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...
'Azzun, Deir Sharaf, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Huwwara, Jit Junction , Qalqiliya, Shave Shomron, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 12.12.11, Morning
The checkpoint is on Route 60 (the main road to the northern West Bank), opposite settlement. Has been blocked to Palestinians since disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria.
After Sunday’s reports about checkpoints being established at many locations, we decided to make a complete circuit to see what’s going on. We saw no flying checkpoints other than one that was removed while we were in the field. There were more military vehicles than usual on the roads, but they didn’t interfere with Palestinian traffic.
06:40 Eliyahu crossing – A number of cars at the inspection station for Palestinians (from Israel as well as from Palestine). Crossing takes 5-6 minutes. The cars are checked by dogs and also by people. Not many people on the pedestrian line, but we couldn’t time how long it took them to get through because no one wore clothes that stood out and we were standing too far away to identify those entering and remember them. People coming out said it took about 10 minutes to cross.
07:10 Habla – The gate is already open and we see that many people crossed. On average, it takes ten people about 6 minutes to go through. Initially, people were inspected at the guard station, where there was a soldier with a portable computer and a second soldier with a scanner. Later the computer in the inspection room was turned on and people again crossed there. At 07:20 the children’s bus arrives, the driver waits for the soldiers to notice him and wave him over to the inspection stations. He said that people with a 00 license go through without having to stop at the inspection station, and he’ll try to get one. Then the bus advances to the middle of the crossing and a soldier inspects its baggage compartments – as if something would be smuggled into Habla!
Tractors cross with tools, material, olive seedlings – there’s a great deal going on here. If only people could live here without the damn checkpoint.
We continued via the entrance to Qalqilya and drove through 'Azzun – no soldiers at the entrances; they’re open (the previous day soldiers were reported to have been there).
08:10 Jit junction – From a distance we saw military vehicles and what looked like a flying checkpoint at the Sara/Huwwara junction. We decided to first stop by Deir Sharaf – the road to Shavei Shomron. The checkpoint was open but the police officers standing there stopped a Palestinian for inspection, and us as well. After inspecting my documents – driver’s license, vehicle registration – and finding out that we just want to see what’s going on here, they let us continue.
We stopped at the bakery in Deir Sharaf. They told us that Jit junction is closed to traffic driving toward Huwwara.
08:50 Back to Jit junction. Now two military cars were standing on the side above the junction, but the soldiers were lounging in the cars, apparently not doing anything. Another military car and civilian pickup truck stood on the side of the road to Huwwara, not doing anything, electrical cables and tools alongside them. The crossing was open in all directions. Apparently there’d been a flying checkpoint there which had been dismantled by the time we arrived. We watched what was going on for a while and then continued to Huwwara.
09:10 Huwwara – The crossing is open. No soldiers on the road.
09:30 Beit Furiq – The crossing is open, no soldiers on the road except for the one who’s always at the ascent to Mt. Gerizim.
09:50 Za’tara junction – Soldiers are present who from time to time ask some driver something, but the crossing is open, even if slow. In fact, we crawled all the way up because the crossing went so slowly.
10:00 The entrance to Ariel/Salfit – No military. We entered in the direction of the entrance to Salfit to see what’s happening there. Two soldiers stood at the entrance to the road to Salfit (where there’s a yellow gate that can block the road) who told us we can’t drive to Salfit in a car with an Israeli license plate. We turned around and returned home.