'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 13.1.08, Afternoon

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Alix W., Susan L (reporting)


In today's Haaretz, Akiva Eldar wrote "a story about another world-
renowned statesman whose good intentions are being shattered in
collisions with barriers - psychological barriers and barriers of
suspicion, mistrust and bureaucracy that take shape on the ground as
hundreds of checkpoints." "Barring Blair" was the title of the
article, and "barring" all civility, decency as well as freedom of
movement, is what we witnessed today, other, of course, than the
continuing presence of Jewish settlers and their unremitting
expansion of settlement outposts, and one, in particular near

13:10 On the seam line at Habla

The gatesinfo-icon, or rather, the three or four gates which close off
Palestinians from their lands, are already closed. Of course, they
were open for an hour during midday, they were open first thing this
morning, and they'll be open again in the late afternoon for people
to go from their own lands to their own homes (courtesy of the army).
The area, full of kale and cabbages and sheep with shepherds, as well
as flowering nurseries, is sad in its loveliness, and the wreck of a
building proclaiming ":Catholic or Mennonite Relief Services," speaks
to the desperation, the poignancy, but to the outsiders' eventually
being "barred" (as Blair) from doing anything. The locals, as always,
are welcoming and view their circumstances differently, stoically,
but with characteristic "sumud." "There is a god, they proclaim,"
warming themselves with hot tea in the bright sun and biting cold.

13:45 Qalqiliya

The entrance to the Occupied Palestinian Territories is narrowed by red, plastic barricades placed
across the road, but unlike Jubara, no blue police here.

On the road marked "Zofim" (settlement, of course), the checkpoint to
Qalqiliya is manned by reservists, the line in both directions long,
but the line from Qalqiliya, uncharacteristically, is so long, we
can't see the end. The soldiers' explanation: "Thanks to George Bush"
(a non sequitur, since he left a day before, but, it's true, the OPT
were under complete closureinfo-icon during his visit), or,
alternatively, "It's Sunday." The commander, a captain, comes over
to us as we ask what's going on: "Do you know Qalqiliya? .... it's
not what it was. It's now Hamas." What that has to do with vehicles
which usually flow freely from the city, without being checked, is
beyond us. The usual logic of the army, of the occupation. Instead
of being waved on, each vehicle is stopped, peered into, front as
well as trunk, and then proceeds. On soldier takes a break, smokes
while his companion takes over stopping and checking vehicles and
IDs. No attempt to speed up the process. The Gaulloise truck driver
that we know from other checkpoints calls out and waves to us, but we
don't' get a chance to ask how long he's been in line.
Into Qalqiliya, there are also at least 20 vehicles; Israeli vehicles
without proper permits are turned back, except for one, a minivan
whose driver sweet talks the reservist that he passes here every day,
without problems.

14:05 -- a Hummer arrives, bearing more soldiers, and then there were
eight. The line into Qalqiliya is no more, but the line from the city
continues to be endless, "We check from Qalqiliya, not to Qalqiliya"
we're told (the exact opposite of other weeks, but who ever said
there was any logic to this Occupation)!

Along Route 55

14:30 -- Mount Gilad: hidden blue police jeep, the so-called
custodians of law and order are but a kilometer from the blatantly
illegal activities of the Jewish settlers.

Pink House (opposite Kedumim)

The first floor of this one storey pink building is visible, as is a
rapidly rising second floor where three men are seen to be laying
cinder blocks. A large, shrink wrapped pile of these grey bricks lies
on the pathway up to the house. A teen age woman stands by the road,
waiting for ride. The house itself is surrounded by many new signs,
some in Hebrew, some in English, including, "The Land of Israel
belongs to the people of Israel." Orange windsocks flutter in the
breeze, not only on this house, but on a stone building behind it.
Yes, George Bush left a day earlier, and his visit, as we knew, made
not the slightest difference to the OPT, other than empowering those
who are already empowered.

17:00 Anabta

Traffic in both directions flows freely, cars with Israeli license
plates, as well as Palestinian vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

17:20 Ar-Ras

Little traffic in either direction, but taxis are stopped randomly,
IDs checked.

Village of Jubara

An incongruous sight. Two fine looking horses, one being led, atop
the second a man in a cowboy hat, using a mobile phone!