Translation: Suzanne O.
Zeita - Jima'ayn
Concrete blocks bar the exit to the road.
There are no vehicles. As we left the roadblock 3 - 4 cars arrived from the north.
There are 14 vehicles in the queue. A driver whom we approach tells us that he has been queuing for an hour.
Palestinians, among them the mayor of Beit Dejan, crowd around us and complain about the difficulties and the injustices perpetrated by the soldiers against them. On Saturday a driver from Nablus had his sick father in his car with him. The soldiers insisted that the father alight from the vehicle and cross the roadblock on foot. During the last Festival families from Nablus, wearing their festive clothes, came to visit their relatives in Beit Furiq and Beit Dejan: the soldiers prevented them from crossing and they were forced to return home.
The mayor of Beit Dejan told us that on Thursday he approached a soldier, wanting to speak to him. The response from the soldier was: "I don't want to talk to you, we are the Golani Brigade!" He adds that one of the drivers wanted to speak to the soldiers and they dismissed him out of hand, almost beating him.
One driver complained that the roadblock was opened at 6:30 a.m., instead of at 5:00 a.m., and he grumbled: "How can I work in this situation?"
A lorry in the queue, empty, turns back. It appears that the driver's patience had worn out.
8:50 a.m. At the roadblock
To our surprise the soldiers do not dismiss us, but are prepared to talk to us. They check car licences efficiently, without delay. We present the complaints of the drivers about the tardy opening of the roadblock to the commander. According to him the roadblock opened at 6:00 a.m., and that accords with his orders.
We monitored a driver from the time he arrived at the queue; it took him 20 minutes to cross.
There are few pedestrians at the turnstiles; the inspections are swift.
We leave and count seven cars in the queue.
There are no vehicles. Abu Bakar, who we met there, explains that it is due to the fact that the soldiers here today are decent.
There are about 40 people at the turnstiles. There are three checkpoints, a dog handler and her dog as well as the gorman.
The soldier inspecting the documents of cars entering Nablus is very unhappy to see us wandering about the roadblock and daring to cross the sacred white line. He complains about it to the DCO representative, 1st sergeant T., who apparently puts him in his place since we are not harming the country's security. This leaves the soldier with no choice but to follow us with his eyes, glowering.
We raise the issue of the opening time of the roadblock at Beit Furiq with T. According to him the roadblock should open at 5:00 a.m. While we are present he calls Heiman at the DCO who promises to deal with the problem. We passed the information to tomorrow's morning shift so that they can follow up what happens.
About 20 - 25 people are crowded into the humanitarian lane, the reason is not clear. We call T., who goes over and reinforces the inspection team.
The humanitarian lane is clear.
We leave the roadblock.
Translation: Suzanne O.
It is a festival for the Palestinians and also a celebration for the soldiers of the Givati Brigade - today is their last day at the roadblock.
There is a Border Police roadblock at Sha'ar Shomron.
The entrances to Marda and Zeita are bare of people and cars. They are still blocked.
A military vehicle is parked beside the solitary house.
There are five cars from the west and few cars from the direction of Huwwara; they pass through quickly.
The rigid roadblock command is not prepared to give us details and the cold sends us on.
The town is still empty, not a soul in the streets.
7:05 a.m. At the Borin/Yitzhar roadblocks there are no inspections.
Huwwara roadblock is almost empty, few cars or people: a combination of the festival and the weather.
There is no one in either the cell or the detainees' shed.
A large group of sergeants and young officers crowd around. These are the Golani commanders who are taking over the roadblock from today.
According to the company commander they have given the soldiers a two week preparation period including an attempt to explain to them the difference between the work they have been doing up to now in Gaza and what they can expect here at the roadblock. We talked about our place at the roadblocks in general and about the white line in particular, according to him he knows that we are there to help.
The roadblock is deserted. There are three unemployed soldiers.
The car park is empty, even the tea vendor is not present.
Very few people going into the town. The roadblock commander is shocked at the fact that we crossed the white line and instructs the taxi, which had begun the inspection of its passengers, to collect its passengers and drive to the rear. It has to wait there until we, too, retreat.
According to them these are their orders and the law does not interest them.
