoint leave their position and wander down to the endlessly long line of vehicles, telling them to "Move back, move back." Of course, the line increases as a result as they meander, slowly, oh, so slowly back to their position to continue the checking process which will continue to be slow. After all, this is today's behavior modification lesson "We'll show you who's king of the heap around here."
16:05 Gate 753
A young man repacks his bag as we ask what is going on. The soldiers tell us, blithely, that he's "from Nablus, has just come from Taibeh." We cross the separation barrier, wondering at the weird ways of Occupation.... as the young man crosses too.
Three soldiers lean casually against the concrete divider as the soldier in the crow's nest seems to snooze, looking up only occasionally. What greets us is a picture of bucolic relaxation. Although it's quite late, there is no noise of the generator, the lights are not on. There is little traffic, a man on a donkey, a tractor, a few vehicles from Tulkarm, checked occasionally and casually, and to Tulkarm, a few private cars, clearly well acquainted with the pitfalls here, avoid the horrendous ditch and wend their way around the other side of the concrete barrier. They modify their own behavior, no need of the soldiers' help!