'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Tue 6.5.08, Afternoon
Jubara entrance gate
The gate, as always in recent weeks, is locked. I go to the large checkpoint (Te’enim) to ask the soldiers to unlock the gate for us. The commander takes a key and walks with me towards the village; we engage in some polite small talk, and then as he turns the key inside the first lock I muse outloud “it must be so depressing to live locked like this inside your home like a prison, can you imagine…” “Locked? Why locked?” he asks as he moves the key into the second lock. I glance at his face; no ironic smile, and it doesn’t even seem like deadpan cynicism. Neither does it seem like willful evilness; just a kind of disconnect between thought and action – the kind of disconnect that enables not especially bad but also not especially good people to take part in injustice. I point to his hands that are holding locks and keys; “look, you’re the only one who has a key to this village.” He doesn’t answer, but neither does he raise his gaze towards me. Might the gaze have been lowered as thought began to connect to action? Don’t know; probably just my wishful thinking…
Jubara, Children’s gate
Six soldiers are crowding the checkpoint. Changing guards. Not a single car or Palestinian pedestrian.
A few minutes later at Ar Ras. The checkpoint seems totally empty when we arrive; we neither see cars nor soldiers. Can it be that they lifted this roadblock? No; a momentary illusion; the soldiers are behind cement blocks getting ready for their new shift. Cars were stopped for about 10 minutes; 4 of them are waiting patiently down the road.
The soldiers begin to work. It’s an especially calm shift – no special restrictions today, not even “terror alerts”; the soldiers even insist that the territories aren’t under closure today (the habitual closure Israel imposes for memorial and independence day). How can they not know? we wonder. In any case, the soldiers follow the commands they received efficiently but also with conspicuous boredom: a brief look at the car’s passengers and occasionally asking the driver to fully stop the car and open baggage compartment; another glance, maybe asking the driver to open a bag or two and then moving on. Sample checking. It quickly becomes clear that here today all present – passengers, observers, and even inspectors (not as usual) – think that this roadblock is superfluous.
About 9 cars waiting in line to enter Israel through Te'enim checkpoint.
Neither cars nor pedestrians; not a single person trying to enter or leave Tul Karem through this roadblock at this hour. We immediately continue to Beit Iba, wondering about this complete absence of traffic.