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 'Atma, Beit Furik, Bruqin, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 26.12.11, Morning
06:30 'Azzun 'Atma – a very long line of about 70-80 people, maybe even more. Many others have already crossed and wait at the checkpoint for their rides. Two inspection booths, and two MP’s outside of the inspection booths inspect both people and their belongings. But it still takes as long to cross as it did other times we observed – that is, it took a particular person we observed more than an hour to get through. It’s not raining now, but everything is wet. I can’t imagine what it’s like to wait an hour or more in the rain to cross. There’s an awning off to the side, but that doesn’t solve the problem of the line, because there’s no way to stand under the awning and still keep your place on line. It’s absolutely terrible. A person is inspected, the solder asks him to remove his jacket, it’s cold. He’s annoyed, and does so objecting loudly. And then he turns to us – And what are you doing about it? You’re no help. And he’s right – what can we do other than document what’s happening. How sad.
07:00 The line is becoming a little shorter. Children crossing to school from the Israeli side have their belongings checked – how come? Will they bring explosives to the West Bank?
Some people are sent to sit off to the side while their documents are inspected further. One said that he always goes through, but since yesterday there’s a red line next to his name so he has to wait longer, and then go through. What changed since the day before yesterday, that now his name comes up? Twenty minutes later he went through.
We met a group of laborers who arrive each morning from Bethlehem – what a nightmare, but at least there’s work, so they make the effort.
We took our guests to see Hani’s house – it’s terrible what they did just to benefit a few settlers.
08:10 Bruqin – We saw the mosque whose entrance had been set on fire, as well as the tractor whose driver’s cab was burned completely. The locals shake their heads – why can’t people live together in peace – why, indeed?
08:40 Soldier is at the entrance to Salfit, at the turn to Ariel. They’re not allowed to let anyone through except Palestinian buses and taxis – we can’t enter.
08:50 We continue to Tapuah/Za’tara. I’m surprised there are no soldiers inspecting, just someone in the pillbox.
09:10 Huwwara – No soldiers, other than those in the pillbox, who say we’re forbidden to photograph. But that’s not true, so we continue to take pictures.
09:30 Beit Furik – Deserted, not a living soul, and very few cars going through.
We stopped for falafel in Huwwara – our poor companions were starving. They’re not used to leaving home at 05:30.
Now the surprise of the day – we reach Tapuach, two soldiers are inspecting cars at the crossing and others erect a concertina barrier on the sidewalk separating the road from the parking lot. We entered the parking lot to watch. About ten minutes later the soldiers inspecting cars left the road and returned to the parking lot. The inspection was very quick – one or two questions, and the car drives away. The soldiers then came over to talk to us; after we introduced ourselves we asked what they were doing. You won’t believe it – tonight people will be going to Joseph’s Tomb so they’re fencing off the parking lot. They promised that tomorrow the barrier will be removed. And the inspection? Oh, that was just a flying checkpoint that’s over.