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, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 6.4.09, Afternoon
From the west no cars are waiting and from the north there are 22 cars and two checking areas.
14.20 Awarta. 4 trade cars.
14.25 Beit Furik. Soldiers check IDs of cars by a quick look.
14.41 We left when the last car in line went through.
2 checking posts for cars exiting. The x-ray machine is working. In the shed of the pedestrians there are 3 checking posts and about 100 people waiting in line, about 50 of which are in the humanitarian lane. It took about15 minutes from the moment they arrive to the moment they received their IDs back.
While watching we saw that there was a detainee.
15.25 A taxi driver on the side of the turnstile of those entering Nablus came to speak to us. Suddenly a soldier arrived. " Come here," he said, "you are a driver of a taxi. Now you will be here for many hours and took him to the detainee area. We phoned the humanitarian centre to complain about this arbitrary behavior. S., the DCO representative told us that since Beit Iba has been opened the pressure on Huwwara has decreased.
In the area of the car lane is a little boy of 8, alone, with parcels, without an ID. He had been sent to visit his grandfather in Nablus. The soldiers explained to his aunt who had come to fetch him that without an ID he could not exit.
A bus which has yellow number plates (a company from East Jerualem) arrives with Italian tourists. It was detained for half an hour as the entrance had not been arranged but in the end was allowed to go on its way to the city.
In the pedestrian area a young man was not allowed to leave Nablus. The soldier shouts at him,' You won't leave. You will go to the jorra."
15.32 A veiled woman got into the inspection booth and comes out at once.
We went back to the area of the car exit. While we stand there we "find" a detained man with his eyes bound and handcuffed who was put into a car standing there. (Picture 6.4.2009, Huwwara, detainee.) We kept an eye on the car and saw it going into the Huwwara installation.
Before we left we spoke to the DCO representative and with the commander E. about the driver who had been detained. Both of them explained to us the logic of detaining rebellious drivers who came to the lane of those entering Nablus. A game of cat and mouse they called the pursuit of these drivers. Both of them agreed that in the end punishment would not stop the attempts of the drivers to find passengers. "For two or three shekel I am prepared to be killed," said T. , one of the drivers. He is fighting to make a living, a desperate attempt. And another thing, the drivers themselves had proposed that a turnstile be made at the end of the lane so as to stop them getting there. "Now tell me, if one has to decide between water and a turnstile, what is more important?" It seems that life is either or. Not to speak of the answer that it would be better if there were no checkpoint but this is not acceptable here. He turns our attention to a tap and to installing a turnstile and asks who has the budget of this and how long it will take to put up such a turnstile. We remind him that a budget of 2.4 milliard shekel has been put into the security budget. Before we leave A. agrees to say that in another half an hour the "rebellious driver" would be freed.
16.10 We left.
16.20 Za'tara. 6 cars from both directions.
!6.35 The Shomron crossing... a traffic jam at the entrance to Israel.