person. He has been here an hour, according to the soldiers, and the shepherd confirmed it. They are waiting for the police, who have been summoned.
grasps the man’s back, moves him to the wall, pushes him down and orders him to stay that way, kneeling with his face to the wall. The soldiers photograph the detainee. Ten soldiers are now standing at the checkpoint, most doing nothing but circling the police van and chatting with the policemen, who are talking about the detainee on the radio. The policeman decides after many phone calls that the shepherd will be released on bail, and puts him in touch with a lawyer. The lawyer puts up bond and the shepherd must get him 700 shekels by Saturday – a huge amount of money for him.
road in our car. He walks up onto the hills to search for his sheep.
Trans. Judith Green
Very cold. One turnstile is operating. Very crowded in the humanitarian line.
The checkpoint commander, A., asks about the structure of our organization and how there could be so many volunteers and no director? Are the reports which he reads on the website inserted as they are, without any editing? Since we had this conversation, I asked him innocently whether he knew if the water drain was being taken care of at the exit passageway. The answer: "What, after all that they invested here, are they going to open it all up again?" I hoped that his answer was given with the same cynicism that I wanted to hear in his remarks. But I am not sure.
Someone arrived who was "wanted by the GSS and they would come to get him"; he was put in detention. We found out quickly that he was a "trespasser" who had entered upon an educational course. Another one, a quarter of an hour later.. Neither of them are wearing clothes suitable for this course, and they are very cold. The representative of the DCO, A., tries to please everyone and so is useless.
We believed the female soldiers at the hotline that they are registering our complaint and will try to speed up the treatment. The commander is taking care of it. He understands by now that they are not waiting for the GSS. Nothing happens, it is cold.
A dog trainer inspects a private car; gets the passengers outside. A man leaves the car with a tray of wrapped candies and decorations in his hands. He is on the way to a child's birthday party. He and his present get wet. And I would like to shout!
Later the dog trainer settles in the passsage area for young men and the dog checks them as well. A student who is going out shows the footprints of the dog's feet on his bag. Isn't the magnometer enough?
The rain starting coming down hard. The checkpoint commander gets the women out who were still waiting under the shed next to us. The DCO rep, A., asks him (!) if he couldn't leave them there until the rain stopped.
A student stopped to talk with us and exchanged addresses and telephone numbers. He spoke English fluently. His grandfather was Canadian and he himself studied in Germany. He told us how he tried to explain to the soldiers that they had no business being in an area that didn't belong to them. He wasn't so successful.
A river was beginning to flow at the feet of those going through. We took the phone number of the detainee. Later on, it turned out that he was still in his "educational workshop".
It was cold and rainy. We didn't delay on the way back.
Meitar (Sansana) CP
7:00AM. About 200 people waiting at the roadblock. There doesn't seem to be any movement. In response to our inquiry, some of the people say they've been waiting for 20 minutes and some say an hour and a half.
7:03AM, miraculously the queue begins to move; people enter in large groups of about 30 people each time. Within 25 minutes, the roadblock is clear.
The workers complain that they cannot pass work tools through the roadblock. Later, Leah asks the roadblock commander, and he says that according to their rules, the workers were supposed to pass the tools during the first month of the civil operation of the roadblock and leave them in Israel – i.e. to rely on the employer. It's a problematic arrangement.
One person is required to leave behind a plastic bottle with olive oil. We calculated that if the guy is an unskilled worker, he gets less than 10NIS an hour – The cost of taking a ride down to the roadblock + the cost of the oil he left behind, makes his work day unprofitable up to finishing at a loss.
Two other people are turned around because they don't have a permit.
The voice of the security inspector inside the facility can be heard all over the area – unpleasant and degrading.
7:35AM – Soldiers open the side gate beside the revolving gate to go buy Falafel. As a result, the first revolving gate stops working and one worker stays trapped inside – waiting. Leah shouts –" The employer will leave the worker behind! Let him pass! He will lose a day of work because of your Falafel!"
Without a word, the soldiers get out of the passage and close the gate. The revolving gate is released and the worker passes through.
