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...
'Awarta, Beit Furik, Hamra (Beqaot), Huwwara, Ma'ale Efrayim, Salfit Checkpoint, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sat 9.6.12, Morning
Translator: Hanna K.
9:40 Salfit CP
This CP began as concrete Blocks which were cleared from a blockade on the road from Ariel to Salfit, about a year ago.
It began with two soldiers, a tiny booth and a few sand bags and a gate made of big plastic pieces (red, a meter and a half wide, one meter high) which were dragged away to enable passage. Only taxis were allowed to pass.
Later a bigger booth was placed opposite, at a distance of about five meters, and two yellow arms gates.
Today it is a rather big electrical CP but the road remained narrow and unassuming.
Since quite a time there is only one soldier there. He sits at a distance of about 30 meters, at the entrance gate to Ariel, together with the civilian guards there. From there he opens and closes the electrical iron yellow arms.
While we were there several taxis arrived: One arm is lifter, the taxi drives 5 meters, the arm is closed (the taxi now is confined between the two arms) the second arm is opened and the taxi goes on its way.
This is the procedure for every vehicle that arrives. For both directions this dedicated service is applied. All this by remote control.
While we were here there were no detentions and the soldier didn't even once come up to the vehicle. Both taxis and private cars passed.
09:50 We continued and after the traffic roundabout at the Ariel Kif'l Hareth junction, in the direction of Za'tara/Tapuahthere was a police jeep, a policeman and a soldier who stopped us and asked where we were going to.
They couldn't believe that we headed to Huwwara and weren't afraid. "Be careful" they advised us when were left.
We saw that they also stopped two cars behind us.
This is the first time that I see police at this point.
10:00 Za'tara/Tapuah junction.
There is no police and no soldiers on the road. While we were looking a border policeman and a border policewoman came down from the watch tower and went in the direction of the hitch-hiking station to Jerusalem.
They continued, made a round of the intersection and did not disturb the lively traffic.
At the Huwwara village all is teeming and bustling, as usual.
10:15 Huwwara CP - There are no soldiers at the CP, perhaps in the watch-tower.
10:18 Awarta gate – closed, as usual. The signpost that directed to the village isn't there, only the pillar is left. On the concrete blocks below there is a text sprayed on: "Jews, Revenge, Never More".
10:25 Beit Furik CP - There are no soldiers at the CP, and neither, so it seems, in the watch-tower.
10:40 Za'tara/Tapuah Junction –a soldier and a girl soldier in the watch tower.
10:50 Ma'ale Ephraim CP – No soldiers in view, neither in the watch-tower.
Many concrete blocks are scattered here, for no reason at all. The ugliness were bring into the beauty of the landscape is blatant. At the junction there are signposts for Jericho, Beit Shean, Mehora, Patzael, The Jordan Valley….The Arabic lettering is sprayed in black.
Goat herds grazing the last greenery that is left, the shepherds wave in greeting.
11:15 Hamra/Beqa'ot CP – from afar we saw two cars and a truck waiting to pass the CP and enter the valley, (when one stands at the CP one doesn’t see this queue). In the direction of Tubas there are five cars waiting. We stood behind them, waiting. Later we see three soldiers.
The truck opposite us entered the CP, was checked and Passed quickly.
Towards our side one of the soldiers began waving. Each car waits to be waved on and passes, without being checked. Opposite us a car entered the CP. the driver opened the doors and the luggage compartment. There are two soldiers with him.
11:35 All in all we saw that the soldiers wait for a car convoy to form and then they pass the cars on in sequence, in both directions.
This means that sometimes cars had to wait 5-8 minutes until they were let pass.
There were few pedestrians. One car waited 8 minutes for its pedestrians, whereas another car waited one minute for a single pedestrian.
12:00 Ma'ale Ephraim – it is empty.
12:25 Za'tara/Tapuah – There are soldiers only at the watch tower at the parking lot.
12:40 Samaria crossing – 6cars and one truck are waiting at the entrance to Israel. In the other direction the road is open and there is no checking.
Shalom, Shalom and we passed immediately.