'Anabta, 'Azzun, Qalqiliya, Sun 22.3.09, Afternoon
"Something is rotten in the State of Denmark" from Shakespeare's Hamlet: or, in plainer English, the fish is rotting from the head down - all is not well at the top nor at the bottom or anywhere in between......
In the West Bank this week, the Israeli army conducted at least 39 military invasions into Palestinian communities. Troops kidnapped at least 60 Palestinian civilians during this week's attacks. Among those kidnapped were Palestinian elected MPs from Nablus.
Yet on our shift, in broad, spring sunshine, there seems nothing amiss, just more of the same with less and less for us to do and more and more for the Palestinians to endure.
12:05 Habla Gate 1393
The usual bored soldiers, the usual light traffic and, two minutes after the far gate is closed at 12:15 a pickup truck arrives. The man is shouted at, he asks the soldiers who have yet to close the gate on the Seam Zone side, to let him through, to no avail. He is stoic, calm, cool and collected, telling us "My home is 200 meters from my lands," two minutes normal walk away. But these are not normal times, nor is this a normal situation anywhere else in the world. By car, he has to drive one hour (and he's two minutes late, so has to wait now until 16:45 for the gate to be reopened).
Cars with yellow plates (Israeli) are thoroughly checked. One pick up truck, filled with Palestinians is made to turn around, all the permits are held and checked.
As is already known by now, the earth barriers are once again in place (but somehow the military forgot the concrete boulders)! Quite a few pedestrians make their way over the man made hill, young women, clinging to their books, clambering over with some difficulty. Meanwhile, on the side, goats leap and frolic blissfully unaware of man's inhumanity to man, enjoying the last of the bright yellow mustard flowers.
14:30 Deir Sharaf
A no name sergeant, who is the commander and a no name representative of the DCL tell us over and over that we cannot go on to the village. They refuse to give us their names. Israeli cars are allowed no further, we're told, even Palestinian Israelis (untrue for Saturdays). We make no headway, but we stay here for well over half an hour as Palestinian vehicles go by, with no checking. There is a solider in the look out tower and four soldiers, one eating, at the side, one making his way to the deep grass around the olive trees, nature's toilet.
In the current rotten state of the nature of things, Anabta is growing into the new Beit Iba, and as a corollary Deir Sharaf is the new Anabta. Indeed, Deir Sharaf looks very similar to how Anabta looked a few years ago.
At Anabta, there are four giant earth movers, diggers and drillers at work. Two colored khaki and so army, two yellow and so civilian. The checkpoint, we surmise, is getting a makeover and will be bigger and better. Meanwhile, the drill bores into the earth loudly and disturbingly. In the soft green olive grove a couple of meters a way a shepherd tends to his flock, and white egrets hover overhead. The noise is incessant and invasive.
15:10 By now, the line of vehicles stretches all the way to the junction. Why? A man, civilian, although wearing army pants, holds up the traffic to allow one of the mechanical monsters to lumber from one side of the road to the other. This exercise is repeated over and over and over. So, the lines become longer and longer and longer. The same is true, of course, for the vehicles from Tulkarm. As usual, the line stretches beyond the horizon.
There are many Israeli vehicles today (yellow license plates). All pass without problems. Occasionally, one is made to stop, to be checked. Occasionally a trunk is opened. There appears to be no pressure on the soldiers who remain oblivious to the huge lines being created, but they, too, must be suffering from the unremitting noise. At the far checkpoint, it's noticeable that sometimes there are no soldiers at work at all. One appears and puts on his flack vest, then removes it. The line of Palestinian vehicles waiting to pass waits and waits. For Godot?