Two other people tell us that their licenses have been taken without any explanation, and that they've been ordered to go to the GSS (General Security Services) to retrieve their licenses. One of them has been at the GSS offices 3 times already and has yet to get his license back. We promised to check it out.
The workers tell us that the bypass road to Ramadin was closed about a week ago, and that taxis are prohibited from getting near. They get to the roadblock by foot through the mountains. We drive down there to see, and it is indeed so – huge dirt and stone bodies are blocking a wide road.
Sheep Junction – We stop to talk to taxi drivers. They tell us that IDF soldiers break the windows of their vehicles if they dare get too close to the barricade (which is made of dirt and stone and is impossible to pass through by taxi). Another original form of punishment is to sit the drivers down in the mud with their eyes covered.
The drivers withdraw about 20 meters from the barricade.
We also met the head of the village Khalit Al Dav Aria. The village has a population of 5,000 people, and has 3 schools. He tells us about a graffiti in Arabic that was sprayed on an electric utility box which read: "Mohammad is an offspring of a pig". One of the drivers shows us a picture he took of the graffiti on his mobile phone. To be absolutely clear – the word pig was misspelled in English "big". They think soldiers wrote it. Someone from the DCO erased it.
Another person, a member of "Fatah", tells us that he was beaten up by soldiers a couple of weeks ago, and that they wrote on his membership card that he must come down to the DCO on January 3rd. He was afraid to go and asked us to check how he can file a complaint against the soldiers.
Exhausted and disturbed, we decided to skip Hebron and go home.
Hagit called to tell us there were reports of the death of a Palestinian worker the previous day on the Palestinian side of the Turqukmia crossing. She asked us to go there to try to verify the report. Sansana (Meitar) CP
6:30 am - No workers waiting on PA. A few on Israeli side waiting for rides to work.
There seemed to be more taxis and cars with PA licenses than usual on the route 60.
Dura and El Fawwar (7:00am) - Open. Sheep Junction - Open to pedestrians; workers and students crossing the road. There was still snow on the ground in the Hebron area.Edna junction - Open. Shuyukh junction - We talked to a group of 6 men of the Hebron side including a young man who said that the soldiers there hit him both yesterday and today because he did not respond quickly enough to their commands. The men reported that they were kept waiting between one to 3 hours to have their identity cards checked. We wanted to talk to the soldiers sitting in a jeep at the junction but they seemed to be asleep.
Sheep junction (later) - One of the soldiers reported that he didn’t hear about what happened at the Shuyukh junction. Another was talking to his insurance agent and the one in the jeep also seemed to be talking on his mobile phone.
Hundreds of workers were waiting to cross into Israel and there were women waiting on the opposite side of the road to board buses to visit relatives in prison. The Palestinians reported that the previous day there had been many workers waiting to cross with much pushing and shoving to get to the front of the line. The border had been closed for a several days because of the bad weather and the weekend. They heard that someone died as a result of the crowding, pushing and shoving. The soldiers we talked to said no one had died but than someone had been hurt and that a Red Crescent ambulance had taken him to an area hospital. The Palestinian who sells coffee at the crossing told us that the Palestinian workers caused whatever problems there were and not the soldiers. All the workers were very anxious to work after several days of not being able to get to work. There were an unusually large number of soldiers at the crossing. Army policemen were manning the crossing. We counted 14 and there were more outside of our line of vision. The officer we spoke to told us that there was to be an inspection of the crossing later that day. By the time we left 10 minutes later, all the workers had proceeded to the security check point. A half a dozen women then proceeded to cross to the security check point but only after all the men had gone through.
Amit goes out to find out if there is a detainee, and immediately the
Terrible Mrs Rita appears, waiving the instructions leaflet for the
women of Blue/White and persuades the soldiers to call the police,
cursing, making speeches. There is a non specific alert and that is why
the inspection is slow. A cab driver who talks to us is punished by a
second inspection of his papers.
permits unfamiliar to the soldiers. At the exit about 15 cars are
wating. Traffic flows. We inform the Centre of the delayed lorry.
