'Anabta, Eliyahu Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Shufa,Te'enim Crossing, Wed 13.7.11, Afternoon

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Karin L., Gila P., ShoshiI.(reporting); Guest: a student from Australia

Translator:  Charles K.


After receiving a phone call from a volunteer with the Ecumenical who told us about “Stop work” orders and uprooting of olive trees at Shufa, we decided to visit the village and hear the facts from the residents.  We weren’t able to meet the head of the village or anyone from lower Shufa, whose residents received the order, on the day of our shift.  We made an appointment with S., and G., her husband, both of whom speak fluent English, in upper Shufa.  We had a fascinating conversation, and promised to meet them again.

16:00  Goods terminal, Irtah/Sha'ar Efrayim CP.  Our guest gets out to photograph and the security personnel arrive immediately and ask to see the pictures.  R.T., the head of the shift, orders her to erase the photographs in the camerainfo-icon.  It’s a military area and photography is permitted only by prior arrangement.  What could be secret about an area where Palestinians are allowed to be present??

16:0  Irtah/Sha'ar Efrayim CP.  Many Palestinians returning from their workday in Israel.  One calls to us, “Come in the morning,” “it’s hard in the morning.”

16:35  We turn left at the junction toward Shavei Shomron and arrive at the Kafriat/Te’enimcrossing.  A few vehicles cross without delay.

16:50  We continue to Shufa.  There’s no sign indicating the entrance to the village.  The roads are all in poor condition; the car shakes going up the hill.  We’re helped by a young man on a motor scooter who leads us to S. and G.’s home.  It’s very hot in their living room.  There’s no fan, and the windows are closed.

G. teaches English and is the principal of a school in Kafr Tsur.  Because of the checkpoint, it takes him 40 minutes to drive to school, and to return.  It’s very hard on the villagers, and makes the trip more expensive.  Good roads without checkpoints are more important to him than electricity and water (the village was connected to the electric grid only last year, with Tzvia’s help).  Each of his children pays NIS20/day for transportation to school and back, and the expense is a burden on his family’s budget.  S. says that she often must do her shopping and visits on foot.  G. says he rides a donkey when he can’t go through with his car and S. shows us a photo of him riding the donkey and holding a computer.

Shufa has about 2000 residents.  G. says it’s divided into upper and lower portions by a checkpoint that was established ten years ago, after the second intifada, apparently for the security of the settlers in Avnei Hefetz (the geography isn’t completely clear to us, but we didn’t have time to find out).  There’s an elementary school in the village.  High school students study in Tulkarm or in the Kadouri vocational school.  College students attend Bir Zeit or Al-Najah.

Only the built-up area of the village is considered Area B.  Most of the village’s lands are in Area C, as are the areas between the buildings, so construction and sinking wells is forbidden.  Upper Shufanow receives water from a well in lower Shufa.  The distinction between Area B and Area C isn’t clear to most residents.  Even within Tulkarm are areas that have been defined as Area C.

In general, life is hard.  Although electricity makes it easier, the access roads to the village and the internal roads are in very poor condition; health services are inadequate even though they’re provided in a splendid building.  There’s a clinic, but the nurse comes only twice a week.  When someone has a serious problem they have to go to a doctor privately, or to a private hospital, in Tulkarm.

He says the Palestinians haven’t lost hope yet, because they believe it’s God’s will.  They make do.  If they have no vehicle they ride a donkey…  They don’t trust their leaders who say different things to them, to the Israelis and to the Americans.  They tell each of them what they want to hear.  The Palestinians feel lost.

He believes the only solution is one state for two peoples.  That’s the only way to prevent conflicts and wars.  He believes that, over time, Arabs and Jews will become closer and learn to live together.

All of us wanted to continue the discussion, but we had to leave.  We promise to return to meet again with this interesting couple, especially with S., who let her husband do most of the talking this time.

18:30  Anabta checkpoint– Traffic flows and we continue to Jit junction, and then to Route 55.

19:00  We reach the Eliyahu crossingvia Al-Funduq and Nabi Elias and go through without being interrogated by the police.