The entrances to Kifel Haret and Zeita are still blocked and goods are taken over back to back.
14.30 Checkpoint Za'tara/Tapuach
18 cars in both directions which pass swiftly.
Is a new checkpoint being built here? A huge army tractor is levelling the area and it seems that the road is going to be widened. This will be the third checkpoint over 7 kilometres...checkpoint of Huwwara to the crossroads of Za'tara. Maybe the whole of road 60 should be converted into a stretch of checkpoints.
14.40 Huwwara The sign forbidding Israelis to enter area A is covered by posters calling on the settlers to put up new colonies. So if in the future an Israeli citizen will be detained for having gone into the area he will be able to ask...but where is it written?
Many people stand at the back of the turnstiles but there is a strange silence. The humanitarian line moves along steadily during our entire shift. The Palestinians say that today the checkpoint is a good one. It is sad to see how people have to get used to a bad situation and then to say that this bad situation is "good". No lines of cars and now and again the dogtrainer comes but does not check.
3 times men were detained and after 5-30 minutes are freed.
A man comes with a woman who went through the checkpoint an hour ago and forgot her ID. The commander looks at him not knowing what they want. The man begins to stutter and then the commander asks what her name is and when he tells him hands him the orange ID which was in his hand all the time and says, "She must not forget it again. THEY lose too many IDs." He only wanted to enjoy himself a bit and to make them worry. To show his power.
15.55 A man comes and says that the soldier in the humanitarian line is shouting at the women and older men and humiliating them. The soldier has a big 10 written on his jacket. We had not noticed him doing this but as soon as he saw us looking at him he left. He should be watched,
16.00 An ambulance with sirens screaming arrives and as the one lane is blocked takes the second. But the soldier ignores him. The ambulance had put off the siren when it came to the checkpoint as is ordered. The soldier takes his time going to the private car in the first lane. I call him and ask him to go to the ambulance where the crew are waving their hands and obviously in distress. But he just comes on slowly and says "What do you think I am doing? Playing chess." When the car drives off the ambulance comes forward and at least five minutes have been lost. May that same soldier never know the feeling of a life which was lost because those 5 minutes prevented the patient getting to the hospital on time.
The university vacation starts tomorrow until 12.1.2008 or after the holiday 23.12...this was from different students.
16.15 A man who went on foot on an apartheid road to Beit Furik was detained by an army jeep. First the soldiers from afar signed to him to stop...they were also on foot and he stopped and waited. He could have run away as they were far off. They checked his ID and all went on their way.
16.30 Beit Furik.
Today a driver says the checkpoint is good. Only one car and few pedestrians who pass quickly. An old man sits and smokes a cigarette in the shed and has a cup of coffee which the soldier tells us proudly that he made for him. The commander who tells us to make a note of his name, Vadir Kalminian, sends us away and will not tell us how long the man has been there or why. He and another 5 soldiers stop the checking and stand around us and say that they will not go on checking until we leave. A line begins to form. I phone R. at the DCO firstly about the old man. Why should an old man have to be detained in the freezing Nablus weather and also that the checkpoint has been closed because of our presence. He advises us to advance to the beginning of the checkpoint and then to phone him. He says he will not send a captain of the DCO for the old man but if the soldiers close the checkpoint he will have to do so.
When we advanced the soldiers freed the old man and we decided that it was pointless to bother the DCO as it would take them an hour to get there and the Palestinians would freeze in the cold. We moved back and the commander came to explain to us that his job was not to allow anyone who did not live there to pass through to Beit Furik. I asked him if this was what he had hoped to do when he enlisted and he was a bit confused but then said that Beit Furik is a village full of terrorists . He quotes the lectures he has heard without thinking too much about them.
When we leave a taxi driver insists on taking us 20 metres to our car and that warms the heart.
17.30 Huwwara, Hardly any movement and a driver tells us to go to Za'tara where there is a long line but at 17.50 we find no line and only a few cars,.
Translation: Suzanne O.
It is a particularly calm day. There are almost no queues at Tapuach. In the morning there is no roadblock at Yitzhar Junction. It was set up later, when we were on our way back.
At Huwwara there are few leaving but many entering. As usual the car park is crowded and, amazingly, clean. Someone cleaned and collected up all the rubbish. There are also a few stalls selling coffee, bagels and even herbs for planting.
