'Anabta, Beit Iba, Deir Sharaf, Habla, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Jit, Jubara (Kafriat), Shave Shomron, Wed 18.8.10, Afternoon

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Susan L. (reporting); Guests: Monica P, Jordan B., Yuri H.

Our starting point is the Green Line, Route 6. East of it we are well
aware of notions   about the land being "disputed," "colonized" or
"separated." What is obvious on our tour are the combination of
apartheid, military occupation and colonization in a manner that must be
unique in the world! The upshot of the process of land acquisition and
demographic engineering is a sorry spectacle on the one hand, a human
tragedy on the other.

13:40 Habla
We arrive early at Gate 1393, firmly closed in the intense heat, as a
dozen or more men sit on the bench, waiting, in the boiling hot ex
container (from Zim shipping line, we wonder). The army arrives after
13:45, and then only two soldiers step from the Hummer as it hurries off
into the hot dust of the Separation Barrier.

13:55 -- the gatesinfo-icon have still not opened, and the soldier, on our
complaining, says he cannot "open the gate on my own," that he is
awaiting another three...
When they do come, another five minutes wait, as they work in
excruciating slowness, while horse, donkey cart, tractor, bicycle and
about 20 male workers take their place to get through the Separation
Barrier. Just one woman -- a woman we know from Ras Atiya, since, once
long ago, we were able to cross the Separation Barrier checkpoint there,
(now no more) and join her in her home, to eat watermelon. Today, she
still has her same job in Israel, she still pays 50 NIS a month for her
work permit, good until the end of this year, but now she can no longer
get near her village without coming through this gate and then taking a
taxi from the other side all the way to Ras Atiya.  She is but one
example of the continuous political and economic control over the
Palestinian people by the Occupier.

On our way deeper into the Seam Zone, we take a small tour
alongside Alfe Menashe, the settlement which proudly boasts
advertisements for new housing on the road leading up to it, close to
the sadness and poverty of the Bedouin community a few meters away. Just
before the barred entryway to the settlement is a lookout which
portrays only too well how the contours of the land have been gouged out
to create the Separation Barrier, a roadway below and the "Wall" -- as
high as the wall in Jerusalem, as a soldier once boasted to us -- above.
The way the Separation Barrier curves as it does is clearly to
demarcate the growing settlement and its expansionist plans to swallow
up what remains of the Seam Zone.

Route 55
Nothing to report, a hidden military jeep off on the side of the
road at Al Funduk, and no signs of life, for now, at the outpost of
Shvut Ami near Qedumim.

Jit and the road to Beit Iba and Nablus
Nothing going on at the junction itself, but a surprising scene as cars,
taxis and even a Taneeb bus, are seen, coming down from the road to
Sarra. We decide to "explore." The road is wide open and where, once, in
the dim, distant past, four, five or more years ago, was a checkpoint
and trucks delivered water to the villages beyond, today the road is
wide open (and the villages, we know now have piped water, as does, and
did the settlement of Qedumim). The roadway is in good shape, and, near
its crest is a gorgeous view to the north and west, whereas just east of
us is Nablus, close by with smart looking new residential buildings
near where we turn around. At a junction, a brand new junction, well
laid out and engineered is a big sign that this road is made with the
help of US AID. Had we continued straight on, we would have been in the
center of Nablus. Instead, we drive down the steep asphalted (still
black) road, the live trees at its side made more silvery than ever with
the roadwork and summer dust, straight into the middle of what was once
the Beit Iba checkpoint. All is quiet, little traffic in the few hours
remaining before the end of Ramadan, the old kiosks all tightly closed
up: the whole setting, with the deserted quarry behind, looks like
something from the back set of a Hollywood movie. The closed Huwwash
Brothers' carpentry workshop sports an impressive looking new iron gate,
a new shopping parade, still not open, has been created  near Deir
Sharaf, and there are now some places selling inticately designed clay
pots alongside the road. At the mini market, we learn that the new road
we have just "explored" has been open only about four days.

Shavei Shomron
The newly paved Route 60 to Jenin, also courtesy of US AID, is now open
to traffic, and there's a checkpoint as for many years, at the crest of
the hill, outside the military base entryway to Shavei Shomron. Quite a
bit of traffic here. We note a large IDF tank parked not afar away
(empty), a "stretch" Hummer in front of us, barring the way up the
barricaded hillside, and as we make our way to turn back down the hill, a
gaggle of soldiers surrounds us. We learn from the commander that the
roadway is open although "they" are still working beyond the checkpoint
("there's nothing of interest there for Israeli Jews") that permits to
go to Homesh (the disengaged settlement may be reached: really?) At this
point, the commander from the "stretch" Hummer tries to ask more
aggressive questions and is shooed away and silenced by the commander
stationed at Shavei Shomron.

Traffic slows down as it crosses the intricate access point to Tulkarm, but there's not a soldier in sight.

A polite military policewoman speeds our way on to:

16:00 Irtah
Many people hurrying, good naturedly, to the terminal building where,
unbelievably, all eight counters are open to service the few returning
workers on this horribly hot day. A man, carrying a standing fan,
struggles to get through the narrow turnstile to the hall inside,
saying, good naturedly, "Well, it would be better to have air
conditioning, but meanwhile..."  And only a few more hours to "iftar."