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...
Beit Furik, Huwwara, Sun 18.1.09, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
Beit Furik checkpoint 15:20
Empty and quiet. Soldiers in a Hummer parked at the exit from the village road, by the iron gate open during the day and locked at night drove over to us just to ask if everything's alright.
We answered in the "right" Israeli accent and they left us alone.
Huwwara Checkpoint 15:30
Active X-ray truck, three, sometimes only two checking posts.
Our first vigil here after 3 weeks' absence during the Gaza horrors.
A woman-soldier insists on constantly touching the Palestinian she addresses.
A detainee is sent into the concrete cubicle, another to the waiting shed.
The loudspeaker resonates with a gruff voice constantly repeating "Everyone back. Back!!! Back!!!!!"
In the men's lines, hundreds of people standing silently, very crowded against each other, the lines straight as a ruler, parallel and perpendicular to the straight, precise lines of the metal fences and bars surrounding them all over. A man talks to us of his despair, and concludes - "And then one day, I'll say to the fishes - bon appetit..." but reassures us immediately that he wishes such a fate only upon those who "killed our children in Gaza".
The special side-line for women and the elderly is long and unbearably slow. For long moments it does not even move at all. We complain about this to the army hotline.
The inspection of cars exiting Nablus is relatively swift. There are many vehicles on the move.
16:00 3 detainees are released, but not the one who was detained first when we arrived. Something in his ID is not "right".
The checkpoint commander - a second lieutenant - cannot help touching every Palestinian he talks to. A soft, dominating, one-sided touch that humiliates in its matter-of-fact license.
Time and again this commander halts all ID checks en-masse in order to impose quiet and 'order'.
We left at 17:00. The taxi park, without its former stalls, now looks like one large garbage dump with lots of cabs.