'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Tue 24.2.09, Afternoon
14:25 – Three "illegals"
[n Israel without a residence permit] are waiting at the exit from the
village. Two soldiers at the checkpoint, with their beards and long,
blond side curls, look as if they have come down here from another time
and place. They talk to us willingly and tell us about their job and
about their training course of the "Hesder Yeshivas" graduates
[Talmudical colleges whose students combine military service and religious
studies]. It is their first day at the checkpoints. The one supposed
to be the checkpoint commander claims he is unauthorized to let illegals
pass and go home before he gets permission from the Ar-Ras checkpoint
Two of the waiting illegals are 16 years
old and the third, a little older, begs that they let him pass promising
never to try and do it again. He has worked in picking up garbage, but
we are not quite sure where.
14:35 – For the soldiers here, it's
also the first time at the checkpoint. The commander doesn't dare to
release the illegals without getting permission from his commanders.
He has been told that the police have to take care of them. For us it
is something new. In the past the police wasn't involved in such cases.
At the checkpoint they check randomly
south going vehicles. Vehicles that come from the south are not checked
but have to go by the checkpoint that has been unmanned for months and
now just blocks the way. Driving on the damaged road shoulders gives
low vehicles terrible shakes.
15:00 – Back at Jubara checkpoint.
The three illegals are gone. According to the soldiers, they have gone
back to the village. They have probably understood they'd rather avoid
encountering the police.
15:20 – Fifteen vehicles are waiting
at the entrance to Tulkarm and 12 at the exit. Although the checks are
random the passage proceeds at a slow pace and within 10 minutes the
number of cars waiting to enter Tulkarm is 30. the checkpoint commander,
who refuses to talk to us and says he doesn't have to answer any question,
gets to work and sends the long line streaming without inspection.
Huge military bulldozer and excavator
are at work, accompanied by a group of soldiers. In the area west of
the road leading to the checkpoint, attract our attention. We watch
them as they root out olive trees, having witnessed the uprooting of
5 or 6 trees. When we ask questions about it the Israeli citizen who
is there with them, he claims he is only a worker and isn't responsible
for what is done. The officer who accompanies them explains that the
reason is broadening the road into a four-lane highway. Eleven trees
have been uprooted and she assures us that this is it. However, if they
intend to broad the road, they will have to uproot another tens of trees
up to the junction.
Palestinian drivers who see what is going
on ask us difficult questions.
Unfortunately, we didn't have a camera
when we were there, but we made sure to report on it that very evening.