It is not clear what is going on. Since Annapolis, the checkpoints around Jerusalem have become worse. The situation is now intolerable. And there is no way to know what is happening or why, or how long it will last.
In my neighborhood, the checkpoint was supposed to have been removed weeks ago. Instead, it has only strengthened.
There are controls on leaving the area, and they have gotten worse and more stupid since the Annapolis meeting, then since the Jewish holiday of Hanukka, and then since the recent new Israeli wave of targetted killings in Gaza.
The wait to leave my area is now sometimes over 30 minutes. It is quite ususal to be behind 20 cars waiting to be checked, one by one. Once, the line of cars was backed all the way up the hill, perhaps a kilometer long. The wait lasted for hours.
What is new is that there are now controls on coming into my neighborhood. It is not clear why, or what the Israeli soldiers are looking for.
Yesterday was the first day. There was a full barricade across the one lane of the road entering my area. Two soldiers with rifles, one with a flashlight he shined in my eyes. Open the windows, he said. Then, he spoke in Hebrew. I don’t speak Hebrew, I said. Then he switched to English — which is an obligatory subject in the Israeli school curricula — and asked “Where are you going?”
What was the right answer? What was the wrong answer? No idea.
I am going up there, where I live, I replied. He moved his head in that direction, a dismissive gesture. “Go”, he said.
Today, a girl soldier standing with a man soldier, shined the light into my eyes. I stopped. She shined the light to look into the car. Then she flicked her hand dismissively. “Go”.
What was she looking for? Was she protecting the residents of Ar-Ram from Islamic Jihad terrorists being smuggled in from Jerusalem? It is unfathomable.
Islamic Jihad, or supposed Islamic Jihad, is being slaughtered in Gaza while we in Jerusalem go about our daily lives, while we go to the supermarket to do some shopping. Seven people killed today. Thirteen killed a day ago. Otherwise, life goes on as usual.
When I went through the checkpoint this morning, on my way into the supermarket in town, I saw a young Palestinian woman on foot, wearing a headscarf and jeans, arguing because she wanted to pass through the checkpoint. Three Israeli girl soldiers with rifles were upon her, shouting and pushing. It looked like a schoolyard brawl. A girls brawl in the courtyard recreation area. The men soldiers were standing back, and watching.
When it came to my turn to pass through the checkpoint, the soldier decided he needed to know where I came from in the States. Then he asked me to show him my visa.
I asked, “What is going on here? Why are you pushing that woman”.
“She tried to enter the checkpoint by force”, the soldier holding my passport said.
There were 15 armed Israeli soldiers standing around — but the way he sees it, this young Palestinian woman is trying to enter the checkpoint by force.
“But why is she being pushed and shoved?”, I asked.
“We do what we gotta do”, he said.
On the Islamic Jihad Front, I was struck by the tone of this IDF announcment this week: “This morning, in a joint IDF and ISA operation, Sami salid Rashid Zayud, an Islamic Jihad terrorist who planned the attempted mass terror attack on the Israeli home front in September 2002 was arrested. He was arrested in the village of Silat Al Harithiya , southwest of Jenin. Zayud planned to explode a vehicle carrying 400kg of explosives adjacent to a residential building, in order to kill as many of the residents as possible. The terror attack was thwarted when the vehicle was stopped at a Border Police checkpoint near Givat Ada. According to security assessments, the terrorists came from the area of Jenin and infiltrated into the Israeli home front in the Wadi Ara region.
During the operation today, IDF forces fired and identified hitting Zayud. He was taken to hospital for medical treatment”.
How is it that this wanted Islamic Jihad operative is wounded — then taken to the hospital? While in the meantime, in Gaza, they are simply murdered. No need to apprehend and try them … just eliminate them…
The same IDF announcement reported that “In IDF activity in 2007, 9 terror operatives from the Islamic Jihad in Northern Samaria were killed and 11 arrested”. So, some are killed outright, and some are not — why?
Then, the same IDF announcement lists the crimes that these killed and arrested people are supposed to have committed (though the evidence is never brought before a court and examined…) — and it appears that these crimes all took place a year or two ago:
“The main terror attacks carried out by the Islamic Jihad in Northern Samaria in the recent years:
25.02.05 – A suicide bombing at the “Stage” club in Tel Aviv- 5 people killed
2.07.05 – A suicide bombing at the “Hasharon” mall in Netanya- 5 people killed
5.12.05 – An additional bombing at the “Hasharon” mall in Netanya- 5 people killed.
26.10.05 – A suicide bombing at the market in Hadera- 6 people killed.
17.04.06 – A suicide bombing at Neve Sha’anan Street , near the old bus station in Tel Aviv -9 people killed”.
So — why did the IDF and ISA wait until now to go after those accused?