Habla 1393 and checkpoints on Highway 557
Checkpoint hours: 06:15 – 07:45
The occupation routine, inconsiderate behavior by soldiers. Highway checkpoints manned but not operating.
06:15 We arrived.
06:26 The soldiers arrived.
06:35 Those waiting at Habla begin crossing. Not many waiting, no congestion. Crossing goes smoothly, not in groups of five.
06:40 A. from the plant nurseries comes to organize things, but there’s no need. He stays anyway and keeps an eye on things.
07:00 People arrive in dribs and drabs and cross immediately. A few dozen have gone through.
A large minibus transporting female teachers to ‘Arab Ramadin. All get off and their documents are checked in the covered area. They’re unused to that, usually they hand all their documents over in a single batch for inspection.
A soldier in the covered area keeps playing with his weapon, cocking it, pointing it down at a 45-degree angle toward the crossing.
A bicycle rider practices on the security road, the one that’s supposed to be off-limits to civilians on foot or driving. He rides back and forth. One soldier speaks with him briefly, alone. Why is he permitted and we’re forbidden? How does he even access that road? The lord of the occupation knows the answer.
Drivers are carefully inspected.
07:25 Another minibus transporting female teachers who also are required to get off for document inspection. The minibus bringing the schoolgirls to Habla goes through in the other direction.
07:42 The gate is about to close. The soldier agrees to allow a car through. Then he locks the gate and a tractor that wants to cross to Habla at 07:44 is not allowed to pass. Nor a taxi coming from Habla at 07:43, with passengers. The soldier motions that he can’t let them through. Note: the gate is supposed to close at 07:45!
O., on his way to his plant nursery, stops to speak to us. We ask about permits. He says many haven’t received them yet (those whose permits expired during the past four months), because of a lot of work and personnel changes (?) at the DCL. He also said people who can’t prove land ownership are turned down, and that children of landowners receive crossing permits according to the size of the plot, not the number of family members who wish to work it. Regarding the olive harvest – people must submit applications to their municipality which transmits them to the Palestinian DCL, which sends them to the Israeli DCL.
We left to drive east, to see what’s happening.
08:00 Eliyahu crossing. No one is waiting in the fenced corridor.
Later: The work on the Nabi Ilyas bypass road is going quickly.
We drove east on Highway 55. At Jit junction we turned north onto Highway 60. The road had been in poor condition from the Highway 557 junction, but was now repaired and in good condition all the way to Deir Sharaf. Sea squills blossomed all along the way, but the field of squills on this segment of the road beats them all – it’s unbelievable. We turned toward the Shavei Shomron checkpoint on Highway 60. The settlement is surrounded by a wall, topped with a fence. The checkpoint is open and not manned.
We returned to the entrance to Deir Sharaf, where there are changes – attractive coffee houses, a new bakery.
Back to Highway 557, driving west. Ramin on the right. The road from Ramin to the highway is open. That access to the highway had been blocked for years. Two years ago we were present at a meeting between the Civil Administration, the head of the village and representatives of the Palestinian Authority. They agreed that the road would open, and how that would be accomplished. Then two years passed! The road finally opened, and it’s heavily traveled – which shows how important it was to open it. Cars entering and leaving the village stop next to us, the last a Palestinian police car, they want to know what we’re doing there. We explained, and drove on to the Anabta checkpoint. It’s open, a military jeep beside the pillbox, we assume the checkpoint is manned. We continued west on Highway 557.
We saw new trailer homes at Einav; they don’t seem to be occupied yet.
Between Einav and Safarin is an arrow and a sign announcing an antiquity site – Khirbet Samara. We passed the entrance to Safarin and to Shufa Ilit – we saw olive groves all along the route.
We turned to Avnei Hefetz and stopped at the junction between the road to Shufa Ilit on one side and to Shufa Tahta and Tulkarm in the other direction. Last year a pillbox was erected there. It was manned. A soldier came over to us to ask what we’re doing there. We explained who we are and drove home via the Jubara checkpoint.