Beit Iba, Jit, Sun 6.1.08, Afternoon

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Alix W., Susan L. (reporting)


The adage "necessity is the mother of invention," is usually taken to
mean that if someone really needs something or has a problem, he/she
will find a way of doing or solving it. The Occupier's needs in the
Occupied Palestinian Territories have given rise to the invention of new devices, such as building
a better mousetrap, if you like, to ensnare his captives. There is no
dearth to the Occupier's imagination, skill or creativity in devising
ingenious solutions to deal with the so-called dire situation he
finds himself in. Throughout this decades-old Occupation, there is
lots of evidence proving that to carry on this morally wrong
subjection of another people, the Occupier's requirements as well as
his wishes, cause necessity to be the mother of invention.

14:15 Deir Sharaf

We hear of Nablus being closed for three days and of the fear and
damage caused by the Occupier's soldiers. And not only in the Kasbah.
We hear of a babyinfo-icon being teargassed, of soldiers entering and damaging
people's houses – and not only in the Kasbah. So much for our media!
For three days, people could not get in or out of the city: complete
curfew. No wonder we heard from two sources today of the desire to
get out completely, to leave, to find a way of living where there is
life, where there is a means to have an existence. Not here. Not
with this Occupier. Not ever….

14:40. Beit Iba

The Occupier's representative at the checkpoint, once again second
lieutenant Y., shrugs off the curfew, noting only that there are not
many people today. Not true. There are 50-60 lined up at all times
behind turnstile number one (younger men) and countless numbers of
women, older men and teachers, judges, doctors, etc. – those allowed
in the humanitarian line. What is true is that there are few vehicles
leaving Nablus, and few entering. On the other hand, the Occupier is
represented by 15 (fifteen) soldiers and one dog, whose kennel now
sits proudly in the center of the new, improved checkpoint.

Pedestrian checking: what's new this week? There are now two
manometers, so, in theory, two turnstiles could lead to two
manometers. Logical? Yes, but the Occupier knows no logic. Only the
language of Occupation which is harassment and humiliation, and only
one turnstile in use but two ID checkers on duty inside the booth in
the center of this military operation.

The noise at the pedestrian checking area is awful. The manometers go
off all the time with their high pitched "shrieks." A sergeant shouts
non-stop to the men lined up: "Take off your belts, take out your
mobile phones," so they wait, beltless, at the turnstile, then move,
books or briefcases in hand to the checking table, or to the two
shelves set up on either side of the main checking booth, parallel to
the manometers. Behind one of these shelves, a soldier stands, his
gun pointed straight at those waiting to be checked. When not in this
position, we see this particular soldier studying each man's mobile
phone, often for over five minutes, playing with its buttons,
flicking through its messages: heaven knows what. Another invention,
another intrusion into Palestinian lives. Yet, what we see on the
faces before us is "sumud." What choices are left to these people?
Other items, including wallets are passed through the manometer by
this particular soldier while the military policewoman at the
checking table rummages in the bags and briefcases and shouts and
shouts, together with her sergeant colleague.

Meanwhile, there are many soldiers other than those at the pedestrian
checking area. Their main occupation, besides Occupation, seems to be
joking and chatting with each other. A lieutenant has arrived, and he
joins in the merrymaking in the center of the checkpoint as the
soldier dog handler and her dog are carrying out their "mission" on
the far side of the checkpoint. Here, a pick up truck, its three
occupants on the sidewalk, a distance away, stand and watch the dog
lick under hood, under the truck and, of course, wander all over the
seats and the cab inside. This "operation" takes ten minutes or so,
after which, duty done, the dog is placed back in his kennel and the
soldiers can return to joshing with their colleagues as the few
passing vehicles wait to be checked.

The commander, a not unreasonable soldier, with no influence on the
soldiers he's supposed to be commanding, tells us that mobile phones
have been found to have "pictures of women soldiers" or "Hamas
individuals." Dream on, we think to ourselves…. As for everybody's
phone being checked, "only suspicious individuals."

15:05 -- in the humanitarian line, no turnstile, just a soldier in a
booth at the end. We see that men are turned back if under 45, and
women are joined by many small children. A young woman with a small
girl has her Jordanian passport examined by a soldier who stares and
stares at it, turns its pages, obviously not knowing what to do,
other than keep everybody waiting. On questioning by us, as to what's
wrong, he waves her on and goes on, uncomprehending in his Occupier's
role. A man with a small, but heavy piece of equipment for a car,
tells the soldier that he's a taxi driver in Deir Sharaf and he
needed this part fixed. Not allowed, says the soldier. Commander Y.
is called, says he knows the driver, and the taxi driver passes,
complete with his motor vehicle replacement.

15:30 -- suddenly Y, the commander, changes the rules. Everybody over
35 years of age can now enter the humanitarian line, and it fills up
rapidly, and a doctor complains about the length of time it now takes
to pass. But there's no manometer, no mobile phone inspection, no
beltlessness here! And the line behind the turnstile, of younger men,
remains as long as before. All the time we're here there have been
two men in the distant detention compound (no way we can get near
these days). One is about to be picked up by the Shabak (General
Security Services), the other, we're told, will be let go soon.

16:00 Jit Junction

A line of 15 vehicles, a Hummer placed at the junction with the road
leading to Beit Iba, but no checking from the Zaatra direction. From
the taxi in front of us emerge two young men, needing a smoke: they
encourage us to get out of the line, to overtake, behave settler
style, and pass through to the head of the line. We do so.