'Azzun 'Atma, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), יום א' 8.3.09, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
Occupation? What do you mean occupation? We are occupiers? We occupied something? (A settler in Azon Atma and a Givati 1st sergeant in Huwwara)
There is a roadblock at the entrance to the settlement. The traffic is heavy. About 40 people crowd around the roadblock. At the exit: Palestinian workers await transport and vehicles with yellow number plates await workers who are due to leave from the roadblock.
Those leaving the territories via Azmon Atma now have to cross two roadblocks: the first separates the West Bank and Azmon Atma, the additional one is between Azmon Atma and the settlements and Israel. A number of those crossing whom we approached claimed that it took them an hour and a half to travel from the first roadblock to the exit from Azmon Atma.
A Palestinian on his way to work on a settlement had a long chat to us about the situation, on the hopelessness, about the fact that he has to work on a settlement to ensure the survival of his children.
A settler, waiting impatiently for his worker who is due to arrive from Azmon Atma, articulates his anger and recounts his problems to us: Oslo is responsible for everything. Until the Oslo agreement everything was fine. For the Palestinians too. They earned billions of shekels. When we try to speak to him about the occupation, his response, not entirely unexpected: What occupation? What do you mean occupation? Who occupied something? We are occupiers?
There is one vehicle at the western roadblock and 12 at the northern one.
In the direction of Nablus: from time to time there is a stream of pedestrians.
From Nablus there are about 40 - 50 people at the turnstiles. Only one checkpoint is open. The inspections are slow. Once in a while a soldier arrives, inspects a number of people beside the turnstiles and leaves. We monitored each and everyone in the queue it turned out that it took 24 minutes at the roadblock. We telephoned Abu Rokon who promises to investigate the matter.
- 1. A 1st sergeant from Givati approaches us. He tells us that the third checkpoint at the exit from Nablus has not been working for a week and a half. All his efforts to repair it have not succeeded and he is sure we can be of help in the matter. A conversation develops between us. He is an intelligent young man, aware of the history of the People of Israel and the annals of the settlement of Israel. There is only one thing he is not aware of; that we occupied the land of another people. Of course this is our country, what do you mean we occupied it? So what if, in 1948, it was determined that we have a country with borders? We should note that he is a humane young man, and one question that we asked: do the Palestinians not deserve their own country, left him somewhat pensive.
- 2. A disabled man with a walking frame is about to get to the turnstile at the entrance to Nablus. Just then we found the DCO representative, S., and he promised that in a moment he will ensure that the disabled gate is opened.
- 3. We see him very busy measuring the area, and disappear. The disabled man folds up his walker meanwhile and crosses through the turnstile with great difficulty. S., returned, apologized for not opening the gate, explained that he is engaged with something. It turns out that the task is the measurement of the area in order to put flower pots along the entrance lane to Nablus. Flower pots? What about drinking water? Toilets? That is not the DCO's business. Really, we thought, why do we only grumble all the time, criticise and cannot be pleased? The occupation will be a lot more humane and pleasant with flower pots along the way, and the people spending hours at the turnstiles will forget the time they spend there when they have flowers to look at. Possibly they will want to stay longer at the roadblock.
- 4. About 15 vehicles are at the exit from Nablus. A bus there with mainly women passengers, among them those with babies in their arms, most of them elderly, are all taken off the bus. They all bring their packages, even if they are small, to the x-ray machine. The bus spent 10 minutes at the roadblock.
- 5. We left the roadblock. There is no Border Police jeep near Beita, at Azarta there are no vehicles in either direction.