The few cars carrying passengers to the roadblock risk getting close to the roadblock to set them down, it appears that the cold and the rain have overcome their fear of the arbitrary behaviour of the soldiers.
Back at Huwwara
A queue of pedestrians is beginning to build up. An additional soldier is sent to assist at the humanitarian lane. Women and children are sent with their baggage to the x-ray machine and they drag it along in the rain.
The dog soils the cars with mud but we are promised that the dog handler will wipe down the seats after the inspection.
The cold is bone chilling and light rain falls constantly.
The Golani commanders continue with their changeover. They look into every aspect of the inspection process but try not to cause hold-ups.
9:00 a.m. There is no activity at the Borin/Yitzhar Junction.
The town is starting to wake up but most of the shops are closed.
There are six cars in the queue. The area is full of female and male soldiers of the Engineering Corps who are collecting up the rubbish. We tried to find out the reason for the clean up and were told that it is routine IDF cleaning.
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.
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.
13.25 - At the hitching post near Ariel there was an armoured car and 5 armed soldiers.
At 1645 there were 3 soldiers only.
Marda was open but Zeita still closed.
23 cars in both directions and swift passage. The commander says there are no special alerts and people have their IDs checked.
13.55 Checkpoint at Beit Furik.
As soon as we arrived the commander , a sergeant C. Z. shouted at us that we had overdone it and that we were acting with a "small head." We had only got there and already we were getting it. We saw about 20 pedestrians and cars passing without delay. Checking of IDs, baggage compartment.
The commander complains about us on the communication device saying that we were bothering them at their work, causing a commotion and wandering around their legs. Merav films and he tries to stop her with his body. He stops both the car lane and that of the pedestrian and demands that we move off.
People start piling up. Merav phones the humanitarian centre and complains about his behaviour. One of the soldiers shouts at us that people were hurrying at home and to work and because of us were being delayed.
14.05 - We moved back and the commander came to demand that Merav give her name and we in turn demanded that he give his full name. We go behind the white line but he does not open the checkpoint. It takes a few minutes more. The people say they have been waiting an hour. We also see people wanting to enter Nablus being detained. It takes two minutes before the turnstiles are opened.
3 lines in the beginning and some people are told to remove their belts and others not. It is not clear to us how it is decided who should do so. A bus stops and the people get down, the dog checks and two minutes later go on their way.2 dogs with their trainers in the area.
A police car arrives with a young man handcuffed who is taken to the isolation. It seems he was caught by the police ( a car thief) but they have been called to another incident and so will use the isolation.
At 16.00 they returned to take him away.
On the way to the isolation the policeman shouts at us to get out of the way and that we are too near. We do not understand as we had not passed the white line. He insists and so we move to a "new white line".
After he left we moved to our original position.
14.40 One lane is cancelled because the soldier guarding the woman soldier has left his post and she cannot check people when unguarded.
15.05 A military policewoman shouts at the Palestinians who are complaining at the length of time they have to wait. "Go back. Go back. You will wait as long as I want you to and if necessary you will wait 4 hours."
A truck has been detained for two hours because it travelled on the Madison road.
15.08 The third line starts again to work as the commander noticed what is happening and angry that the military policewoman did not bring this to his notice before.
A young man says he has been detained two hours.
2 cars are checked at the same time by the dogtrainer.
16.00 The police return to take the man. The delinquent truck after 3 hours goes on its way.
16.30 The entrance to the village of Beita is blocked by an armoured car and a soldier aims his weapons at the cars. We entered the road and then while 5 cars ahead of us want to enter and the same number to leave the soldiers allow them through, first one then the other, Maybe because they saw our car.
16.40 Za'tara 13 cars in both directions.
At the entrance to Marda an armoured car which does not block the way.
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.
Translation: Rachel B.S.
Today is no different than any other day. We meet with the men and women of the Palestinian people wasting and losing their lives at the checkpoint for endless and countless hours and days. They are standing there, mourning the loss of their time and dignity. The men are crowded up on one side behind the turnstiles, waiting for their turn to go through the humiliation of stripping, searching and questioning, while the other halves of their family, the women and children, who have gone through a shorter line, are waiting for the men to come out and join them to go home. The women's eyes are searching for the familiar hair or color of a piece of clothing, sometimes trying to ask on the cell-phone - how long do you think you will take. Today they have stood for an hour - hour and a half, less than they do some other days, when they might be standing for two or three hours.