Tulkarm residents are allowed through. Along queue of cars from the
direction of Beit Iba. A cab driver from the village Burka is stuck
desperate.He has no way of getting home. We approached the Centre
regarding his case. While trying to clarify the situation a policeman
who is on the scene barks at us: "I am in charge here. Get in your car
Today is a holiday in the West Bank (Al Hijara). Because of Bush's visit there is a closure between the occupied territories and Israel. The border passages were closed off, thus Arab workers did not go to work in Israel. Also due to the closure the entry to the Autonomy Territories was forbidden to all vehicles bearing Israeli number plates, which prevented all 1948 Arabs from using the holiday time to visit their relatives. At the entrance to Tulkarm a long queue formed because drivers of Israeli cars refused to accept the decree and argued with the soldiers at the road block. Obviously settlers travelled normally and were not affected by the closure.
Today there were no closures stopping the access from Arab towns and villages to Route 55.
Qalqiliya Passage (near Zofin) 7:00
There are about 10 cars in the queue for the inspections at the exit from the town. Waiting time lasts about 10 minutes, which means one car per minute. Some women workers go back - because of the closure they did not manage to go to work. On the other hand, at the upper road block, workers who work at the settlements on the seamline ( Alfei Menashe, Oranit etc.) are allowed passage.
On Route 55 east bound
Izbat at Tabib - open.
Azzun , the Square Junction - open.
Kafr Laqif - open.
Between Al Funduq and Haija - open.
Jit Junction - no army presence.
"Shvut Ami" Settlement - 2 weeks ago the army cleared away the settlers, but it seems something is happenning again in the area.
Anabta - 9:30
About 30 cars await at the entrance to the town. Soldiers have to argue with drivers of cars with yellow number plates, whose entry is blocked until after the Sabbath, when the closure will end. Fairly rigorous inspections (including checking of documents and random cargo inspections). We asked the soldiers why they were specifically targeting lorries carrying humanitarian tags. A soldier answered that lately he had inspected an ambulance and had discovered hitchhikers in it.
Jubara, Upper Gate, 10:00
Entry passes to this village, which is on the seamline, are divided into two categories: A. passes for residents who are allowed to enter and leave as they please. B. Work permits, given to land owners and their workers , which are valid up till 19:00. The soldiers monitor the exit and entry hours of the work permit holders with the help of a special copybook (in order to reduce the quantity of people entering Israel via Jubara.)
A Palestinian was delayed for a long time (at least half an hour till we left), because according to the army records he entered Jubara yesterday. According to the soldiers the Palestinian will wait until the arrival of an officer, who will decide how to punish him, ie for how long will he lose his license to enter the village. This appears to be a common procedure.
It is well known that this road block, which is located in an isolated rural area, is particularly popular with the Military Intelligence investigators, who set up meetings here with informers, or for trapping new collaborators. This time again we saw three passengers getting off a cab, being led led one by one into the obscured armoured vehicle of the Military Intelligence forces. One of these young men told us that this was the first time that "they" wanted to speak to him and that he does not intend to collaborate . We asked him how does he deal with the fact that everybody can see him talking to the Military Intelligence. He replied that his friends "all know him and they know he is not a traitor". We nodded and thought to ourselves "happy is he who believes..." We surmise that the massive recruitment of collaborators fatally wounds the solidarity within the Palestinian society and the ability of this body to act in unity in order to achieve common goals. We feel that the activities of the Military Intelligence during the past 40 years contributed to the chaotic state within the territories, because of which the Israelis feel "there is no one to talk with".
Translation: Maureen A.
13:20 - From Highway 5 we can see that the army has once again constructed the big dirt barrier on the road leading from the Barkan Industrial Area to the villages of Bruqin and Dik. We turned into the road and went as far as the barrier. Even though the army had installed an iron apparatus which was meant to allow them to close off the road at will, someone must have decided that that wasn't effective enough; like last time, the road is blocked by three barriers of earth and stones that completely block the passage of vehicles. The distance between the first of the three and the last is about 300 meters. In order to leave the village, the inhabitants of the villages have to drive up to the road-block, and then climb up and over each of the barriers, walking the distance between them, in order to then wait for a cab on the other side. That may not be a problem for young people and workmen, who have to make their way through the road-block every day, but for the elderly, the ill and mothers with small children, it's a mission impossible.
