Anabta, Beit Iba, Huwwara, Beit Furik
07:30 – 10:30 – On the first Holiday morning – Id Al Ad'ha [The Holiday of Sacrifice] – most of the residents of the Tulkarm and Nablus regions stay at home. The West Bank looks sleepy. The roads are empty and only few pass the checkpoints. We haven't found any changes in the army's instructions concerning the passage conditions at the different checkpoints. The soldiers have been updated by their commanders that starting at noon many families will be leaving for relatives visits.
In our opinion, we can do without the morning shift of Machsom Watch in the four "Id Al Ad'ha" days, or at least on the first day of the Holiday.
We reached the entrance to Jubara village. Having got the Figs Gate's commander's permission we entered the sleepy village.
We reach the agricultural gate together with a joyous group of about 20 women , and their leader, a cheerful woman, smilingly negotiates with the soldiers. They have no permits. The soldiers, reservists, are a little embarassed. They do not know what to do with the group. The leader does not stop orating in Arabic; the soldiers (who do not understand a single word) nevertheless decide to let the cheerful group through. They claim that the police in Ar-ras will deal with them.
13:33 The cheerful group went through the checkpoint and no special attention was paid to them.
At the checkpoint an Israeli from Bat Yam, who wants to travel towards Ar-ras is waiting aside. There is an instruction not to let Israelis through in that direction. After negotiating with the police who are present at the checkpoint ( his mother and sister live in the area) he is allowed to continue on his way.
We go back to the entrance of the village in order to travel to Anabta. A queue of about 40 vehicles is awaiting inspection at the Figs Gate, in order to leave the country. Suddenly a car emerges from the end of the queue into our lane, overtakes the entire queue and nearly bumps straight into us. Of course that was a settler with a ' special permit'.
8 cars at the entrance to Tulkarm. No vehicles at the exit from the town. Most cars are waved through. Occasionally a car is stopped, the driver is asked a quick question and he carries on.
There is lively traffic of vehicles laden with food, sheep, cows, for the holiday commencing tomorrow.
15:00 The reserve soldiers behave nicely towards the locals. That is apart from the wise guy who asked me what was the difference between a Palestinian waiting at the checkpoint on his way to work, and himself stuck in a traffic jam or at a red light on his way to work.
06:30 – 07:00 Sufin/Qalqiliya checkpoint
It's cold. Vehicles come streaming from Qalqiliya. The soldier carries out the check skillfully and swiftly to prevent creating a line.
08:15 – 08:30 Anabta
The winter and the Moslem Holiday Id Al Ad'ha [the Holiday of Sacrifice] are apparent. There is no traffic. Vehicles can scarcely be seen. We haven't even talked with the soldiers. We have just been standing here, waving to greet the few vehicles that pass. It's cold.
09:00 – 09:30 Ar-Ras
It seems that the oppressive checkpoint routine can be avoided thanks to the holiday and the cold. Again, a lot of soldiers and only few vehicles pass. It's very, very quiet.
We stop at Abu Hatem's and wish him a happy holiday. It's sad.
At the entrance to the village, reservists stop us and they say that they are new and do not know if we are allowed through. They ask if we have a permit in writing and ask us to wait. The captain phones the operations room and in the meantime Elisheva phoned the office of the brigade commander who tell us to phone the captain of the air defence Mattie who returns us to the brigade commander. After 20 minutes another soldier arrives and we are allowed through.
14.15 Childrens' Gate
At the Childrens' Gate are two soldier who also ask for a permit,. They say they do not belong to the same unit as the soldiers at Jubara. In the meantime cars in both directions pass without delay and only we are detained. People are getting ready for the holidays and a vehicle with sheep goes through.
14.30 The soldiers say they have received a reply and the police are on their way. Elisheva again phones the brigade commander and gets Mattie's answering service. In spite of the fact that we know that it is important that we establish our rights we decide to go on.
Much traffic in both directions. Here too are reserve soldiers. 3 stand at the south and two at the north. Cars pass without delay and only now and again are their IDs checked.
Only a few days before Eid ul-Adha, also called the `big holiday',
it is celebrated in honor of the prophet Abraham, the Moslems
celebrate together with family giving gifts, family meals and being
together. Even in the occupation and their constant oppression,
they look forward to the holiday and what they can give to others.
A new group of reservists, the commander comes over to us and asks
who we are; there are no cars from any direction and no pedestrians.
Coming out from Jubara, the commander comes over to us asking who we
are, and where we are coming from, not familiar with Machsom Watch
at all (new reservists)
No cars or pedestrians from either side
The Pink House- Shvut Ami
I didn't think I'd ever say I was glad to see a road block `Machsom',
but as we approached the `Pink House', we see a huge mound of earth
blocking the entrance road to the house, an army jeep and two
soldiers, there are other mounds of earth blocking the entrance to
Azzun is open when we pass
There are over 16 vehicles waiting to exit Qalqilya and six going in.
