'Anabta, Deir Sharaf, Habla, Jubara (Kafriat), Sat 17.4.10, Afternoon
Whose holiday is it anyway? Excess remains a staple of Independence Day in Israel: witness the newspaper article on the tons of meat sold in the days before, and, presumably consumed on the holiday itself. As MachsomWatchers we note, more tellingly, that there's closure on the Occupied Palestinian Territories already four days before the holiday, meaning, of course, Palestinians lose yet more days of work in April.
11:20 Habla Gate 1392
PLEASE SEE THAT THE GATE CLOSES LATER IN THE EVENING. EVEN WITH THE SUMMER CLOCK, THERE HAS BEEN NO CHANGE IN THE EVENING CLOSING TIME, AND ACCORDING TO THE SHEPHERDS, IT'S FAR TOO EARLY FOR THE ANIMALS TO RETURN AT 6:00 OR 6:30: THEY NEED ALL THE DAYLIGHT HOURS TO GRAZE.
Two new flags, one Israeli, joined by a black and green standard: the armored corps is now in charge of the gate, complete with a fully outfitted second lieutenant (large backpack with phone antenna, etc.).Inside the Hummer, purring away, its engine running all the time we're there, a soldier has his feet up on the dashboard.
A donkey cart waits to pass from the Habla side: no driver visible. Of course, he's had to leave his charge and go into the little concrete house to be checked. On our side of the Separation Barrier, a mirror image, a tractor waits, but soon we see two young men emerge from the checking structure, and the donkey cart has to turn back.
11:30 -- a silvery Mercedes comes form the Habla side of the Barrier, and the commander examines it very, very thoroughly. The trunk has already been opened by the soldier who stands further back from the Barrier, and it remains open as the driver approaches the officer, who opens doors on both sides, asks for the engine to be switched off (the jeep's engine is still running), opens the hood and looks under it, only then letting the car pass. We note that the second lieutenant hangs onto the driver's ID, and we have to assume that he is allowed to pass only on condition that he returns soon!
A pickup truck with trees, bound for a nursery, is checked, and, on the side where we stand, a tractor driver laments, "All the time it's worse." Yes, we can see that today, and it's been getting worse here over the past few months. Two soldiers rummage through old clothes in an open wagon, drawn by two horses, one big, very beautiful, and the other small and also beautiful.
11:35 -- a young boy, carrying a saucepan, wrapped in a black plastic bag, is waved, from the side where we stand, to the concrete checking house as other pedestrians, from the Habla side, wait. The usual mantra: "One at a time, one at a time." The boy and his saucepan take but two minutes to get though to the Habla side of the Barrier.
From the far side, a Father and son, both carrying "overnight" bags. These are thoroughly examined, clothes laid out on the dusty, dirty "roadway," as the commander looms over them. Just then, the man we've nicknamed the "cowboy" arrives, chats with one of the soldiers, in Arabic, and to us laments that the only thing to keep everybody going is "Patience." Yes, but for how long?! Meanwhile, father and son have crossed to the center of the Separation Barrier, and the cowboy picks up the two bags that have been brought to him, riding off on his bicycle, but returning within a few minutes to meet his brand new mare, a beautiful brown and white horse, complete with new saddle (label still hanging from it). He's longing to have photos taken.
11:45 -- the driver of a huge truck with an even larger load of trees is made to pull out his tarpaulin, things from the belly of the truck, the officer clambers into the truck's cab, and the truck lumbers clumsily over the Barrier to the gate, which is only half open on one side: thoughtfulness is the second name of the Occupier!
12::00 Nabi Elias
A flying, "rolling" checkpoint, a jeep at the southern side of the road has pulled over a car, and behind it a bus is also waiting to be checked. We note that, today, only Palestinian vehicles and those belonging to Palestinian Israelis will be on the road, and there are plenty of army vehicles that do not, unlike the settlements we pass, appear to rest on the Sabbath.
Just past Qarne Shomron, at Havat Gilad, an orange sign telling about a Bar mitzvah!
Beyond, the springtime flowers are still just visible, yellow, purple thistles and huge white shoots of cow parsley. A spring time countryside slowly turns to its summer brown.
12:15 an empty checking booth at the orange painted concrete barriers planted across the old roadway to the settlement above.
What's that, besides the name of a village outside Nablus? A checkpoint? Not a vestige of a checkpoint visible any more. They came, they conquered, they left.... And we saw...
Traffic flows smoothly, police on the apartheid road beyond the checkpoint.
A long line of Israeli vehicles, which are asked from whence they come, i.e. today there will only be Palestinian Israelis on the apartheid roads in the OPT. We are told that it's forbidden to bring in plants from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, note perhaps this new "rule," is a result of words being muddled up, since "plants" and "eggs" rhyme in Hebrew (we've been told, in the past, that eggs cannot come into Israel proper from the OPT): once more, excess! Beyond the checkpoint, more police who are monitoring vehicles entering the OPT.