'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Qalqiliya, Sun 26.10.08, Afternoon

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Alix W., Ruthie W. Z., Susan L. (reporting)


"The Incredible Lightness of Being" (Milan Kundera) is about pain and suffering. Little "lightness" about it, or about the Occupation. Today, in particular, the Occupation felt particularly heavy and dark and weighty, a sense of catastrophe seemingly never far off. So, today, it was the incredible heavy darkness of being.

12:45 Qalqiliya

After the rain, little traffic in either direction. A car bearing Israeli (yellow) plates is stopped, the ID of the driver checked against a list. Meanwhile, a Hummer arrives, hoots noisily, for no apparent reason, the soldiers inside singing lustily. Out steps a sergeant who goes over to the Israeli car and makes it turn around as one of the passengers, a woman, makes her way wearily across the checkpoint towards Qalqiliya where there's not a taxi in sight. The soldiers from the Hummer emerge and begin to clap rhythmically and loudly, stomping also on an invisible table on the other side of the checkpoint. Finally, food is taken from the Hummer, so that the army of the Occupation can now march on its stomach! As we return to our car, an arm is thrust out of the window of a settler car, on its way to Zufim,  giving us the finger...

13:15 Azzun

The mounds of earth which appeared last week, once again enclosing the town of Azzun, have grown and the dark earth is reinforced by some new, whitish building rubble.

Shvut Ami

‘Neath the trees by the deserted outpost, two border police cars. On the hill opposite, nothing remains of the Sukka, and further down the hill, just the detritus of outpost youth.

15:30 Anabta

A long, long line of vehicles stretch as far as the eye can see towards Tulkarm. Greeting us here, as at Beit Iba earlier, the infamous piece of red construction paper with the following:

 תודה לווטש במחסום על עזרתכן להצלחת מאבקנו -- פעילי תנועות הטרור



                                      TERROR MOVEMENT ACTIVISTS

Here, at the checkpoint, it's tacked on with black insulating tape to the soldiers' position in the middle of the roadway. They stand, nonchalantly, waving on the traffic into Tulkarm. We immediately tell them that such a poster is forbidden. "This sign is part of the spirit of the checkpoint" one of the soldiers tells us. One of us tries to take the offending poster from the plastic window of the position, but a soldier's hand forces us away. Instead, we call MW lawyers once again (the second time this afternoon and for the same reason). As we do so, the commander, no rank badges on his shirt, and whose name, he tells us, is O., comes over, informing us that, "This is my checkpointinfo-icon." As he says this, one of the soldiers says that a way to show us who is king of the heap here is to close the checkpoint. This the soldiers do. No cars are allowed to pass into Tulkarm, and the huge line of vehicles trying to cross the checkpoint in the other direction grows longer and longer. We are ordered away from the checkpoint, but instead stand at the side, and after about four minutes the soldiers again allow so-called freedom of movement. No checking. Gradually the long line from Tulkarm lessens, and we make our way back to the car. 

The one lightness of the afternoon: a shepherd with a snow white kaffiyeh, a flock of brown sheep, black goats and a grey donkey around him, plus snowy white egrets fluttering about the once marshy valley that was Anabta. We wave and our faith in humanity is relieved - for a while.

16:15 Gate 753 and A-Ras

Both checkpoints see remarkably little action. At A-Ras, the soldiers don't even bother to stand at their positions, and the soldier in the crow's nest is on the phone (facing towards Jubara, so not on duty at all), whereas at Gate 753 the three soldiers want to know from us, "Hey, what's going on, anything interesting?" Lightness of being on their part, that's for sure...