Huwwara, יום ד' 4.3.09, בוקר

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Natalie (visitor), Naomi L., and Edna K. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translation:  Suzanne O.

Dedicated to Vivi.

"It's my first time", the boy whose father took him for the first time to a brothel for a taster shouted excitedly.

"My first, my first, Gadsi (the female commander) come and see.  My first."

That was what was heard from the loudspeakers throughout the whole area of Huwwara roadblock, the loudspeakers broadcast the shouts of joy over the heads of the shocked people queuing at the turnstiles, all the way to the taxi rank by Nablus and right up to the queuing cars.

Excited soldiers came out of their concreted positions to the one whose first time it was, entered his position, patted him on the shoulder, "well done, mate".

For weeks he sits inside his position, checking ID after ID and eagerly watching all his mates busy with an orgy of finding terrorists, handcuffing them, leading them to the cell and passing them into the hands of the Shabak.  And only he, what a shame, everyone turns out to be clean when he finds them.

But today, as he left for the roadblock the sun shone on him, and he knew.  "Today something good is going to happen to me".  And so it was.

A young man, well dressed, just like a terrorist, came up 'bingo' and he couldn't keep his joyful shouts at his good luck to himself.

The fairly quiet queue was crawling along anyway.  The humanitarian lane was quick.  The queue of younger men was held up for between an hour and a half and two hours.  But now, with all the celebration, nothing moved at all.

I went to the side to watch the celebration.  If I had gone a moment earlier the commander would have shouted (there was another commander apart from Gadsi):  close the roadblock everyone, no one crosses until she leaves.  Now he had nothing left to threaten.  Everyone was busy congratulating their colleague and no one was working.

Meanwhile a young man arrives claiming that yesterday he was detained from six in the evening until ten thirty.  At ten thirty, after the roadblock was closed, he was told he could leave.  What about his ID card he asked.  Come back tomorrow and you'll get it.  Now tomorrow has arrived and he has come to get it.  But no one knows what he is talking about.  And no one has time to think about it.  After all, their colleague has just lost his virginity so what do they care about some document belong to someone who was detained yesterday for four and a half hours.

After two and a half hours of searching his ID was returned to him.

But, until the lost document was found, the celebrations were at their peak.  The young terrorist was led to the cell.  From the other side of the fence we saw him told to raise his shirt, turn up his trousers, turn out his pockets and take off his shoes.  A special soldier arrived to smell his shoes, perhaps he was from the Border Police dogs?

Apparently his shoes were not very smelly because they were returned to him.

After a while the soldiers realised that they were in terrible danger.  Once again they returned to the door of the cell, again the rolling up of the trousers, shirt and pockets and removing shoes.

This time no one smelled them.  It seems once was enough.  I told Natalie, the young girl who was with us (French with a cute accent): now they'll handcuff and blindfold him. 

What, said Natalie, they can't!

Without asking Natalie's permission they did handcuff and blindfold him and led him to the front of the cell, the side facing the inner side of the roadblock.

Natalie could not bear it.  She ran over to them shouting, you are not allowed to do that.  The soldiers were astounded, is there something they are not allowed to do?  It is allowed they told her.  We can do anything we like.  And to prove it they shut the roadblock down until she left.  She left with tears in her eyes.  It was her first time too.

We drove to Huwwara village.  The young man, Isam, who we met as he left the roadblock after queuing for an hour and who begged us to come and visit, gave a hint as to why people are being held up for so long at the roadblock.

The soldier joked with me he said.  He pointed to the female soldier sitting next to him and asked Isam if he would like to marry her.  Isam answered that no, he would not like to marry her and she got angry and held him up there for about ten minutes and didn't call anyone else forward to cross the turnstile while she punished him.  Who knows.  Perhaps there was a matter of baffling virginity there as well.