It's the Saturday just before the holiday of Eid al Adha, that begins this coming Wednesday. Many people return from Nablus with the clothes or food for which they went shopping, many are sent to the x-ray machine, definitely an extra burden.
The students have just finished the semester, to begin their one month vacation this week.
At two-thirty pm, we hear a soldier shouting and running towards the one-way turnstile through which one passes towards Nablus. The soldier is dragging a man through the turnstile, managing to squeeze him in opposite the direction in which it turns. He shouts that this man was trying to bypass the line. What we could see, was the soldier pulling a man from the other side of the turnstile by force, until he managed to squeeze him through in the opposite direction. The man was taken to the detainees cage as if he was a major villain. This vicious lie and action got support from the other soldiers. It was so terribly easy. Our protests did not help at all, and as a matter of a fact, we were unable to see the man in the cage any more.
We left the place after about an hour and a half, and we don't know what became of him afterwards. We also don't know what became of another detainee who was put in the cage because his name was on the list, and we heard from him that he had just been released from administrative arrest recently. The soldiers told us this man was wanted. The MP officer repeated the mantra that the IDs are being checked, it will take as long as necessary, and release will or will not take place in accordance with the results.
During that time a young man who reached his turn to be checked had to untie a neatly done knot of a plastic bag, in which there were neatly arranged some books and notebooks and a wrapped gift. The bag got torn during the process, and the man came out humiliated and defeated, with a torn plastic bag in his hands, its contents scattered, and his belt and half of his jacket hanging over the whole pile. His face did not show what he was feeling, and the bag was bearing the entire testimony.
There were some peddlers in the full parking lot, selling soft drinks, bread, and some toys, among them were our friends M. and his brother, and the little boy M., at the corner, selling candy cones. A little boy earns bread for his family like a big merchant. Selling each bag for a low price, but with a big profit. We only hope that the army does not chase him away. Indeed lately the army doesn't chase away or abuse the peddlers. Authority is exercised in a different way. Last Thursday the peddlers and the cars were all chased out of the parking lot and told they would be allowed back after they clean up the area. Otherwise the peddlers would not be allowed to sell their stuff, because it messes up the place, and the cars will be kept from going on if there is garbage at the side. The peddlers say that no one argued, as there was no point, it doesn't matter what is inside the mind of that soldier or the purpose of this forced project, everybody just pitched in and cleaned up the place together.
14.34 Zeita is closed.
At Za'tara no waiting and one checkpoint area, From the north 2 checking areas and 70 cars waiting.
We informed the centre and U. promised to check.
At Yitzhar there is a Hummer and a tractor levelling the area.
A young man and an older one are detained. The older man had taken his vehicle on a Jewish road which he had chosen as he had a very heavy load to deliver which would have been difficult along the way through Huwwara and Awarta. He was told that he would be detained for 6 hours but was freed sooner.
We tried to persuade the representative of the DCO that at least now after the punishment he would let him go through the short way but this did not enter his mind at all.
A young man had not wanted to go to the x-ray machine without his id and preferred to sit in the isolation and he was also freed sooner.
3 checking areas for men and the x-ray device was not working. IDs, parcels and a body search.
About 170 people wait in lines with a side lane. 2 checking areas for cars and a permit needed to enter. Careful checking.
We leave two members of the Ecumenical council whom we have met a number of times. They are going back to their homes in Poland. They say the atmosphere at the checkpoint is different today because the soldiers are not so violent and aggressive.
16.10 Beit Furik.
Police tell us not to pass the white line and not to make problems and go on their way. No pressure or detainees. We cannot see where the line from Nablus ends. We could see cars were not being checked but not why this was so. We stop a Hummer and ask why this is so and the captain says there must be a reason but that we have nothing to do with the handling of the checkpoint. We phone the centre and ask R. to check and soon the checking starts up again but the soldiers take their time and there are intervals of waiting.
15 cars and a Hummer and this also at the checkpoint on road 60 but cars are not stopped.
