'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 25.1.09, Afternoon

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Alix W., Susan L. (reporting)


Bigger is better seems to be a prevailing
theme here. Many people
think that bigger is better, be it a vehicle, a home
or one's chest,
as well as a bigger and better position or job; yet others
may study
how to create a bigger and better business strategy or how to
the building of a bigger and better occupation in the OPT.

12:05 Gate 1393 to/from Habla

The gatesinfo-icon are still open, as they
should be, an army jeep is already
present, a cart and horse pass as one man
waits and waits. At 12:14
an Israeli (yellow license plates) jeep drives up,
a man steps out and
hands over an envelope to the waiting Palestinian who's
now standing
in the middle of the security road. The soldiers look on in

12:35 Qalqiliya

A new sight greets our eyes:
atop the hill, north of the security road
leading to Zufin, but east of the
military camp, there are two yellow
diggers working clearing the land.
Already the hilltop is bare of its
shrubs, or maybe of its olive trees. We
can see a newly built
restraining wall, in the bright white local stone and
two caravans
behind it. A settlement in the making? Or, merely an extension
of the
Occupier's already built up areas?! Who knows? Possibly a case of
"I- will- not- build settlements" mantra: after all, this may be
case of only "natural growth." But we're reminded that whatever
happened in the broader arena of events in the past weeks, be it
incursion into Gaza or the inauguration of a new President in
U.S., this occupation will be bigger and better than ever…

At the
checkpoint are reservists, one in shirtsleeves, the other,
maybe the
commander, with bullet proof vest. They let most cars go
through into
Qalqiliya without checking, leaving that to the fancier
ones, e.g., a new
Mercedes or a shiny BMW. Israeli cars (yellow
license plates) are checked
against a list. Grocery trucks are all
made to open their interiors for
inspection. Taxis with more than one
or two passengers are thoroughly
checked, and one soldier seems to put
his nose into everything as his mate
stands, clinging tightly to his
gun which he points at whoever is nearest at

13:00 -- the seven or eight vehicles in the other direction,
Qalqiliya, have now increased, and we can no longer see the end
the line. But within the next ten minutes, the thorough
ceases, as do the lines.

15:20 Anabta

No lines to
Tulkarm and from the city, a steady stream which is
shorter than usual.
Israeli vehicles (yellow license plates) appear
not to be stopped going into
Tulkarm, but one SUV is stopped and has
to open up the back of his vehicle
for inspection.

On a road leading away from Anabta, in the Jubara
direction, a road,
for years blocked against any incursion on the apartheid
road, is open
(we know that), but it's special to see two delivery trucks
pass each
other on the narrow mountain hillside. Normalcy in the OPT? It
can't be!

16:00 Jubara

We don't' have time to greet the soldier
at the checkpoints he barks,
"You can't go through the gate." He mutters
something about a lost
key, tells us to wait in the center of the checkpoint
where we are, of
course, told by the usual policeman in the blue jeep that we
stand there. As he tells us this, we view a large police van,
by a yellow taxi, driven by a blue shirted policeman, drive down
security road. We wait at the gate and five minutes later, the
solider who'd greeted us before, opens the gate. On our return,
takes ten minutes of hollering and shouting before he deigns to
over, incurring the wrath of the border police checking cars
into the OPT.

Abu Ghatem and family are no longer permitted to
cross at Jubara,
since there can be "no exceptions," and now have to make
their way to
A-Ras to get to Tulkarm. Go figure: of course, it's the time for
"better Occupation."

The line of vehicles trying to get back behind
the Green Line is endless.

16:10 A-Ras

The holes at the makeshift
checkpoint at A-Ras are bigger than ever.
The soldiers there now number five
not three. At Gate 753 there are four.

At A-Ras, a blue police jeep, a
different one from Jubara, and a
soldier tells of a man being found, "a short
while ago," (this
morning) with bullets, the kind used for hunting. Clearly,
such a
discovery deserves an Occupation…

Vehicles coming from the
south, from Qalqiliya, are now checked at the
far checking booth (that's
new), meaning, they have to slither down
into the huge pothole which is now
bigger and better than ever. And
the Occupier has now found a use for it!