'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 1.2.09, Afternoon
"I couldn't care less" was a phrase we heard a number of times today. Something in the air? A Palestinian carpenter who just wants to get on with his craft "couldn't care less about elections." The response of a reservist soldier to the Australian Open Final result evoked a similar, more understandable, response. On the other hand, another reservist, insisting on engaging in a discussion about Gaza showed just how much he cared, and just how much hw valued the life of one (Israeli) compared to the lives of many (children) - who happened to be Palestinian. Of course, at one level, this caring or not caring has to do with concern or interest in anything or anybody other than the self, showing a complete indifference to what's going on in the world, or any kind of ability to share in the suffering of others. At the same time, there's a feeling that certain vague but unpleasant emotions, manifested by moodiness, not being fond of anything much, are based on a fear or anxiety, experienced in anticipation of some kind of ill-defined misfortune. And this is shared by both occupied and occupier.
As last week, there are two yellow diggers working clearing the land on a hilltop near the settlement of Zufin, just above the separation barrier. We drive down to the checkpoint and see that vehicles, going both in and out, are thoroughly checked, so go back to our posting at the Qalqiliya checkpoint. No traffic problems in either direction. Immediately, the commander tells us we are in his way, that we are bothering him that he "can't survey all the area that I need to see" if we stand in our usual place. (Note: nothing about dangers that are likely if we stay where we are: that's another story, another time, another soldier).
No lines to Tulkarm and from the city, a long, long line. Reservists who seem loose about their task are yet thorough in stopping each vehicle, asking whence they're headed and why if Israeli (yellow) plates. The line from Tulkarm remains as long as ever during the time we're stationed here.
Practically no line to leave the OPT. This time we're subjected to a thorough search of our car, the back passenger seat, as well as the trunk and our IDs examined (same soldier as last week) plus a youngish volunteer who seems to be in the OPT merely, so he says, so he doesn't need to live with his parents!
By the checking station, MW's lawyers seem, yet again, not to have succeeded with the Legal Consultant to Judea and Samaria: a small green homemade card, with flags, extolling "our" soldiers. This time, the soldier opens the gate quickly, but insists that on our return from A-Ras, we call him, and "I will come when I hear you." Or, he suggests, we call the DCL office! What does he care!
Returning from A-Ras some time later: we again wait a long time, hoot and holler and are made to wait, less than the ten minutes of last week, but certainly five, at least.
Four relaxed seeming reservists, none at the southern end of the checkpoint where the huge pothole is now filled with brownish water, and it's deep! Thorough checking of private vehicles and taxis from Tulkarm, the soldiers rummaging through the trunks.
Also at A-Ras, a broken down blue pick up truck, no wheels, no window, nothing: the kind one sees dumped and abandoned on some city streets - sometimes. What's the story? (and story it is): "It was used to transport those trying to cross into Israel." We listen, silently, in amazement. No way on earth could anyone have driven that piece of junk, but what do the soldiers care? It's yet another story. They've heard it, and they repeat it, questioning nothing.