'Anabta, 'Azzun, Eyal, Qalqiliya, Sun 3.5.09, Afternoon

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Ruthie W.Z., Susan L. (reporting)


Today is the first shift we've carried out after the police raid on our sister activists in New Profile. More than ever, it's our duty, as well, of course, our right, to do what we do at the checkpoints and within Israel to epitomize the legal and moral basis on which this country is supposed to stand. Meanwhile, today, we stood at checkpoints and monitored and bore witness, as we have done over the long years since the start of the Second Intifada.

12: 30 Qalqiliya

Three soldiers at one checking booth, not one at the other. They are joking around with each other, waving the traffic on, into Qalqiliya, Israeli as well as Palestinian vehicles.

12:45 The commander appears from the side of the road, the three soldiers go to the far checking booth, and he wanders over to them. A lackadaisical day ....

13:05 Azzun

The earth mound barring the entrance to the town has miraculously disappeared. No doubt it will miraculously appear again in a couple of months. One of the locals tells us that the mound was removed on Friday afternoon after it had been in place for two months. Until the next time....such is Occupation.

14:00 Anabta

The five lane checkpoint begins to be visible, and curbstones and fencing are ready to be put into place while the damage to nature and the obvious grabbing of Palestinian lands continue. In the remains of the bucolic olive grove on the west side, the spring flowers are already past - perhaps in sympathy with the destruction around.

In the meantime, it's no easier to cross the checkpoint than before. Vehicles have to negotiate ruts and bumps and a roadway that continues to be too narrow for the large semi trailers that have to tackle this checkpoint to Tulkarm. And it seems no thought was given to would-be pedestrians.

Little traffic and so, in the silence, the birds can be heard singing. A pick up truck with a beautiful and frisky horse is stopped. The horse, of course tied up, jumps up and down, shakes the pickup truck and annoys the three men inside, worries the soldier holding up the truck, but he lets the truck go after three or four minutes.

14:10 A Hummer arrives, making its noisy presence known. All checking, on both sides of the checkpoint, stops. Lines develop. A new shift of soldiers has arrived. The Hummer hoots noisily for no reason at no one in particular. The birds still sing. The soldiers don their flak vests, the commander is helped with his communications gear. The Hummer starts up and makes as if to leave, stops by to chat with one of us, and the waiting Palestinian vehicles, which have switched off their engines during the change over, wait some more. Lines form on both sides of the checkpoint, at least 15 vehicles pile up in a few minutes. As we leave, the lines dissipate, the birds continue to sing. 

14:15 Eyal

One of the filthiest places in Israel. The outlines of Qalqilya behind the almost new terminal building face an open parking lot which is littered with debris, mainly plastic cups and pieces of plastic. A horrible sight....A number of drivers with taxis wait and regale us with horror stories of the "balagan" (messy confusion) and behavior of soldiers who show no respect (the Hebrew "kavod") to anybody, including beating up Israelis (Jews, they emphasize) last Thursday morning. A group of Palestinian women arrive, on their way home to Tulkarm, having been here earlier in the day, much, much earlier, at 4:30 in the morning.