The roadblock commander, A., welcomes us with a smile and is polite. During the short conversation we hold with him he turns out to be a humane and sensitive person, one who relates to the Palestinians as people like himself. Apparently due to his influence and guidance the whole team behaves efficiently and properly.
At Beit Furiq too there are very few crossing. As we near the roadblock the soldiers welcome us, all together, by shouting at us to keep back. The commander comes over to us and explains, politely but firmly, that we are forbidden to cross the white line painted on the road, before the entrance to the roadblock. This means that it not possible even to stand near the turnstiles so that we can see what is going on there.
Since there was no queue and everything was calm; we decided to accept the ruling and moved away. We did not want to make a fuss. However, it is time that the business with the line preventing us from getting close is dealt with.
12.50 Kif al Haras is still closed and cars waiting on both sides of the road.
12.55 Marda is open. Zeita is closed and cars on both sides of the checkpoint.
13.00 Za'tara. 5 cars who pass within 5 minutes.
13.12 Burin. Two jeeps, a bulldozer and an army D-9 are digging at the side of the road. The checkpoint is not manned.
13.20 Beit Furik
At the upper car park is only one car which after a short wait goes through in the direction of Nablus. The checkpoint is quiet and people go through with no problems. One of the soldiers bursts out at us. "Why have you come to bother us. We have already been on our feet for 18 hours. Come some other day." The commander asks us to stand behind the white line but we say we are soon going on our way and he does not insist.
On the road opposite Salem is an armyjeep and next to it three signs to stop but the soldiers will not tell us why they are there.
We see an ambulance of the Red Cross which has stopped in the car park. R. the commander also comes and tells us that an elderly woman was knocked over by one of the taxis and her foot has been hurt. She is at once taken to Nablus.
The waiting period is said to be between 2 hours to 15 minutes and one says that today the checkpoint is good and he has waited only 40 minutes. No one bothers us to stay in the sterile area.
A Palestinian is ordered to put all his furniture through the army X-ray vehicle and goes on to the parking lot.
Now and again belts are taken off and most of the time only IDs are checked. There are 2 checking posts and sometimes a third is opened.
14.30 A large taxi arrives and both the car and the passengers are checked by 4 soldiers...everything is checked. Another taxi arrives and two men are sent back to Nablus.
15.10 The prayer of Mincha which is a surrealistic scene...they pray and continue the checking.
The commander explains the difference between "Braslaviem" and the followers of Nachman (a religious jewish sects)...the latter come with loud singing and give doughnuts to the soldiers. The former only want to get to the graves in Nablus and Beit Furik and have to be stopped.
A corner for humour. A young Palestinian comes to us and asks us to explain an SMS which he received. We look and burst out laughing. He has been asked by his telephone company to pass on the word love and so to give 10 shekel to their 'shir-u'trom' (an israeli fundraising for the IDF) The enlightened occupation at its best.
Here also is an army jeep and in it three signs to stop. Micky goes to the soldiers and they said that this is for the Jews who want to go to the illegal outposts. In the evening we hear that these Jews are being evacuated.
16.05 Zatara. 20 cars which are well checked but not delayed for longed and from the south 8 cars.
Translation: Tal H.
15:00 Za'tara/Tapuach Junction - empty in all directions
Yitzhar-Huwwara Junction -
Army roadblock checking Israeli vehicles, probably following the colonist projects foreseen for today.
15:15 - Huwwara Checkpoint
Checkpoint commander - Second Lieutenant A.; DCO representative -T.;
3 active checking posts. X-Ray truck active - situated conveniently in the middle of a deep mud puddle. Which complicates the recovery of luggage into the porter carts.
Upon our arrival -one detainee in the concrete cell - a taxi driver caught driving on the Jews-only road from the Checkpoint towards Alon More colony. According to the CP commander he is suspected with carrying weapons. Galit was not allowed to talk to him - "He might be hostile".
The special side line for women children and the elderly is open and functioning all the time. The pedestrians waiting behind the turnstiles are impeccable single files. The air is filled mostly with a shrill trio of shrieking MPwomen - at the Palestinians, at one another, and just to let off steam.
15:30 - A soldier catches a young man trying to 'leak' out through the entry turnstiles instead of the usual checking procedures. Full chase, weapons drawn, catch. Our men beam. Got him.
A resident of Beit Dajan approaches and tells us that yesterday at the Beit Furik Checkpoint, when he wanted to enter Nablus with a vehicle he bought for its parts, the police confiscated the car and took its papers, to the Ariel police station. He was not handed any paper witnessing the procedure. Noa calls the army hotline that promises to look into it.
