Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Chapter 31 Dogs & weddings

It was on our way out from Nablus that I realized I was seeing more and more dogs at checkpoints. Sleek German Shepherds kept on tight leashes sniffing around cars, being led to and fro by young IDF soldiers.

As we passed through the check point I commented on this to our taxi driver.

‘Lots of dogs around these days.’ An obvious statement is generally enough to start a conversation. It also saves me from asking questions that make me seem foolish and/or inadvertently offensive.

He flicked his cigarette out the car window and shrugged. His tanned face impassive.

‘So…….. What are they for exactly?’

‘What do you mean what are they for exactly?’

I shift uncomfortably in my seat.

'Well… I always see dogs looking for drugs but that’s not what they’re looking for here is it?’

‘Aah… I see. Weapons.’

‘But... what are they smelling for exactly?’

He regards me through his dark shades.

‘What’s your name?’


‘Ah, my youngest daughter is called Sara. Well Sara, I’ll give you an example. I was invited to a wedding once. We picked up the groom and were taking him to the ceremony and one of the guys shot a gun out the car window in celebration.’

‘Out of this car?’

‘Out of this car. So a few days later I’m taking a trip out and I get stopped at a checkpoint. They bring the dog over and it starts to bark immediately.

“Step out of the car” they tell me. So I do and they search it. Under the seats, glove compartment everything. Nothing. They bring the dog back – again it barks.

“Take a seat” they tell me.

They took the car apart. The upholstery, the side doors, the trunk, the engine. The car was in pieces on the floor. They bring the dog back and still the damn thing barks!

“Khalas guys, there’s nothing there” I tell them.

They call in the special weapons team who scans the car and tests it for explosives and weapons. Still nothing and still the damn dog barks.

6 hours they kept me there until they gave up and sent me and the remaining pieces of my car home. Imagine how much it cost to fix it.’

‘6 hours??? Wow… and you didn’t get reimbursed for the car?’

He laughed and gave me ‘a look’.

‘Wait, do you mean the smell…?’

‘Exactly, the dogs could still smell the gunpowder from when my friend shot his gun out of the car. Now, when I get invited to weddings, I tell them what they can go do with themselves!Here, take a look at this picture of my daughter - isn't she beautiful?’


  1. Apparenlty caudite residue stays on your skin for ages, in America you have to get a reciept from gun ranges if you fly in the next few days because the same happens. Also shooting guns in the air for celebrations is pretty silly, the bullets come down at a similar velocity they go up and do the same thing....Also its a real bad idea in countries where guns get fired aggressively regularly, check out the film "battle for Haditha" where essentially 20 people get massacred by marines who thought they were being shot at.

  2. wow.. intense.. funny i dont cross as many checkpoints but i didnt notice any..

  3. Hey guys :) Good to hear from you.

    Nick - thanks for the weapons info. I have heard of that film I think. Will try to download it. Yeah I'm not a big fan of the celebratory gun fire thing. Happens in Lebanon sometimes as well but somebody always gets hurt.

    Lirun - It's only been lately around here. Then again it does depend on the city. Nablus tends to see somewhat tighter security than similarly classed cities like Ramallah or Bethelehem.

    The theory is the security is being tightened a little due to the things that have been happening in Tunis, Lebanon & Egypt.

  4. i guess that makes sense

    the palo response to leaks to date has been very loyal and measured but you never know what might happen..

    i think israel has lost faith in financial development equating a violence dampner..