Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Bethlehem (300), Etzion DCL, Halhul, Nabi Yunis, Mon 4.6.12, Morning
07:10 Bethlehem checkpoint
:People exiting say there weren’t any problems this morning, that no one is waiting to
enter but that there are long lines inside. That’s what we also saw: the lines for the
document inspection booths are congested and only two windows are open.
Something very serious, which should be complained about immediately, is that there are
signs everywhere reading “Photography is forbidden,” inside the checkpoint as well (see
attached photo). The checkpoint is not a military installation, nor a restricted military
We’re consulted regarding the police. And an innovation: Finally, after some five years,
the Palestinian Authority has been permitted to pave the dirt road to El Khader, below
Highway 60. Cars from Husan, Battir and Nahalin took this road to El Khader for many
years, in the summer dust and the winter mud, as did people walking to El Khader, as
well as adults and children from Husan going to school in El Khader.
08:15 Etzion DCO
Not many people waiting; they’re admitted while being scolded by the lords and masters.
08:30 Beit Ummar
We stop as usual at the new gas station at the entrance to the village which isn’t open
because it doesn’t have an operating permit because it’s on Highway 60. A few taxis
park there, as usual. Solders stand there, as they’ve done often in the past. Four this
time. And armed, of course, from head to toe, as usual. A taxi driver approaches us and
says that his car keys and ID were taken, and he and the taxi have been waiting there an
hour. As you know, soldiers aren’t allowed to confiscate the keys of taxis, and when they
take an ID they have to inspect and return it. When we told this to the soldiers one of
them – apparently the one in charge – said that here he’s the one who decides.
We telephoned the humanitarian office so he could talk to them. He said we could talk
to whomever we wished, but he doesn’t have to talk to anyone. The humanitarian office
transferred us to the Hebron humanitarian office, which transferred us from one soldier to
another and finally said they’d look into it. Meanwhile the senior soldier, who, it turned
out, was also armed with a video camera, approached out car, photographed it and us,
and also said that “people who have mercy on the cruel will eventually be cruel to the
merciful,” and that we’re traitors to our people.
(I’ll add a personal note – it seems to me the time has come to do away with this famous
phrase, which only helps people behave violently without compunction.)
Another soldier approached us a few minutes later and said that if we leave they’ll
return the driver’s keys and ID. We left anyway. We checked by phone with the driver
about an hour later, and they’d been returned. I assume they weren’t happy about the
09:15 Nabi Yunis
A few people approach us for advice regarding police matters.