Dura-Al Fawwar Junction, Sansana (Meitar Crossing), South Hebron Hills
A regular Sunday, at least to begin with. The usual pressure at Meitar checkpoint. at least 3-4 buses waiting to transport the prisoner's families on visiting day, stragglers with no entry permits on the roadside and surprisingly light traffic on the roads in the pouring rain. Along Route 60 the usual checkpoints blocking the exits to the villages and towns: Dahariya, Abda, Khursa and Al Fuwwar, although the checking was quite brisk - even the soldiers dislike getting wet.
We decided to visit Khursa, a village adjacent to the town of Dura. As reported in the past, a year ago a checkpoint was erected in the middle of a residential area, in front of the Diwan - the community meeting place where residents hold events from weddings through mourning ceremonies and everything in between. Today, a festive meal was planned for 13.00 but since a permit is required in advance for each event and no such permit had been requested, the army in the shape of a young woman soldier insisted that the event be cancelled. Together with the residents we always wondered what was the purpose of a 50 meter checkpoint, ostensibly in the middle of nowhere but today we understood. it is still not clear whether this is a farce or a tragedy.
In act 1 the soldier, unarmed, bareheaded in her fatigues, and the organizer exchange words, the tones getting higher and higher. We intervene, without result, in an attempt to solve the problem. The soldier disappears, returning after 15 minutes in full battledress and with a similarly armed companion. More argument. No result.
Act2: we try via one of our members to telephone the DCO (the district liaison office between the army and the Palestinians) they don't answer the 'phone. Amazon soldier 1, wearing a full set of radio equipment, says she has no way of contacting the DCO. We all hover round in great frustration and anger. Amazon 1 is seen to move away and speak into her telephone. After a few minutes, she declares that the permit has been granted but only for two hours. Better than nothing, although it means eating fast and cutting down on speeches. And then we understood: the purpose of this bizarre checkpoint is to rain on the parade - that is to spoil any celebration, wedding, funeral , or a communal get together. In short any assertion of agency by the Palestinian population, just to show who is boss. In army language: preventing dangerous assembly. Last week a wedding was almost ruined in the same way and in the same week a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the army post. Not surprising!