Makkabim (Beit Sira), Sat 27.3.10, Afternoon

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Roni H., Aya K., Tami G., Vivi S. (reporting)
The other side of road 443 - Maccabim Checkpoint

We drove beyond the northern eastern side of Road 443 which connects Jerusalem with Modi'in. Our intention was to check on the Palestinian villages of the West bank and their condition behind barriers, road blocks and other obstacles. The road is open to Israeli vehicles only leaving alternative, long and very bad roads for the Palestinians driving to Ramallah.

The road, located on the west bank lands was broadened on the expense of the west bank Palestinian  lands with the false and malicious promise that it will serve the Palestinians as well. The true plan was to create an Israeli corridor on Region C in the middle of the west bank area It is a fact that the road serves only Israelis leaving the Palestinian villages behind barriers, walls and towers. Moreover, the whole procedure was carried out by expropriating Palestinian lands. In order to soften these blows, alternative roads were constructed expropriating additional lands of cultivated fields and as a result limiting the life space of the Palestinians and their connection to the metropolein and the center of their daily lives.

The drivers on road 443 are not even not aware of the existence of the villages behind the walls but even happening to look they may observe some mosque minarets and with the same quick look also military observation posts.

Driving through the villages is overwhelming. Beautiful villages, cultivated fields and orchards ,intoxicating hills view  and all this may soften the reality which we came to encounter .but reality appears at each curve ,at the end of each road , at the bottom of the hill . Barriers and tunnels wounding the fields which are surrounded by observation posts, barriers and security roads. At each look fences and more fences and walls.

We entered Beit Iksa through Ramot military barrier which lets only Israeli vehicles to go through and there is another barrier a big new built military checkpoint on the way out of the village. No checking while going out but only vehicles of inhabitants of Beit Iksa and Israelis are allowed to enter the village, the reason is being Beit Iksa close to the houses of Ramot and Jerusalem and is not hermetically blocked by the separation wall.

We left for Biddu that is connected to Al Jib by a 1.5-2 Km tunnel under Road 436 and is embedded between and underneath the fields surrounded by high walls. Constructing such a road involved expropriating additional lands for the tunnel, the wall and the observation posts.

We drove from Biddu through the villages: Al Qubeiba, Beit 'Anan , Beit Liqia till Beit Sira which is the closest village to road 443 and Maccabim Checkpoint, through which only Palestinians with a working permit can cross to Israel. On Saturday this barrier is closed, no Palestinians pass.

People like us who go  to Maccabim Checkpoint to meet Palestinian workers waiting at the very early hours of dawn, we meet them at the barred exit of Beit Sira .This time we arrive to this barrier from the "Palestinian" side meaning from the inside of the village. For the first time we saw what this barred exit to 443 road looks. We arrived to high earth mound which continues to a second similar earth mound, the workers have to climb and slide down these two high earth mound and face the Maccabim checkpoint, and  risk to pass the dangerous highway to line behind the already long line of workers waiting to pass for another day of work in Israel.

How painful to see blooming red and yellow flowers on those earth mounds, making us wonder about the fields that the soil was dug from. It is the only mirror like picture on both sides of the 443 road as for all other aspects it is totally different two lives.

In one field we saw a high observation post observing the surrounding area. Eighteen months ago soldiers left the post when they noticed us. This time we did not check if the post was manned.

It takes a long time to leave Beit Sira towards Ramallah. First of all you have to cross a long, narrow and dark tunnel then drive through spoilt roads, barriers, curves and going around the villages Safa, Bil'in and Beit 'Ur. A logic geographic exit from Beit 'Ur to Ramallah was blocked by earth mounds so we had to turn around and take  the longer way. We asked for directions all the time and were always pleasantly responded.

It is worthwhile to have a look at the map in order to follow the route.