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, Burin (Yitzhar), Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 30.4.12, Morning
06:15 'Azzun 'Atma
Not many people outside; about 50 people in line. Two inspection booths, 35 people go through in ten minutes. A man told us that every few days he’s pulled over to the side for inspection or to check his documents, and sometimes he’s not allowed to cross. He lives in Bethlehem; when he goes to the Gush Etzion facility and tries to find out the reason, they tell him his documents are in order, but he still gets stuck here sometimes (maybe he’s just getting caught in the bureaucracy?).
06:33 Tamar gate
The gate is open, about 40 people and agricultural equipment wait. They say they’re employed here in agriculture. Donkey carts and a pickup truck also come through. By 06:48 they all crossed and the soldiers closed the gate even though it’s supposed to remain open until 07:00. One soldier stood off to the side praying with tefillin during the entire time the gate was open.
At 06:50 someone arrived, saw the gate was closed and turned back. The soldiers say they’re supposed to close the gate at 06:45, which is why they shut it (that’s not what ‘s written on the schedule at the DCO). They also said that had they seen him they would have opened the gate, but by the time we called it to their attention he was already in the orchard out of sight.
The children’s bus arrives; another that had been waiting now goes through. The large, closed gate on the Israeli side opens for each car. A female MP officer is in charge here, as at 'Azzun 'Atma. The pedestrian gate is open. The driver of the children’s bus asks to open the gate; the soldiers tell him to do so himself. Soon he’ll inspect his own documents…. The soldiers close the gate after him.
There’s been some improvement in efficiency here, since each group of five can wait right next to the revolving gate to enter for inspection, but the inspection itself is slow, and during 20 minutes only 30 people went through. The soldiers say there’s only one computer, with a keyboard that’s not easy to use, which slows down data entry and checking. More than 20 people still wait to cross.
07:50 Eliyahu crossing
Very few people waiting on the pedestrian line; about 5 cars being inspected, most of them with Israeli license plates. No pedestrians were on line when we left.
Soldiers at one lane stop a car. A line of cars immediately forms behind it, and then some of them are directed to another lane.
The car being inspected goes through ten minutes later.
08:43 A taxi is stopped for inspection, and then another, and a line forms again. The second is released a few minutes later and the line disappears. Then an additional taxi is stopped for inspection. Not every taxi is stopped, only a spot check is carried out. The two taxis were released after 8 minutes. Five soldiers from the crossing came toward us to say we’re not allowed to be here (we were standing slightly south of the pillbox). We explained we’re still in Area B, and if that’s forbidden we want to see the order signed by a general [TzavAluf]. They didn’t know what that is, but said there’s a sign at the junction stating it’s Area A and Israelis are forbidden entry. We told them that the sign says “This road leads to Area A where Israelis are forbidden to enter,” not that Area A begins here, so we’re allowed to stand on this side of the pillbox and see what’s happening. They argued a little more, gave up and began making phone calls that led nowhere.
09:00 Beit Furik
Everything’s open; no soldiers at the checkpoint.
There were no soldiers both times we went through, on the way to Huwwara and coming back.
09:20 Tapuach junction
Soldiers stand at the guard post but not at the crossing itself.