Deir Sharaf, Eyal Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Sun 14.11.10, Afternoon

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

Those of us who continue to monitor what goes on in the OPT know only too well about the violations of human rights of Palestinians which much of the Jewish institutional world supports, if only by its blindness or silence, and which our fellow Israelis seem to know or care little about. After so many years of occupation - of Separation Wall, apartheid roads, permits, settlements, high rate of unemployment, checkpoints open or closed, put up, taken down -- of endless humiliation and harassment of Palestinians on their own lands, in their own homes, it’s often hard to go on, to view the “end of the occupation” or “the final status settlement” or even that peace will ever come. But then we remember that it depends on us, and that our Palestinian neighbours suffer, really suffer, but behave in the way they do, with “sumud” -- staying put, standing firm despite a continuous onslaught of a psychological as well as physical nature, a human concept not allowing of dehumanization and one which often provokes kindness and thoughtfulness that we wish would be more prevalent here. After all, all we have to endure is the emotional pain of observing or rather staring at a David becoming ever more and more like Goliath.

13:00 Gate 1392 Habla
What a sight: on the Separation Barrier dirt path, behind the still closed gatesinfo-icon, two Hummers, five jeeps, including the white DCO’s plus eight soldiers, including one with an antenna jutting out of his pack, making him half as tall again! Several soldiers with guns at the ready, but shortly after the appointed opening hour some of them return to the jeeps, others doff their helmets for floppy cloth hats – more suitable in today’s heat and dust.  Where we stand the usual conglomeration of young and older men, tractors, horse and donkey carts and the usual patience. On the other side of the Separation Barrier, the gate is half closed and a group of soldiers keeps the waiting Palestinians away from it. Behind them, we spy the Bedouin school bus with its little boys waiting to return home for lunch and the upcoming holiday for the Eid.

13:10 -- some of the Seam Zone land owners come by to see what’s going on. They’ve heard that there was a demonstration in Habla, in favour or against what nobody seems to know. Some relief is expressed at the fact that R., the DCO, is here, since he is reasonable and intent on making things flow smoothly. O., the owner of the nursery, tells a couple of youths to approach R. with a request.
Just then, a jeep leaves the center of the Separation barrier and comes our way only to be confronted by a waiting tractor which has to move gingerly out of its way. The new former Zim container does nothing to provide shelter from the heat but obstructs the already narrow dirt path. Just then, a Palestinian driver, in an unusual sight here, a shiny new jeep, begins talking to the driver of the jeep who, we now realize, is R., the DCO.

13:15 -- the school bus is now given priority to cross the Separation Barrier but not before two soldiers step inside and the usual driver’s ID and permit are closely examined.
When we leave there are three soldiers visible, two Hummers, still two jeeps and the DCO’s white one.

Route 55 Nabi Elias
A number of huge carcasses, beef, not lamb, hang outside the several butcher shops in this village.

14: 30 Deir Sharaf
Here, too, a couple of live cattle outside the usual butcher shops. We soon learn why: beef is much cheaper than lamb, almost half the price, so people make do with a non traditional cut of meat for the feast days!
Business is so brisk at the minimarket, that it’s open for 24 hours every day, and most of the night time customers, we hear, are Palestinian Israelis who seem to shop, shop and shop in the OPT these days.

15:15 Eyal
A stream of returning Palestinian workers, some bearing plants or flowers, others small toys or small appliances, but most to of them carry the huge bags slung across one shoulder, bearing the season’s earliest citrus fruits which they have obviously helped harvest today. The mood is genial as it’s the last work day before the Eid.
At the turnstile, the mood is altogether different as a civilian guard, in the usual window above, spies us, shouts at us and on hearing we are MachsomWatch, yells in no uncertain terms, “I don’t care who or what you are, when I say something you stop and listen.” We are about to laugh but realize that he has stopped the turnstile, by remote control, and about half a dozen Palestinians are now standing and waiting. Happily, the foul mood of the foul mouthed oppressor ceases as soon as it’s started, the turnstile turns again, people can be on their way home; one Palestinian stops and  gives us each a clementine, smiling oh so warmly, and, as we leave Eyal, even the guard at the entrance to the terminal parking lot wishes us a good afternoon. So, maybe the spirit of the Eid will have an effect even on the Occupier!