'Anabta, 'Azzun, Deir Sharaf, Eyal, Qalqiliya, Sun 19.4.09, Afternoon
There are so many quotes about spring as the season of hope, new beginnings and rebirth, but few to mark the end of springtime. Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author, hit the nail on the head, and was absolutely right when she said, "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." The only thing is that she was probably thinking of her garden and not of the meanness and sordidness of relating to the Occupation.
Gate 1393 Habla
11:50 Three soldiers, their Hummer standing on the side, waiting, anxiously for the time when they can close the gate, at 12:15. But they take the opportunity sooner, drawing one of the gates on the side where MW stands and observes to a near closure. Why? Because they will not allow photography or filming. The usual flow of carts, drawn by horses, tractors, small trucks, and a couple of pedestrians comes to a halt. Everybody, as is their wont, waits patiently. The Palestinians, as usual, are punished. No use telling the soldiers of our rights. One calls the police, who arrive soon after, their white police jeep stopped by the path allowing traffic to go across the security road. The policemen don't take the trouble to get out, they can't be bothered with anything, they are not in the least bit interested.
12:05 One of the Palestinians wanting to cross is clearly mentally challenged, and, again, it's no use expecting the soldiers to understand or car. One of them demands of a waiting Palestinian, "Hebrew, you know?" The soldier's demands are now translated to a bewildered young man, and the Palestinian, we see, acts as facilitator as well as translator since the young man soon takes his bicycle and crosses the security road.
The bottom line for this soldier, no rank badges showing, although he insists he's the commander here, is that Palestinians need to go to the DCL office. A young man with a horse and cart loaded with discarded living room sofa cushions is told this: "But I have a permit," he tells us, "I'm 100%," but the fact that he may be permitted to cross at another agricultural gate, means nothing to this soldier. Permits with gate numbers on them are permits that have to be respected, no ifs, ands or buts....
Another horse and cart is refused permission to cross. The driver descends, his brother, who does have permission, drives the cart across in the direction of Habla, but his brother is soon allowed to follow - on foot!
No explanation given or notice taken of a white civilian pick up truck, yellow Israeli license plates, making its way speedily along the security road.
12:10 The police leave as a tractor, two more horse and carts make their way to the gate which the soldiers are now in a hurry to close.
12:35 By the vegetable stalls and nurseries stand one border police van and two police vans. Border police investigate a pick up truck, Israeli license plates (yellow), and a man with blue plastic gloves bullies the MachsomWatcher with a camera, "This is a closed military area." He's a police explosive expert. The bucolic nature of this seam line zone is disturbed once more by the intrusions of the Occupier.
12:50 A long line of vehicles coming out of the city. Fewer going in. A soldier comes up to us, "It bothers me if you film." No checking of vehicles going in or out.
12:10 A teacher walks over the high earth mound, now "prettily" decorated with newly placed white gravel. A group of three women, all dressed alike in smart brown long coats makes its way over the mound, on their way home after shopping. No doubt all is being recorded by the look out tower high above us.
12:35 The traffic moves swiftly in both directions, an occasional hold up only when the solider decide to stop a taxi or a truck. No Israeli vehicles in sight today: lesson learned. Only on Saturdays! The checkpoint is open from 5:00 in the morning until 12 midnight, making it impossible to return from the many celebrations and weddings that take place in other Palestinian cities, like Ramallah or Tulkarm. Again, normal life is disturbed for normal Palestinians. The fact that Beit Iba is no more, and that Deir Sharaf is now part of Nablus fails to make life better for the Palestinians.
The road from Shavei Shomron is being worked on, more and more of acreage belonging to Deir Sharaf inhabitants is being uprooted, making the confiscation of their lands even uglier than the facts on paper.
15:00 Freely flowing traffic in both directions, disturbed only by an army truck involved in building a bigger and better checkpoint, meaning, of course, that Palestinians have to wait and can expect more delays than usual. A large shovel dozer picks up shite gravel from one side of the checkpoint and lifts it up, moving clumsily back to the other side, bringing traffic to a halt each time that this naeuvertakes place.
A heartening sight: buses loaded with school girls going by, towards Tulkarm, the girls waving their arms joyously at us.
The checkpoint soldier ask, "Who are you?" "Watch?" Says, without much conviction that we can't stand where we are. Another soldier now begins to check one or two cars, his white plastic fork (not a cigarette) dangling from his mouth.
The beauty of the pink and white, the red and yellow on the sides of the checkpoint are no more. Spring is over and gone.
Shaar Ephraim and Eyal
15:30-16:00 Both "terminals" begin to fill up with Palestinian workers returning with buses or pick up vans from their jobs inside the Green Line. Other than making this observation, there is little for us to do at these checkpoints at this time of day.