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Palestinian reality

The team that will replace us here in Tulkarem has arrived. Friday we showed them the check points we are monitoring. Usually it is calm on Fridays during Ramadan in this area (not to be confused with the situation at the terminals surrounding Jerusalem). 

Queue

Queue, the new team reckons

But at this Friday they decided to close one of the check points in close to two hours while we were there. Then you have chaos even at a quiet Friday with queue as far as you can see in both directions. The excuse was a “terror alert” and a military mission in the Tulkarem area. Information regarding how long it would last were not given an some rumors was saying it could would be closed rest of the day. The only ones that were let trough were a lady and her child. This was after crying in front of the soldier for couple of minutes.

There were also flying check points*. Neither those are nice to look at. In other words it turned out to be a brutal meeting with part of the nature of the occupation for the new fellows.

Organizing

Flying check point: First like this…

Pointing gun

And then like this… It seems like a big share of the soldiers has a urgent lack of ordinary body language. A little later they were guiding the traffic by sitting in their vehicle and screaming from a load speaker.

*) flying check point is a check point established temporary on the road between the permanent check points on the West Bank.

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War 2, Nablus

I mentioned that it appeared to be more than normal military traffic in and out of Nablus last week. The people there are used to military activities more or less daily and especially in the night, but it was more than usual the last week. In our program we don’t approach the refugee camps while the military is there. However, today, a few days after it has calmed down a bit, we found our way to get an impression of what has gone on there. See video:

Someone else was braver and recorded some of it when it actually happened. After 27 of 64 seconds, or the freeze picture before the start, in the video below a glimpse of the demolition in the video above is shown.

Then compare the machine with that one shown under the heading “War” below and I have the pleasure of stating: “I was right” (“You don’t want this one in your garden”. A check of the dates shows that the machine shown under “War” was on its way to someone else)

Car Accident, See the Photos!

On my way back from a place called Yanoun I was once again involved in a traffic accident. Also this time I survived without any injuries, In fact, no one was hurt. As far as I understand it was four reasons for this crash:

  1. The old Mercedes I was in had bad breaks.
  2. The brand new Volkswagen Multivan in front of us had incredible breaks.
  3. The driver of the Mercedes didn’t keep proper distance to the vehicle in front.
  4. A group of military vehicles had decided to turn in the middle of the road and covered both lanes a place people normally drive 120 km/h (I know this from other trips I have been in new cars with speedometers that work)  

Accident2

 The driver of the Multivan inspects the scratches. The soldier to the lefts is wondering what’s going on. The antenna to the right indicates the direction of the military vehicle.

Car accident 2

After the while the military is ready to go back were they come from.

War

Sometimes it is obvious that this is a war and not only slowly degeneration. This is mostly through the media which tells about military raids in the refugee camps in the night, curfews, soldiers being captured or targeted by gunshot, rockets etc. Thursday was a day the machinery around this was very visible for us. On the check point it was heavy traffic with military vehicles. Jeeps, armored vehicles and also a power shovel.

Israeli Power Shovel

You don’t want this one in your garden. Read more about those who get visits like this at The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions or click here to look how it was when a identical machine were on duty in a town nearby a few weeks ago.

Inside one of the armored vehicles traveling into Nablus there were blindfolded persons, probably prisoners that were going to be set free. A couple of minutes earlier a big bus with partly opaque windows left the same city. It also contained blindfolded persons. The bus was accompanied with military vehicles with well equipped soldiers; among other special things they were wearing knee pads.

Parallel to this and stories about gunfire and bombardment in and towards the refugee camp in Nablus, the life goes on: Small but slow traffic out of the biggest city of the West Bank.

Beit Iba

This truck was number 20 in the queue when it arrived the check point. The photo is taken 1 hour and 45 minutes later at the moment it is number one in the queue

Information on Yom Kippur

This morning we were to an agricultural gate again (the Attil gate for locals). Nothing happened there. It was closed all the time. When I called the answer was that all gates at the West Bank are closed due to the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Sometimes they do this during holidays. One question is: Why didn’t they inform the farmers in advance?  My little private theory is that once you have put a group of people behind a barrier it doesn’t feels natural to respect them by giving proper information.

Attil Gate Yom Kippur

Farmers waiting for nothing. Jeremy (closest) is not a farmer but one of my colleges.

Thursdays

This morning we were at a different agricultural gate than those we have seen before. I am not an expert in farming, but something tells me that the opening hours might be a little strict here:

The atmosphere and some information on Zeita agricultural gate

Tourist

Israel and Palestine is a world of contrasts. It is also a world of information. Many people are coming here to explore. The problem is that many aren’t addressing attention to the same issues as me…

It is easy to get full of prejudice when coming from the hard life on the West Bank visiting the tourist circus in Israel. I get suspicious when tourist groups with identification costumes more remarkable than our vests are guided through stories more than 1000 years old. Does the guide tell about what happened in this neighborhood the last 60 years as our guide did? Do they have any idea about the situation in the Palestinian areas? Do they know anything about the status in this system of the guy selling ice cream outside the resort?

Tourists

The yellow hats watching the Dead Sea Scrolls 

Last Friday it was my turn to be the tourist and visit places on the ticket coupon of the Israeli tourist ministry. The first Friday of Ramadan. Do these people know what Ramadan is? Do they know that no Palestinian living on the West Bank is let through the barrier today?

Anyway, from my hotel in Betlehem it was impossible for me to avoid recognizing the last mentioned. Last time I approached the wall between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the morning I did it together with approximately 2000 persons from Bethlehem traveling to Jerusalem in order to make use of their work permits there. This morning I was alone. Numbers of police and militaries kept the people around 100 meters away from the entrance. Mainly old people that wanted to look for an opportunity to go to the al-Aqsa mosque to pray this holy day.

I experienced this, and may be the other guest at the hotel too. The tourist industry is not booming neither in Bethlehem nor other places on the West Bank. The exception is the Dead Sea where some Israel tourist resorts have been built up and were there aren’t check points in the way worth mentioning.

We visited Qumran which is the place the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. After this we visited Masada, an old Roman fort. Read more on Wikipedia or somewhere else. Quit interesting stories.

Masada 

View from Masada

I traveled with a german group and was in the car with a guy working as an water engineer in Gaza. He has traveled around the world dealing with water issues. In spite of this knowledge of water; He is also the man that dived into the Dead Sea the first time he was there. Considering the pain caused by the one and only droplet that entered my eye there I am glad he is still alive.

T-shirt
A t-shirt I didn’t buy


Norsk utgave     Look at the posts with videos

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