'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Thu 19.2.09, Afternoon
Can one get used to occupation? Just
14:22 – The soldiers here are suspicious
of us and one of them insists that Hamdan tell him where he is from.
"MachsomWatch," Hamdan says. The soldier switches to Arabic.
Being not quite sure what to do with us, he consults another soldier
(very tall, stocky, light hair and frozen facial expression). Finally
they decide to ask to see Hamdan's ID card. All three of us give them
our ID cards. The light haired soldier takes the documents and gives
them back right away without even looking at them.
Three women wish to pass and ask Hamdan
to take them stand by the gate but the soldiers won't let them.
14:30 – In the area of the checkpoint
located midway between Ar-Ras and Tulkarm, the road is extremely rough.
The road itself is very narrow, split in halves by concrete blocks,
and the shoulders are low and serrated. Cars that get to the checkpoint
from the direction of Ar-Ras are forced to go down to the shoulders
and it's only a miracle that the bottom is not damaged. From the opposite
direction, a truck that arrives from Tulkarm and has to make a turn
towards Ar-Ras blocks the checkpoint.
Is neglecting the road and jeopardizing
the drivers' safety part of the checkpoint conception?
When we arrive, there are cars that have
come from the direction of Tulkarm. It takes 11 minutes for a car to
pass, according to our measuring.
Cars that come from the direction of
Ar-Ras don't wait in line but sometimes have to wait for the hand gesture
that allows them to continue traveling. Passengers of cars from the
direction of Tulkarm go through the routine ritual of waiting at a distance
of several tens of meters from the inspection post, going uphill following
the soldier's hand gesture, stopping next to the post only to be "granted"
a quick glance and sometimes to show ID cards and get them right back.
Only commercial vehicles that come from Ar-Ras are checked, the rest
aren't. A driver of commercial vehicle, carrying big boxes with electrical
appliances (televisions? Washing machines?), is taught a lesson. He
travels (very slowly, it must be said, because of the potholes in the
rough road) without stopping. Why would he go on traveling without getting
special permission from the soldier (although, as mentioned, vehicles
that come from Ar-Ras are usually not checked today)? Waving his hand,
the soldier instructs him to stop and move back. When the driver reaches
the spot where he is supposed to stop, the soldier signals the driver
to come forward (about 5 meters) and then again he has to stop. The
driver makes eye contact with us and his facial expression is one big
question mark. When the soldier tells him to open the cap of the fuel
tank, which is at the side of the truck, the driver looks at us in exasperation.
The soldier takes a brief peek at it and touches the strings that tie
the boxes. Perhaps he is even going to tell the driver to open the boxes…
But, no. he is in luck. (The merchandise is brand new. One can see it
on the boxes.)
The driver goes on his way.
15:16 – In both directions there are
almost no delays. Cars aren't checked but people under occupation are
conditioned to stop and wait for the occupier's signal allowing them
to go on. This is the way it goes with cars that head for Tulkarm: ID
cards are not checked, a few words are exchanged and then they go on
An original sign rises high above the
watching post in the middle of the road saying, "Many thanks to
MachsomWatch … etc."
15:32 – A commercial vehicle with Israeli
licence plates loaded with aluminum windows goes towards Tulkarm. The
vehicle papers are checked and then it goes on.
15:23 – We leave.