Tulkarem and Qalqiliya, Sun 21.10.07, Afternoon

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Alix W., Susan L. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

A-Ras, Anabta




"Who's in charge here?" is not the start, or the end, of a feeble

joke but a vivid description of the occupation. It's not only the

continuous humiliation and the endless harassment, but the offhand

manner – gun of course at the ready -- in which the occupier goes

about his business, often creating mayhem but making sure that

accountability is pinned on no one.


Jubara 12.50


Few vehicles going in or out of the checkpoint. Going up the road to

the village, two small, grubby children play with empty cans found on

the side of the road. The game is to place them in a line across the

road (they have learned well what a checkpoint consists of), then to

kick them all over the place, and start all over again. Not a bad way

of describing 40 years of occupation! We notice the distressingly

miserable faces: not a smile can be gotten out of the boy or the

little girl, whose bright, sad blue eyes are heartrending.


A-Ras 13:00


It's lunchtime, the soldiers are relaxed and eating, but at their

posts. There's no checking of the few vehicles that pass to or from

Tulkarm or to or from Jubarra. We decline the invitation to join them

with a cup of coffee!


Gate 753


Lunchtime here too, and to be noted, now in evidence at all

checkpoints we visit, the large red and white sign, in three

languages, indicating that behind it is "Palestine": (indeed, since

the "A" of Area A has been blocked out, in Arabic, English and Hebrew)


Anabta  13:15


This very same sign causes us "trouble" in Anabta. Here a blue

(Israeli) police truck is parked by the military lookout tower, and

two policemen are harassing (no other word for it) particularly

Israeli vehicles (Palestinian Israelis). We stand, as is our wont,

near the central checkpoint, near the lookout tower. The soldiers are

indifferent to our presence, in fact, more or less oblivious to

everything about them. They spend their time, eating, drinking or

chitchatting, often not bothering to man all three checkposts. No

need, the Israeli police is doing all the work, including telling us

that we're "annoying the soldiers." Neither they, nor we, have

exchanged a word! "Go back 50 meters," we're ordered by Abu Aslan

(name tags are mandatory for Israel Police). We wonder if the police

are now in charge of the checkpoint as an open truck, filled with

clean, woolly white sheep and pristine white lambs drives past?

While telling us off, a Palestinian car is waved aside by this same

policeman, and it's clear they don't want us to see what they're up



13:30 -- the same policeman now tells us that he never said "50

meters," but "behind the red sign" (the one in three languages

posted, vertically on a huge concrete boulder by the entrance to the

checkpoint). As the line to Tulkarm grows, from zero to twelve, the

police continue to make us the agenda: "I know who you are, and the

law says…. I don't care about your lawyers and what they say. I will

arrest you." We decline the offer as the first policeman is joined by

his mate, who's been in the police van, probably checking vehicle

licenses against the computer, but we can't see what goes on behind

the lookout tower as we're (almost) 50 meters from it!


When there are no vehicles coming into Tulkarm, the policeman

switches sides (of the road) and interferes with the freedom of

movement of vehicles exiting Tulkarm. The soldiers continue to take

time out, as if having ceded all authority to the police. They drink,

chitchat and wave the waiting vehicles on in their own sweet time.

Sometimes when the soldiers beckon vehicles to advance to the center

of the checkpoint, the police flags them down. It's a mad, mad world,

no, correction, a mad, mad occupation.


13:45 -- the line on both sides grows and grows, up to 16 from

Tulkarm. Cars, usually Palestinian Israeli, but Palestinian too, are

stopped and searched, beneath the hood, in the trunk, but it's

completely random, sometimes on their way to Tulkarm, and sometimes

those leaving Tulkarm, while the yellow taxis just whiz by. On the

other hand, when the police search is over, the policeman gives his

fellow citizens a whacking great thump of camaraderie on the

shoulder…. not granted to Palestinians.


We leave, as it seems there will be no end to the kind of

occupation "games" at this checkpoint today. We're not expecting

genuine "war games" (see Beit Iba report).