The border police are waving the vehicles through, only stopping
Israeli vehicles, IDs and authorization to enter.
Limitations of movement.
The road from Al Finduq to the village of Kadum (through Haja) is still blocked by rocks. The villagers have open a bypass in their fields.
The exit from the village of Jinspot to road 55 is still blocked. The residents exit through a dirt road to the road which comes out at the crossroads in a southerly direction. This is plain and simply a collective punishment. Two other exits are a distance of 100 metres one from the other.
The dirt barrier to the roads exiting from the olive groves next to Kfar Lakief opposite the entrance to Karnei Shomron is still there.
12.30 At Ras-Atiah ( the gate between the area of the envelope at Alfei Menashe and Habla)
There are few people. There is a police car at the checkpoint. There are some people there and a truck to which the driver returns immediately as he is known and goes through without the truck being checked.
12.50 We go to Azzun through Izbet Tabib and Hirbet Aslah and go south on road 446 so as to get to Azzun-Atma and to the checkpoint of Hablah. The rains of the last month have caused much damage to the roads and it is hard to drive.
13.20 Zaun Atma are 3-4 cars waiting to get to a village on the Israeli side. Two are waiting to leave and there are two detainees. One from Qalqiliya whom the soldiers claim forged his ID and added Azzun Atmah to his place of residence. The soldiers summoned the police but say that if they do not come they will free him. A private car with a boy and two school-age girls wait and the soldier checks and sends the two little girls to be checek. I say that children do not have to be checked by the x-ray machine and he says they can be checked by hand. They tried to go in but no one opens the turnstiles for them and so they go to sit with their friends who are selling coffee. Reservists man the checkpoint.
13.40 Habla. One car is there when we arrive. The soldiers do not let us pass though this is area C. The commander phoned for orders and returned to tell us that the answer was negative. We turned around and went back all the way to Azzun.
14.00 Azzun. The main entrance to raod 55 is open but the old way to Izbet Tabib is closed since May 2007. We do not know if the road for the farmers to the north is open.
14.20 Al Funduq. We go to see if the roads are still blocked and see that the road from Kadum through Haja is still as it was on Mondya. The barrier is composed of large stones and the villagers have made a bypass in the field and that some stones have also been moved. At Al Funduq they are busy fixing the damage done by the bulldozer to the pipes. The villagers say the damage was caused by the army.
The tents on the illegal outpost of Shvut Ami are still there. The owners of the houses which the settlers took over two months ago have an army jeep in front of them. (The question to be asked is if the rocks and cement blocks which the army uses are not enough to stop the illegal ascent?) The army can take the blocks from the village to stop the settlers.
Reservists who pass the cars through quickly and only now and again stop cars for checking. Usually Israeli cars. This is the first time in ages that we have not seen a long line of cars leaving Tulkarm and there are only 4. From speaking to the soldiers we get the impression that they do there best that there should be no such lines.
At gate 753 a group of workers who did not have work permits for Israel. They say they have been there half an hour. We ask the soldiers to free them soon and when we leave they are already on their way.
5 cars from the south and those from the north are not checked. Reserve soldiers man the checkpoint. (As a result of the previous report we stated obstinately that we always go on the road to Azzun and the commander phoned and receives the OK. We went on road 574 to Azzun and found no checkpoints along the way but the roads are very bad because of the rains.
13:54 – Dir Balut roadblock
The block was lifted and traffic moves freely, but soldiers are present on site. According to the soldiers, they do not inspect cars unless there's a suspicious car. From what they say, Palestinians are now allowed to drive on the road going up from the junction toward Peduel, Aley Zahav, and Kafer Adik, and from there to road 5, a road on which Palestinians were forbidden to travel. There was almost no Palestinian car traffic while we stayed at the junction so that we couldn't verify that they are indeed allowed to travel on this road. We continued driving on road 446 northwards and went under the bridge on road 5 where there was no roadblock.
In Masakha – near the lone house belonging to Hani, inside the separation wall, a wall was put up that divides him from the village houses.
15:10 – Azzun
The main exit from the village to road 55 was opened this morning at 10:00 according to the testimony of one of the residents. The exit to road 55 near Izbet Tabib was also opened, according to him.
Road 574 at the exit from Azzun, under road 55 – there's a rolling block which turns out to be a drill in putting up a roadblock. The soldiers block traffic completely for 10 minutes and then go away.
10 cars from the north.
A group of 10 detainees – laborers returning from Israel without permits. They are detained by the soldiers as punishment.
25 cars in both directions. Inspection is symbolic only. Each car takes about 15 minutes to cross.
