'Anabta, 'Azzun, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 9.11.08, Afternoon
A short and not at all sweet shift. All over the OPT, particularly outside the Jewish colonies, the garish, fluorescent coloured printed signs, declaring that "Jewish soldiers are for Jews." In the Hebrew, it's clear that the Jews in question are male. And, indeed, the soldiers today are decidedly not for Jewish women who happen to be MachsomWatchers -- but violently against them.
Lines of vehicles, in both directions dissipate as we get to the checkpoint. A blue police jeep and an army truck examine an Israeli car (yellow license plates) atop a vehicle carrier in the large empty lot by the checkpoint. The vehicles carrier leaves a few minutes later, dragging yet another car behind it. The police jeep follows.
13:35 -- at the checkpoint, an Israeli SUV (yellow license plates) is thoroughly examined, a baby seat taken out of the back of the car, after which the car is made to turn round. The passenger tells us that a close relative in Qalqiliya has died, and that he and his brother were on their way there. Now, they have to park their car, make their way on foot across the checkpoint and go by taxi into the city.
We call over to the soldiers and wonder why the men can't go into Qalqiliya. The response -- the soldiers berate us for talking to the man. We protest, saying we're now trying to talk to them (the soldiers). "We don't talk to you, and you don't talk to us. We do our job, and you do yours."
The huge earth mound closing off the town from the world has again been torn down, courtesy of the IDF. The locals tell us this happened last Thursday-Friday. Until the next time.
The traffic flows smoothly, fewer vehicles than usual from Tulkarm, few to Tulkarm, but we experience a similar story here as at Qalqiliya. Three of the four soldiers take on the role of the commander, telling us we can't stand where we always do, "You annoy us, we can't check cars if you stand there; we will call the police, etc." The commander, "he's the real one" we're told, sidles over and tells us that we can stand beyond the checkpoint: a new experience, we've never gone that far!
On the way back to the car, we meet the usual coffee man, carrying his two urns of coffee. His view is that, "The new soldiers are good, as they clear up traffic jams quickly."
The soldiers at the checkpoint find it hard to look up or to do much of anything. They tell us to go over and wait at the gate. "We have to check about permission." Our words as to what is common and usual fall on deaf ears, and we stand for the next almost 15 minutes at the gate leading up to the village. First one of us goes over to the soldiers to find out what is going on, and then the other. All to no avail. The commander insists he knows all about MachsomWatch, but phones to get a permit. In the end, we're told that we're "not authorized," and that we "can't use that road either (meaning the security road)!
By the gate, we're greeted by a brand new traffic light which is green -- but not for us! There's also a brand new concrete position for a soldier to stand on, but it's unfinished and so minus a soldier or soldiers.