IS trains its soldiers in soft and effective sadism, not physically but psychologically. Every day, the mission of dozens of 18- to 20-year-old soldiers is to steal the time of hundreds of Palestinians of all ages, to grind it into battered nerves, missed appointments, uncertainty, canceled doctor appointments, late dinners with children. This order is implemented through the use of internal checkpoints on the West Bank – those with permanent infrastructure and those mobile, flying checkpoints. (Theft of time at the West Bank checkpoints is sadism of a slightly different form.)
The checkpoints are a deliberate, armed operation whose direct result is to shorten the active, creative life of Palestinians by, say, half an hour or an hour every day. The stolen time is invisible. It is impossible to touch and it does not bleed. The lost time is not for the Jews in traffic jams, so stopping life is not “news”. Even more so when it comes to routine activity, as opposed to the new. In the end, except for blood, the press wants “exceptions” and everything that is unusual.
But writing about the ordinary is for this column. For example: On Tuesday, November 10, at 9:30 pm, a long line of cars was waiting behind a fixed military checkpoint at the northeastern exit of Ramallah – El Bireh. The tail of the line was in City Inn Square, on Nablus Road, the head was under the shed at the checkpoint, between its cement blocks, about 400 meters long. The car lights froze in place. I was traveling in the direction of Ramallah. The entrance lane through the checkpoint was clear. I saw from there in the exit lane a car being delayed, and two soldiers next to it. He did not move and all the cars behind him were stuck in place.
I did not stand aside until the queue of cars started moving. I did not get out of the car to ask the armed soldiers what was going on. This is a checkpoint that pedestrians are not allowed to pass through. I did not want to lay my own body on the line to see if the soldiers were following orders to stop a suspect (shouting “stop” and not immediately firing on a pedestrian). But even without questioning, I knew from experience: Such a long line that does not progress, at a time when there is no surge – has been stuck like this for a long time. No driver dared to hit and detect their irritation. The silence from the cars shouted some adjustment to the situation and obvious obedience. There was molten lava beneath it.
Three days later, on Friday, November 13, at around 4:15 pm, I was driving on the Beer Zeit – Nabi Saleh road. There were two rows of cars at the entrance to the small village of Atara: one facing the exit and one facing the village. Two armed soldiers stood in the middle. If there was a military jeep there – I did not notice it. The cars, wrapped in accordance, did not move.
And this time I did not stop. I was in a hurry and I was afraid that the soldiers would take revenge on the Palestinian drivers and make the delay longer if I started asking questions. I continued west. At the entrance to the village of Nabi Saleh, the same scene could be seen: Two rows of cars, two soldiers and cars waiting and waiting. On the same day, 16 flying checkpoints were set up on the West Bank. According to one of them, one person was detained, according to a report from the PLO negotiation department. On November 15, there were 18 flying checkpoints, and two days later, 12. How much power is there to do damage in the hands of two soldiers with rifles.
I sent the following questions to the ID spokesman: As for the permanent checkpoint – was this a specific car that was checked for a long time, and as a result a long line was formed or was it a routine check of each car? Has an arrest been made at the scene? When is the jam “cleared”? Why, when a car is late at this checkpoint, for whatever reason, is not set aside (for example, at the Hizma checkpoint where immigrants and other Israelis pass), so that dozens of other drivers do not suffer from the same delay?
As for the two flying checkpoints, I asked: “Are these routine checkpoints in this area on Friday?” If not, was there a specific reason for their placement in these two villages on Friday, and what was it? When and until when were those checkpoints set up that day? Were they arrested? ”
And this is an answer to the office of the IS spokesman – do not answer my questions: “The IS forces are carrying out a series of operational activities in order to protect the safety of residents [read, the settlers – A.H.] in the region of Judea and Samaria. As part of these activities, the forces set up mobile checkpoints on the road from time to time and carry out checks according to appropriate assessments of the situation and intelligence. This is an effective tool for surgery and often suspects and weapons are seized as a result of these operational activities. “It should be emphasized that along with the operational necessity of these activities, IS forces are making every effort to maintain the normal routine of road travelers.”
The normal routine of a foreign and forced military regime includes psychological abuse of subjects and their humiliation. The control over the time of the subjects complements the control over their land, only that time cannot be restored.