The two blocks at Al Funduq were lifted.
Kafer Laqif – the block on the exit to road 55 was lifted.
The road between Al Funduq and and Haja has again been blocked.
The damage done by the heavy vehicles of the army which carried out the blocking of Al Funduq has been hidden.
The settlers who were removed from the illegal settlement of "Shvut Ami" have invaded the opposite hill and cut down olive trees.
7.00 Jubara and A-Ras.
There is not much traffic. The checkpoints are manned by polite reservists who give the Palestinians their IDs and say "thank you" . But they are not practiced and do not know the area or the procedures and therefore there are sometimes unnecessary delays. A bus of children waited for 10 minutes at the entrance to Jubara.
Through the communication device from the brigade, orders have been given that Machsomwatch cannot go through to Beit Lid. As there are also reservists who will be changed in two weeks time we decided that there was no point in appealing this decision just for the principle.
7.30 Ababta. Quiet. No lines. (as is usual at this time).
No soldiers. About 3 kilometres from the crossroads we stopped to see what has happening with the new settlement of "Shvut Ami". We were scared to approach the settlers and preferred to go to their neighbours to see what was happening. The Palestinians say that the soldiers chased away the settlers (there was an army vehicle at the entrance) . The settlers then went to the opposite hill and entered private land, tore out olive saplings and raised a sort of permanent opposition there (a tent with signs around it) . We phone the owner of the land and understood that he was in contact with "Yesh Din" . From the hill we saw an armoured tractor of the army going to the south-west and followed it into Al Funduq.
9.40 Al Funduq
A new checkpoint was born today on the road between Al Funduq and Haja about 200 metres north of the area that was blocked two weeks ago. We saw the tractor at work and within 20 minutes hills of stones and dirt and rubbish rose up at the place where previously the main artery of traffic which connected Tulkarm and Jenin in the area of Qalqiliya through Beit Lid- Kfar Kadum –Haja-Al Funduq. The cars went back along the way they had come and pedestrians began to gather. "What are they doing?" someone asked. "They will not stop until they have pushed us back 1000 years to the horse and cart. The despair is obvious on the faces of the shop owners next to the road who will now lose their customers.
Two weeks ago when the road was also blocked, Jihad Udi, a worker of the municipality brought the army tractors to our attention in the critical areas where the fork of the tractor had pushed away the ground for the municipal pipeline.He says that they heard him and has done on purpose. They had also burst a water pipe and the water rose to the sky. Also olive trees were broken. We saw the heavy tracks of the tractor in the small olive grove. We saw branches which had been broken off 3 trees. We were taken on a reconnaissance trip and saw the broken pipe and the temporary plastic connection which had been laid down by the municipality. We also saw the damage the settlers had done. Jihad Udi is prepared to bear witness to all this. His phone number is 0522221586.
Is it possible that this checkpoint was raised because the someone in the army saw the damage that had been done the previous time which had destroyed the way of life of the area? We tried to find out but when we asked the sergeant he refused to answer us.
The area is blocked at 3 different points. But it seems as if in the west toward Azvat Rasbib is open.
The place is empty and there isn't any traffic.
A "rolling" checkpoint [unannounced mobile roadblock] has been set up here. Our question for the reason was unanswered.
There are lines of about 10 cars in each direction. Not all the cars are checked. On the other hand, pedestrians are asked to raise their shirts.
We were shocked to see that there are two lanes here: one for Jews and one for Israeli Arabs. The sign set up at the entrance to the lane for Jews says that the passage is allowed only to "Israelis who are entitled to immigrate to Israel according to the Law of Return 1950". What a disgrace!
Empty roads and sparse traffic everywhere
06:40-07:00 - The encirclement of the city is off, Isareli & Palestinian vehicles go in and out of the city after being checked by the border policemen manning this checkpoint. A group of young children who go to school in Israel come out running to their transportation vehicles. An attempt to find out how come Palestinian children study in Israeli villages was not successful; perhaps one of the parents is an Israeli citizen; such mixed marriages abound in Qalqiliya and many people who live here carry Israeli IDs.
At the entrance to Azzun there are no soldiers, the curfew is off, but the concrete blocks are still there.
09:15-09:45 (on the way back from Beit Iba) - Tulkarm checkpoints are manned by reserve soldiers, who are more judicious as a rule than the regulars. On the entrance side no lines at all, on the exit side a fairly short line of waiting cars, moving fast.
Jubara & A-Ras
09:50-10:30 - The new reserve soldiers up at gate 753 (up the village) ask us to wait while they call the Operations Room to find out if they can let us pass. Down at Ar-Ras the traffic is sparse, the soldiers friendly, but there is a dog-handler whose dog checks a taxi thoroughly, apparently to train the dog, not due to specific suspicions.