From conversations with some of the inhabitants of the villages we learn that the army claims that cars on the road leading to the settlements of Paduel and Elei Zahav were stoned from the village - though the entrance to the village from that road has been blocked for several years. In other words, the building of the road-block now is just another form of collective punishment. It's obvious to one and all that blocking roads is not going to prevent cars from being stoned. The people we spoke to also told us that the stoning which brought about the new road-blocks took place at 1:00 a.m..
A female inhabitant of one of the settlements was driving along the road, and had an accident. She claimed that the accident happened because kids threw stones at her. The inhabitants of the village were left wondering exactly which kids were wandering around outside at that hour.
We spoke to the IDF "Humanitarian" Centre and asked why the road-block had been constructed and when it would be removed. D. from the Center investigated for us and the answer she got from the brigade was that it was constructed after a case of stoning and would be removed when the brigade decided to remove it. At least in this case they knew that a road-block had been constructed, not like in other cases where it seemed that the right hand had no idea what the left hand was doing.
The workmen we met there told us the familiar story of the Palestinian labor market. Most of the inhabitants of those villages look for work in the Barkan Industrial Area. In order to work there they need a work permit, which is very often hard to obtain. Employment of Palestinian workers in the plants in this area usually goes through Palestinian work contractors, who take advantage of the workers - if the Israeli employer pays the Palestinian contractor 25NIS per hour per worker, the worker himself gets only 10NIS of it. The contractor gets the rest. Due to the difficulty in obtaining a work permit and the lack of other places of employment, people don't complain, even though the current situation is illegal.
14:15 - Za'tara Junction -
There are no special orders. There are hardly any vehicles. Those that do arrive go through the security check relatively quickly. The Checkpoint Commander says there are no special orders.
14:30 - Beit Furik -
The morning shift asked us to check out what happened vis-à-vis a young man who was detained there from early this morning; the soldiers had said that he would be detained for 6 hours (see morning shift report 31/12). When we arrived, he wasn't there.
The checkpoint is almost empty. The taxi drivers tell us that today there's a "good checkpoint", after a couple of days during which there were delays during the security check, vehicles waited more than three hours in order to pass through the checkpoint on their way into Nablus in the morning. The soldiers said that the slow security checks during the last few days were because of the terrorist act near Hebron, "so it won't happen here near Yitamar, too". The connection to checking cars entering Nablus is not really clear. Once again, it seems that the difficulties the army causes the Palestinians are just another kind of collective punishment.
15:00 - Huwwara CP -
It's relatively quiet at the checkpoint; the lines are not extremely long. People who came through the men's lines report that it took them an hour to get through the checkpoint; women and older people are going through relatively quickly and are standing and waiting for those stuck in the men's line.
The soldiers who are checking the vehicles entering Nablus stop a Red Crescent vehicle carrying medicine. They remove a small bottle from the vehicle and check it very carefully, communicate over their wireless sets, over the telephone, trying to find out whether the bottle is "kosher" or not. The CP Commander tells us that they've received a special warning as to "dual-usage substances" in vehicles entering Nablus. It looks like they are after materials that can be used to make explosives. However, the soldiers at the checkpoint have no way of differentiating between innocent medicines and substances that are potentially "dual-usage".
When we left, an hour and a half after the vehicle was detained, the Red Crescent vehicle was still there and the soldiers were still waiting for a lesson in pharmacology.
Translation: Suzanne O.
A different day: very few people going from place to place, after some clarification we were told that it is the eve of a holiday today and therefore people are at home.
At the entrance to Ariel there are police as usual, they stop the traffic and allow the residents of Ariel to leave the settlement.
Not a car in the queue to cross to the west, Road 5, nor from the direction of Nablus. The soldiers are unemployed.
Up to the Huwwara roadblock we see no roadblocks along the way.
When we arrived the activity appeared unusual, the car park was comparatively empty.
About 30 residents queue at the exit for their documents and the contents of their bags to be checked. The crossing is relaxed and quick and those crossing are equally so.
