21-7-2007 Saturday morning
Summary: Emptiness, very little movement, no life, humiliation.
There is a large amount of yellow cabs at a new parking lot by the checkpoint. Taxi drivers compete for a few potential passengers. A taxi driver approaches us and asks for our help in getting running water and toilets. The occupier 'generously' arranged such a well signed-posted parking lot with clear markings in blue and white colors where parking is allowed but underemployed drivers who await passengers for the whole day in blazing sun want more.
The passage through the checkpoint seems to be rather quick, but passing men tell us they have been waiting between 15 min to one hour. Each man has to take off his trousers belt, present his ID and open all belongings. One should do it in a relaxed manner with a pleasant expression on one's face. Otherwise, as we witnessed, a young man is taken to a closed cabin and a soldier performs a body search. We asked this man how the search was done. 'Oh, nothing special' said the young man, ' I just had to take my trousers and shoes off, and the searching soldier asked me why I am so nervous, and I told him that this is my nature, I can do nothing about it.'
One could imagine that one is in a third world airport and has to undergo checking before getting into an airplane, but no, this is 'normal' checking on the way to a visit to an auntie, to work, or to some other daily arrangements.
10 a.m Atara (Northern entrance to Ramallah)
The movement of cars is scarce. There is a summer holiday for schools and students. Nobody goes to the seashore, because it is not allowed to Palestinians to go there, and now, this summer, access was denied to Palestinian families even to that last small stretch of the Dead Sea shore. Border policmen are bored and want to speak with us. The policeman that approaches is a nice chap. He lives in a nearby settlement. He has an excellent job so near his home. 'There is relaxation in checking, explains this soldier. We are ordered to make only sample-checking'. These are clearly the good will gestures for Abu-Mazen.
Unpublished response letter to the Economist
by Nina Mayorek
In your evaluation of the situation of Palestinians after Hamas takeover of the Gaza strip, you (and others in the Western media) forget to mention one of the critical factors - the lack of interest in Israel in any peace and coexistence arrangements with Palestinians.
Israel is really happy with the present situation –the economy is booming, Palestinian suicide bombing is nil for over a year, some shelling on Sderot provides a pleasant boost for a constant feeling of victim-hood and a very much needed argument that 'we also suffer'. The 2.4 million Palestinians in the West Bank cannot produce or transport their own goods because of permanent closure maintained by the Israeli army, therefore they constitute a profitable market for the Israeli products. The Jewish settlements flourish metaphorically and literally all over the occupied territories – with a high standard of living subsidized by the Israeli government, and flowers blooming at the well-guarded entrances.
Palestinians can only beg to get a working permit to build settlement villas and fences, and to water their gardens. The present name of the game is: 'if we would wish to return territories, there is nobody to take them' replacing the previous mantra of 'no partner'. Hand shakes with Abbas in Jerusalem and Sharm A Sheih and periodic announcements of easing of movement restrictions (never implemented on the ground) just provide cover for clear intentions to perpetuate the occupation and the
exploitation of Palestinians.
Even if all Palestinians stand in row with olive branches and beg for peace, they will get nothing. Israel is too happy with the situation to make any concessions unless the real friends of Israel will force it to make them. Otherwise terrible bloodshed is forthcoming.
Further reading on Nina Mayorek: