Eyal Crossing, 'Anabta, Beit Iba, Deir Sharaf, Habla, Jubara (Kafriat), Shave Shomron, Sun 12.9.10, Afternoon
It’s a New Year for many, the third day of Eid el Fitr for others. The
problem is that after 43 years of occupation, and Israel’s continuing
determination to maintain sovereignty and confiscate land, generations
of Israelis have ceased to see the other side, the Palestinians, as
human beings. Whereas, of course, MachsomWatch volunteers go into the
West Bank to monitor violations of human rights, the fact is that, we
also assume a “people to people” approach, visiting those we’ve gotten
to know over the years, at or near checkpoints, outside terminal
buildings or at agricultural gates. True, we are there to “bear
witness,” but we are also there to meet and greet our fellow human
beings who, just like us, wish to live a “normal” life.
14:00 we are there at the usual opening time, and the gates are open.
But since it is the first day of the “fall back” clock, we ask about
gate opening. So far, only the evening opening time has changed, now
from 16:45-18:00 (instead of an hour later).There are people waiting on
both sides of the Separation Barrier, more on the Habla side, about 15
that we can see, half that number on the side where we watch. Since it
is a holiday, there are less horse or donkey drawn vehicles than usual
and not one tractor.
14:10 -- the gates are closed by the three soldiers working
lackadaisically on a not too hot late summer day. Why are the gates
closed? “There’s been an incident.” Nevertheless, an elderly man and his
cart are let into the middle of the Separation Barrier road, and his
sweetly, aromatic guavas, hidden beneath a blanket, are uncovered for
inspection. On the far side of the checkpoint, the metal barricade,
which has been closed, is now swung open, and this cart passed. A
similar incident with another guava carrying cart, with its owner having
to leave the cart and horse, as usual, to go to the concrete bunker
which serves as a checking booth before proceeding.
14:20 -- a white jeep, “police” written on its side, arrives and
soldiers and police talk. People wait, nothing moves. A usual situation.
The speed, sorry, slowness by which the soldiers function has nothing
to do with the heat but with overall policy: let them wait, check
everything over and over (even of people who pass not once but twice a
day, etc. etc.)
Nothing to report on Route 55 other than many military vehicles
on the road. The only rolling checkpoint, if indeed it was to be one,
was at the old entryway to Shavei Shomron where a group of soldiers
stood at the side of the road with two Hummers. Anabta is busy with fast
flowing traffic, no soldiers in view and just one vendor – of figs.
Once again, we took the newly paved road past Jit and Sarra and drove
down to Beit Iba on the new asphalted stretch of road given “by the
American people to the Palestinian people.” Below, Beit Iba is as dusty
and forlorn looking as ever, its days of full time checkpoint duty and
We could be in an Israeli town, since the parking place outside the
minimarket is filled with cars bearing yellow license plates. The
Palestinian Israelis have been so busy shopping in Nablus and its
surrounds, that the minimarket was open around the clock in the days
before the start of Edi el Fitr, and even today, business is brisk.
We drive up Route 60 to the checkpoint and, not unusual, we attract the
attention of the sleepy soldiers on duty here, and two of them come over
as we prepare to turn and go back down the hill. As last time, the
commander, who still seems to know little of who we are and what we do,
has to shush his officious underling who wants to ask questions of us.
16:05-16:40 Just like the other Israeli cars, we stand in line and wait
and wait. There are hundreds of vehicles it seems, waiting to go back
into Israel proper, and we see, from afar, a long line of vehicles also
entering the gateway from Tulkarm directly: the first time Jubara has
been used as a junction in many years.
16:50 There’s a barricade across the roadway, no entry into the terminal
parking lot. Few returning Palestinian workers, but a number of mini
vans offload workers near by.