On our way to the Hawara checkpoint near Nablus on Monday, a report on the radio had it that the army reached a compromise with Hebron settlers who agreed to evacuate a cluster of homes as long as they hold the right to return pending a High Court decision on the matter.
We looked at each other and smiled. No one wants to mess with settlers. But we were in for a surprise when we realized where the IDF and the police invest their time and energy.
With your permission I narrate an incident that happened to me yesterday and I leave it for you to decide who the liar is - us or the police.
I can imagine that being a soldier at a checkpoint is a difficult job indeed, especially when a group of nuisances are observing whether you respect the most basic human rights of people crossing the checkpoint.
Machsom Watch monitors IDF checkpoints in the Palestinian territories every day in coordination with the army. Organization leaders are in regular contact with IDF officers to report to the public on our military’s conduct towards the Palestinians across the West Bank.
On Monday, a group of Machsom Watch activists arrived at the Hawara checkpoint. An edgy officer instructed his soldiers not to speak to any of us. We stood next to a group of Palestinians and looked on.
We approached a couple of taxi drivers who told us that they had been “punished” and ordered to stand in the corner at checkpoint. Their IDs were confiscated.
We told soldiers that the army has no right to punish Palestinian civilians, but our words fell on deaf ears. The officer event turned
Our incessant nagging prompted a soldier to threaten calling the police should we not leave the checkpoint, in breach of an agreement between our organization and the IDF that Machsom Watch activists can monitor army checkpoints.
We decided to leave. On our way back a police jeep stopped us and accused us of having “irritated a civil servant.”
We were stranded near the jeep for half an our as police officers decided to stop each Palestinian car coming from Hawarra, treating Palestinians who have spent at least 2 hours at the exit from Nablus for another mini-checkpoint.
We were moving again after the police decided to transfer us to the Ariel police station for interrogation. There a policewoman accused us of insulting soldiers at Hawara. Needless to say, our group of women activists never shouted “Nazis, scumbags!” at soldiers as the policewoman argued.
'Maybe the police should focus on law enforcement'
To our surprise we were even charged with breaching a military order banning Israeli citizens from entering the West Bank.
Funny. The signature of the IDF commander who signed the order banning Israeli civilians from Palestinian area also appears on an IDF document stating that soldier may not punish Palestinian civilians and also on an agreement between the army and Machsom Watch that allow our activists access to checkpoints.
Tired with arguing with the police, we decided to go home with restriction order banning us from entering the West Bank for two weeks. It seems that Israeli civilians are not entitled to know of the actions of their military and police in the occupied territories.
In fact, it was not the first time that Machsom Watch women are accused of calling soldiers Nazis. But our women have always been cleared of any wrong doing. Reporting false accusations seems to make life easy for some.
Next time you dial 100 and no one answers you can be sure that our blue-dressed men and women are busy protecting you from a bunch of left-wing women trying to collect some information that you’d rather not know about.
The police issued a statement saying, “Three Machsom Watch women were tracked after reports that they harassed IDF soldiers on duty. One of the women who were tracked is a reporter for Ynet who made cynical use of her position. We see this manipulation harmful to her professional ethics.”
Maybe the police should focus on law enforcement, avoid dealing with bluffs coordinated with the IDF and leave the issues of journalism and ethics to others.