Za'tara about 30 cars in both directions and at Zeita the entrance is closed. We stop at the side of the road and see a Hummer and two soldiers on the road below.
Translation: Suzanne O.
One or two kilometres after the customary roadblock on Road No. 5, there is a Special Police Unit snap roadblock. They are inspecting the boot of the cars too.
The entrance to Marda is open; concrete blocks bar the entrance to Zeita.
There are 30 cars from the direction of Huwwara to Ramallah.
There are a lot of soldiers. There are no queues. In the pit we find Ahmad who was arrested on the 23rd and imprisoned for about a month. He was released without being told why he had been arrested. Since then he is detained every day at the roadblock. He tells us that now the soldiers are O.K. and detain him each time just for a little while. He lives near the Beit Alma Camp and he assumes that the soldiers suspect that he knows wanted men but no one investigates him or asks him questions, they just detain him every day. He speaks fluent Hebrew and has worked in the industrial area of Barkan for years. The soldiers tell us that they have orders to detain him. They are polite and attentive.
All quiet, the traffic is light both of pedestrians and cars.
Between 75 - 80 cars are in the queue from Huwwara. The roadblock commander (Engineering Corps) tells us that they are looking for a particular document. She was polite and businesslike.
Marda and Zeita
As this morning.
Translation: Rachel B.S.
07:20 - Za'tara-Tapuach -
10 cars from the west. There is some pressure from the north, but it soon goes down, as inspection is done in three lanes at the same time.
Two buses are waiting for inspection. The passengers try to get off from one of them for a smoke, but a female soldier from the Military Police disciplines the 'naughty children', some of whom are old enough to be her grandparents, and tells them to get back on the bus. A few moments later, she returns with another male soldier. Now all the passengers are told to come down and stand in a circle. The Ids are being distributed to their owners.
Burin-Yitzhar checkpoint is not manned, and the traffic gets through smoothly.
7:50 - Huwwara -
When we arrive the soldiers are in the middle of a drill. We heard some shouting from the direction of the turnstiles, then the soldiers scatter in all directions in shooting posts. The inspections were stopped. We did not understand what was happening exactly, and were not ordered to keep out. Then we saw the CP commander going through all the posts, we calmed down. The whole thing took about five minutes. The commander A. was kind enough to explain to us what we have just seen.
A small number of people are going through the pedestrian passage. In the vehicle lanes there is more traffic coming from the south, but the inspections are going steadily without delays. The soldier on duty sits inside the protected cell, one car comes up close. After handing out the documentation, the driver is ordered to drive backwards a little bit, to allow visual inspection of the license plate once more.
The parking lot is full, but relatively clean. However, Palestinians claim and the CP commander confirms that the toilets are still out of order. A. promised to present the matter once more to his commanders. Today the Brigade commander is expected to pay a visit.
Eti needed to use the toilet, and was allowed to use the soldiers'. She said, among the usual graffiti with bad language and obscenities she found one in there that read: "mother, your son is suffering in Huwwara checkpoint".
8:50 - Beit Furik -
No lines in the cabs lot. Traffic is little. By the time we leave the pedestrian flow grows a little. We sat down quietly behind the white line at the end of the checkpoint. CP commander A. who was being very hostile the last time we met him two weeks earlier, comes up to us and asks us if there is anything wrong, and why do we come here at all. Apparently for some reason our conversation this time managed to soften him a little,and he was willing to let us advance sporadically towards the inspection posts.
9:20 - back at Huwwara -
The flow of people entering Nablus is bigger than usual. We tried to find out why the holiday is not for another week. Two men are held in detention. Commander A. says their names were found in the short list. He will release them only when he receives orders from the security service.
9:35 - a car with an Israeli license plate and a sign "test" arrives at the checkpoint. the driver has a Palestinian ID. The problem is resolved within a short time by the DCO representative and the CP commander, and he is allowed in.
9:45 - one of the detainees is released. The other one is wanted for questioning. Eventually he is released as well.
A bus going out is being held up for a long time (about 25 minutes), its passengers were ordered to come down and stay out until the inspection was completed.
10:10 leaving the checkpoint. There is no line at Za'tara-Tapuach crossroad.