Monday, January 30, 2006

Morning Travels - part #1

Originally I wanted to blog today about a miserable checkpoint I drove through last week from my side of the fence to the "Israeli" one. I took lots of pictures and thought it would be an interesting read.

However, driving to Jerusalem today took my entire appetite away from blogging about checkpoints, border crossings and driving to work.

One of the checkpoints I drive through is called "Chawara North." Its a checkpoint on road 60, just north of the Arab village, "Chawara." Chawara's not the friendliest of places; the 2 mosques are landmarks commonly used by settlers when calling the army if they are hit by rocks, Molotov cocktails, shooting attacks, road accidents, etc.

There's a roadblock of burning tires by the old mosque

I just got hit by rocks between the old and new mosques

There's a car stuck on the side of the road just after the new mosque, heading north.

Lately, the IDF has put up a new checkpoint to search for terrorists at the northern entrance of Chawara. Settlers are usually able to drive around the checkpoints rather freely, since we're not at all who the army is looking for -- we don't want to blow ourselves up (and please, no comments on apartheid).

This morning's checkpoint congestion was rather bad, and the Israeli minibus in front of the Muqatamobile was asked by the soldier to pull off to the side of the road. Normally, Jewish traffic isn't pulled over, but since it was a commercial minibus-type van, I guess the soldier wanted to see who was in it. Fair enough.

The driver started yelling at the soldier not to bother him. The soldier yelled back at him to pull over. I waited patiently.

More yelling...the minibus started to move to the side, but I guess not quick enough for the soldier.

Then it happened.

The soldier put his left hand on his M16 right next to the back sight of the rifle, and yanked back on a piece of metal, chambering a 5.56 caliber bullet into the M16.

It was now fully loaded, and ready to be shot.

Gun Rule #1: You only chamber a round into a weapon if you think you are going to need to shoot. You don't do this for fun.

He had just chambered a weapon and pointed it at a Jewish driven minibus.

An officer ran over from the other part of the checkpoint (leaving the entire checkpoint open for all to drive through) to calm down the soldier and the situation.

With the minibus on the side of the road, I drove on...feeling miserable at what I had just seen.

The driver should have been more understanding of the soldier's situation; its nerve racking at these checkpoints, and if the solider wants to stop him for a minute, then go with the flow. Don't yell at him or try to ignore him.

The soldier, even with the mission he's charged with, should never chamber a round into his M16 unless he's going to shoot his weapon. Frustration, even valid frustration is not an acceptable reason to chamber a round and point a weapon in someone's direction; and especially if its another Jew, where its obvious he's not a terrorist.

That was enough to keep me from posting what I wanted to. Maybe tomorrow or later today I'll post part #2, with lots of pictures...though still disturbing.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael


Jerusalemcop said...


I am without speech.


ifyouwillit... said...

Never had I heard of a driver refusing to be checked before. The army have a job to do and need the cooperation, that said, you're right, the loading of the gun was a step to far too, unless there is more to the story than we know about.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Ifyouwillit: I just reported the story as I saw it through my windscreen.

My passenger with me was rather shocked as well when he saw it happening.

Michael Lawrence said...

It always frustrates me to see Israelis lose patience with guards at cafes, banks, buses, checkpoints etc. Let's not forget why they are there in the 1st place and direct our anger and delays towards Hamas Inc, Snow White and the Seventy Virgins.


tafka PP said...

Great line, Michael!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Michael -

I always go out of my way to be as courteous as possible, since I've been on both sides of the story. You are right -- there is no excuse.


ifyouwillit... said...

TAFKAP: Michael always has a great line!

Jack Steiner said...

What a nervewracking situation.

Ezzie said...

Wow. I tensed up just reading this. It reminds me of a couple of friends of mine... my best friend was placed on guard duty outside the hesder yeshiva in Yeruchem. His job was to sit there with an unloaded M-1 rifle that was not fully assembled. If anything were to happen, he is supposed to try and get it assembled and loaded fast enough to get off a shot... but he's not really expected to stop a terrorist - only to slow one down long enough for someone else with a loaded gun to come out. Or, as he put it, take as long as possible to get shot.

Another friend was on guard duty outside of Mercaz Harav on Yom Yerushalayim (at night, when they march to the Kotel). She was telling me what the rules were for guard duty, in terms of a loaded gun/not, where to point a gun, where to shoot if need be... she had to point it at one guy who was about 20 who decided he could ignore her when she instructed him to stop (he had a gun on his back). A bit tense, though the guy finally stopped moving and took off the gun.

Then there's the time I was in Neve Daniel... but that's another story.

Irina Tsukerman said...

What a terrible experience. I'm sorry you had to go through all that. : (

Milhouse said...

Maybe he was starting to suspect that the driver might not really be a Jew, and might actually be a terrorist, or perhaps a collaborator driving a terrorist or something. After all, why else would he be resisting the soldier's instructions (apart from just being a stubborn Israeli, that is)?

Lab Rab said...

Could the driver of the minibus have been distracted by an obnoxious tremper?

I'm glad everyone calmed down in the end.

bec said...

i am so glad that didn't end the way it could have ended. however, if it did, i would probably have heard about it on the news by now. oy.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, I am also speechless. There is a commercial here from Staples that says wouldn't it be great if we all had an Easy Button.

Boy, I would love to give Israel mine.

The Cahans in Israel said...

I'm not so surprised by how the driver reacted. I've seen police officers who have instructed drivers to pull over to the side of the road be given a hard time by Israeli drivers. However to chamber the bullet? That's a big no-no.

MC Aryeh said...

I think I need to read a cheerful post now. Sometimes, I just don't get this world...

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