From the direction of the turnstile there are shouts, a soldier shouts at one of the residents who shouts back in Arabic. The soldier calls A., the commander, who comes and calms the situation down but leads the man in the direction of the cell, while talking to him. A., from the DCO arrives, he has been in the area the whole time, and then we find out that: the man, a resident of Nablus was arrested the previous day because his name appeared on the soldiers' list. While he was in the cell he leant against the door which fell down, the soldiers thought he was trying to escape, but after clarification he was released.
When he arrived at the roadblock today the magnometer was out of order so he was asked to remove his jacket, he simply lifted it and was convinced that the insistence on its removal was in reprisal for the previous day's happenings. After all the explanations were heard he was released to go on his way.
At the entrance to Nablus the traffic is very light, there are almost no women crossing today.
There are few cars at the entrance or at the exit.
A father and his son are on their way out of Nablus, the soldier at the roadblock does not believe that the boy is really his son. After discussions and harassment, they go on their way after the intervention of A., the commander, once again.
The commander comes over to us and asks us not to photograph the soldiers; we photograph the situation and do not focus on their faces.
There are three people waiting to cross.
The roadblock is completely empty; we have never seen such a thing.
Beit Furiq roadblock
It is comparatively deserted, not one car waits to enter, there is one car waiting to leave. From time to time people from Beit Furiq get out of their transport and cross quickly.
We stood under the shed and the soldiers ignored us.
Back to Huwwara: it was comparatively empty.
On our way back, at Za'atra Junction, there were three cars from the direction of Nablus and from the west no cars at all.
Translation: Suzanne O.
The entrance to Marda is open, Beita is blocked by huge concrete blocks.
Za'atra Junction (Tapuach)
There are some six to eight vehicles on the road leading from Tulkarm, they are checked and passed quickly, including buses.
Throughout our stay, we were there about 20 minutes, there were between 45 - 55 vehicles of all kinds in the queue. Most of the time there were three lanes at the roadblock and the cars were inspected and passed through quickly including buses (who were requested to park for a few minutes in the car park).
In comparison, an elderly Palestinian woman of about 70 years of age, who only had a passport which had expired in 2000, was not permitted to continue on her way without a signed order from the DCO via the military H.Q. This order was not immediately forthcoming despite our efforts and the taxi driver who brought her decided to return whence he came.
There are no military vehicles on the way to Beita and no roadblock at Borin (Yitzhar) Junction. There are many heavy industrial vehicles and an army vehicle guarding them. There is massive digging and levelling work going on at the corner of the Huwwara road and the Borin/Yitzhar road.
There is a queue of about 20 - 25 people. There are no detainees. An inspection takes between 3 - 4 minutes per person in the ordinary queue; it is quicker in the queue for women and the elderly.
There is a dog which is not being used and an x-ray machine which is in use. The inspection of cars leaving is also without the use of the dog (it is only used later on). The car park is half empty.
At first there is no queue of cars and the pedestrian queue moved very quickly.
Later a flock of sheep with their shepherd appears, and another one after that, to cross the ‘Jewish road', and almost all the soldiers were riveted by the show and did not move the cars through... in this way a queue of 7 - 8 cars built up. When we left the fairly fast crossing of cars and people was renewed.
There are 6 - 7 cars at the exit from Nablus and 2 - 3 at the entrance. The cars cross quickly. We find out from a conversation that some of the Palestinians caught on the ‘Jewish road' are brought to Awarta and held there for a couple of hours as punishment.
There are a lot of people in the queue, the car park is full and crowded, and a lot of taxis wait for passengers at the exit from Nablus. Pedestrians cross speedily via two queues. Two youngsters are detained as punishment because they were caught with ‘with a donkey and cart trying to steal iron'. The x-ray machine is turned off; the vehicle is used to inspect baggage in the porters' hand carts used to move the baggage of the people crossing the roadblock.
A woman comes for a second day to get back her I.D. card after an inspection at the roadblock two days ago. The commander and the DCO representative assist in finding out how, where and when. When it turns out that it is at the Awarta DCO we took her there, waited until it was returned to her, and returned her to her waiting son at Huwwara. The hard reality of the roadblock is unchanged.
The soldiers, and in particular the commander Eviatar, try to be quick, polite and helpful.
There are some 17 cars on the road from Huwwara and two lanes are functioning. On the other road there are no cars.