Beit Iba, Shave Shomron, Sun 7.12.08, Afternoon
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and proclaimed in 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. It was sixty years ago this week, on December 10, that Member States proclaimed "this Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all people and all nations." There are a number of Articles that pertain to what we, in MachsomWatch are about, and not only Article 13, "everyone has the right to freedom of movement...." And, on the eve of a Muslim feast, Eid Al Adhar, Feast of the Sacrifice, one wonders if it's too much to ask of the army of occupation to behave "in a spirit of brotherhood."
14:40 Birth of a new checkpoint
Just beyond the main entry way to the settlement of Shavei Shomron, past the junction of Routes 60 and 57, there are a series of five or six totem-like poles, planted in ugly concrete blocks beside a brand new metal barricade - the usual yellow to which we're accustomed. Not only that, on each side of the roadway, a new metal guard tower for a soldier to stand in - so far empty. So, this is how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is celebrated in the OPT: with a brand new checkpoint to hinder even more the Palestinians' freedom of movement in their own territory. But maybe the functioning checkpoint is being delayed while "restriction on West Bank movement is eased over the coming Muslim holiday" (Haaretz).
14:45 Shavei Shomron
The soldiers here know nothing about the new checkpoint five minutes away (closer to them even than Beit Iba). And they call after us, snidely, "so we can read all about this on the Internet? How wonderful!"
15:00 - 15:45 Beit Iba
The eve of Eid Al Adha, and it's quiet at the checkpoint: the incessant noise of the quarry has already ceased, the university is already closed, so no students. There is some traffic in both directions, not much. And we do see a couple of cars with yellow (Israeli) license plates, Palestinian Israeli families on their way to see relatives in Nablus: that's been graciously allowed by the Minister of Defense in honor of the holiday.
But not all is peace and quiet. There's a new "structure" at the checkpoint, a new wire fence with a wire gate, presently open. But it enables the pedestrian checkpoint area to be entirely enclosed. So it appears that the Occupier has something else up his sleeve to "improve" the situation at Beit Iba. The commander tells us that it's for the time when "there is no checkpoint here." Not worth decoding that.... The soldiers appear relaxed, as well they should be with so few passing pedestrians. But the commander still has to point out to us that we must stand in our usual "square."
Only one turnstile working, and the young men still have to take off belts and show everything inside their plastic bags. Usually ten to twelve young men in line, but the fast lane is often empty. A few times, a young man takes a chance and tries to get through that way. One, with an exceptionally large number of packages and plastic bags, is successful. Another is sent back to the turnstile lane.