A checkpoint turns on its creators
After long years of maltreatment of Palestinians, the checkpoints are beginning to exact a price from the occupation as well. The best proof of this has come from the IDF, ironically enough, which has announced that it is reexamining their necessity and effectiveness.
The boundaries of the concept of terror have been stretched even further in recent days. An attack on armed soldiers at a checkpoint that for over a year has robbed area residents of their freedom of movement, and at which Palestinians have been killed, was defined as a terror operation (Ma'ariv called it a "massacre"), while the bombing of Palestinian cities, the killing of dozens of civilians (including a mother and her daughter), the blowing up of broadcasting stations that was captured by the camera of the army magazine Bamahane and the revenge assassinations of Palestinian police officers at checkpoints - were defined as legitimate security operations.
These word games we play with ourselves, however, cannot change the fact that the Israeli occupation has over the past several days begun to turn on its creators. First it was the tragic death of Duvdevan commander Lieutenant Colonel Eyal Weiss when an army bulldozer pushed a wall onto him during the demolition of a Palestinian house. Next came the fatal assaults on soldiers at checkpoints , bringing the news that the occupation, in the words of the current slogan, is killing us all.
Anyone who has seen one of the dozens of Israel Defense Forces checkpoints dotted throughout the West Bank, especially in recent months, cannot help but marvel at the sight: no more than two or three Israeli soldiers facing an unending line of hundreds of angry and desperate drivers and slowly directing the nearly static traffic. The soldiers are in no rush whatsoever; I once saw a soldier at a checkpoint who sat down to read a newspaper, getting up to let the next car through only after he had finished.
The feelings of anger, bitterness and animosity sown there have grown and grown. The only outlet allowed to the drivers was an occasional deafening chorus of horn blasts that only resulted in a further slowdown by the soldiers, until the noise abated. It was almost impossible to understand how such humiliation and ill treatment did not ignite a much greater flame, how tens of thousands of drivers behaved with such submission before a handful of soldiers who made their lives so difficult. But the soldiers posed a huge threat. Civil disobedience was not an option, since it was obvious that the soldiers would respond by shooting. Did we believe that this would last forever? That we could continue to impede and impede and they would wait and wait, cowed and humiliated?
At the same checkpoints, thousands of inhabitants who only wanted to move around within the occupied territories were turned away. The sick, the elderly, children and women in labor - is there still a need to repeat the facts? - were cruelly and aggressively driven away. More than a few lost their lives: children who had thrown rocks at soldiers and were shot, drivers who tried to find alternate routes and were shot from a distance, and sick people whose strength failed them. Recently the Israeli Arab writer Salman Natoor described in a chilling way how he was once delayed for a long time at the Qalandiyah checkpoint while an ambulance siren wailed until it suddenly stopped. Natoor went to investigate and was told that the patient in the ambulance had died.
In light of all this, it was inconceivable to expect that the checkpoints, about which nearly everything has already been said and written, would not one day become the target of armed attacks. It was only a question of time and means; the motive has been there for a long time. After all, the checkpoints are not only one of the cruelest expressions of the Israeli occupation of the territories, but also the most prominent symbol of Israeli control over the daily lives of the Palestinians.
After long years of maltreatment of Palestinians, the checkpoints are beginning to exact a price from the occupation as well. The best proof of this has come from the IDF, ironically enough, which has announced that it is reexamining their necessity and effectiveness. A few of the checkpoints have already been removed. The terrible, arbitrary suffering caused to the Palestinians was not sufficient reason to look into the need for the checkpoints. The killing of the six soldiers was. Why didn't it take place before the Palestinians killed soldiers? Once again, Israel sent the bad old message to the Palestinians - that they can only achieve results with the use of force, that we understand only the language of violence.
The only goal of the Ein Ariq checkpoint was to embitter the lives of the nearby villagers, who were allowed to pass through it only on foot in order to satisfy a handful of settlers at Dolev. It should have been removed long ago, like all similar checkpoints. It had nothing to do with Israeli security, and its goal of making Palestinian lives more difficult was unacceptable. Now, when the checkpoint has turned on its creators, perhaps it will finally be eliminated.
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