'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  perfect 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 desultory fashion

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 the "I- will- not- build settlements" mantra: after all, this may be a case of  only "natural growth." But we're reminded that whatever has happened in the broader arena of events in the past weeks, be it the incursion into Gaza or the inauguration of a new President in the 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 hand.

13:00 -- the seven or eight vehicles in the other direction, from Qalqiliya,  have now increased, and we can no longer see the end of the line. But within the next ten minutes, the thorough checking 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 can't stand there. As he tells us this, we view a large police van, followed by a yellow taxi, driven by a blue shirted policeman, drive down the security road. We wait at the gate and five minutes later, the same solider who'd greeted us before, opens the gate. On our return, it takes ten minutes of hollering and shouting before he deigns to come over, incurring the wrath of the border police checking cars going 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 a "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! Brilliant.