'Azzun, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Qalqiliya, Wed 21.9.11, Afternoon

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Karin L., Shoshi A. (photographing), Gila P. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translator:  Charles K.


The day after the opening of the General Assembly session in the UN.

13:00  - Habla agricultural gate #1393

Many more soldiers here than we’re used to (nearly ten).  One wishes us a nice day and asks us not to photograph soldiers.  He does more than ask; he inspects the photos one by one.  Five vehicles on line.  The same number from the other direction.  The gatesinfo-icon open and close alternately, allowing a single car to go through.  That’s also not according to the usual practice.  A tractor driver has to unload what he’s transporting – blue barrels.  It’s clear they’re empty.  He takes them off one-by-one and then reloads them.  The soldiers can’t be expected to help him.  A female student in the English Department at the university in Nablus, who lives in the nearby Bedouin village, tells us she wastes hours at the crossings every day.  Time that’s stolen from her studies.  A man from Beita also complains about the waste of time.  “The checkpoint is tough.  Life is tough.”  A driver passes: “This checkpoint is ok.   Go to 109/Eliyahu crossing.”  And with growing anger:  “They hold every car for two hours.  The soldiers here are ok, there they’re garbage.”  (It’s the same whether they’re in uniform or civilians.  At Eliyahu crossing the inspections are conducted by a civilian security company).  S: “Since 109 was transferred to a civilian company things are absolutely terrible.  They use dogs for inspections, machines.  They pat you down, again and again.  Disgusting.  The inspection is humiliating.  They check water, salt, wheat, flour.  They tear sacks open.  They check fire extinguishers, propane tanks.  My aunt wanted to cross with her son.  The inspector let her through, but without her son.  But he’s four years old.  A four-year-old terrorist?  You’d think this was the AllenbyBridge.  You’d think we’re crossing from one country to another.  Checkpoint 109 is in the wrong place.  It should be on the Green Line.”  When we tell him we’re impressed by his Hebrew, he says:  “Yes.  I paint with language.”

13:40 -  Eliyahu crossing/109

The surprisingly spacious parking lot testifies to the large number of employees of the Crossings Authority, Defense Ministry staff and staff of the civilian security company.  The large number of buildings erected recently on both sides of the checkpoint are evidence of the many people who make a living here.  A guard with his dog stand out among them.  We asked why it takes so long to cross.  “We just started working yesterday.  Ask your questions of the spokesperson.  You enjoy arguments.  Get out of my area.  You’re not allowed to be here.”  “What are your orders,” we wanted to know.  “I’m not authorized to answer.”  Who ordered the dogs to be here, we asked.  “I’m not authorized to answer.”  When we crossed to the other side of the checkpoint, another security person approached:   “I’m asking you not to photograph.  P-l-e-a-s-e!  I’m asking you not to stand in one place.  Keep moving.”  Meanwhile women who look like foreigners have to get out of their cars to be inspected.  A security man, in the best action-film tradition, whispers into his shirt:  The woman is trying to photograph.  The woman is trying to photograph.

 14:05  Qalqiliya checkpoint.  Traffic flows freely, no one inspects or interferes.

14:15  Azzun

Here’s something new:  two Palestinians soldiers at the checkpoint. This is the first time we’ve seen them in action.  They don’t allow us in, concerned for our safety.  They even prevent us from making a U-turn.  It turned out that settlers tried to provoke residents this morning.  We asked whether we could drive toKafr Thulthwe understood from their tone that it would be a very bad idea.

 14:45 – Sara

Palestinian and Fatah flags, mainly on public buildings.  One resident:  “There’s no reason to be happy.  Only the big-shots can be happy.  When the army comes in – people throw rocks.  Otherwise, it’s quiet.  Only the big-shots.”  (before Obama’s address).

 15:15 – Huwwara checkpoint.  Traffic flows.

16:20  Shomron crossing.  No delays.