The body checks are strict as usual: a girl soldier pats down the t-shirted back of a man turning around to show his middle. A young man wearing sweat pants is required to tolerate a thorough touch-check of his crotch with a manual magnetometer.
16:20 - our men have caught another 'sneaker'. When Galit called the hotline to ask about the detainees, she was told that before the three punitive hours were up, nothing was to be done.
16:30 - Beit Furik Checkpoint
A bit further down the road bound for Alon More, another army barrier checking Isralei cars (which only slow down a bit and continue on their way).
At the checkpoint, vehicles are checked by a dog.
Pedestrians trickle through. Soldiers not hostile, and eventually get curious and want to hear our opinions of the checkpoints etc. And they did.
17:20 - Back to Huwwara Checkpoint
The detainees are still inside. This time the commander is aggressive towards us as well. "You know you shouldn't stand here!" he threatens to stop everything if we "disturb" him again (after asking him what about the detainees).
Just before we left for Beit Furik, an Israeli couple from Dir Al Asad is detained for having entered Nablus. The man stands with a crutch. As we return to Huwwara, they are still standing there. The man paces restlessly, wrapped in a blanket (it is very cold!). "Stop, you've harassed us enough!" he tells the CP commander. The officer obviously enjoys playing with their IDs in his pocket. The man approaches the checking shack and appeals to the DCO rep., loses his patience and becomes hysterical - cries, loses his breath, leans on the officer's shoulder who calls to the commander for help (the latter prefers to keep talking on his phone). The man collapses on the ground (A. still on the phone, a meter away).
Later we found out he fell as a result of a sudden severe rise in blood pressure and heart beat. A Palestinian medic waiting in one of the lines rushed to help him.
Soon an army ambulance arrived complete with doctor and three medics, armed with rifles and stretchers who stormed the shack. Then an army intensive care mobile unit arrived as well and the man was held in it for quite a while. Finally he got out and the medical corps left. His talk with Galit revealed that he underwent back surgery half a year ago.
Suffering frequent bouts of severe pain, he took an acquaintance's advice to consult some treatment in Nablus, and that was why they entered the city. He said he was son of a (army) bereaved family, and described the entire detention as pure harassment. He yelled at A. "I am a stinking Israeli!" A family relative picked them up at the checkpoint.
The Checkpoint emptied, and we left at 18:20.
Translation: Rachel B.S.
7.55 Za'tara – one car at the western checkpoint.
At the northern checkpoint: a bus is being checked. The passengers who are standing outside are being called by names by a female officer, and she is giving them their ID cards back, and they are getting back on the bus.
The CP commander comes to us and asks that we stay away from the Palestinians, we are keeping him from doing his job. When we ask if we are forbidden from talking to them, he says we are not, it's just that right now our presence on the spot is interfering. We could not understand what we were interfering with exactly, but as there was no need for any particular intervention on our part, we stayed in the place where we were allowed to stand.
8.05 another bus arrived and is being checked. The passengers are ordered to come out and commanded by the female officer to stand in a line. She is holding their ID cards, reading their names, and they get back on the bus.
8.10 a third bus arrives. Its passengers are waiting until the soldiers are done checking the passengers from previous bus.
8.13 the bus that arrived at 8.05 is leaving the CP. We are also leaving, counting on our way 12 vehicles that are waiting.
8.30 Beit Furik: there are a few pedestrians in the carrousels. 4 vehicles are waiting. The drivers, in reply to our question, say that it is ok right now, they only have to wait for a short time.
8.45 Huwwara: about 30 people are in the turnstiles. 3 checking posts and an X-ray machines are working. From time to time one of the people going through the turnstiles is being asked to bring his or her luggage over for examination on the X-ray machine. A., the CP commander, comes and speaks to us. He treats the palestininas humanely. When an old man who is walking with difficulty starts to walk towards Nablus, he lets him go past the checkpoint and arranges a ride for him.
9.20 A., the commander, is allowing the driver to enter Nablus. We can hear T. the DCO representative, who is standing near him, saying to him: "Don't do it, don't make any disorder". A. says it's fine, the driver is only going for half an hour, he will still be here when the driver comes back. It turns out that the driver did not have a permit to enter the city. Evidently, A. trusted him and let him go through any way. The parking lot near the checkpoint is very full, there is a lot of commotion, yelling and arguments among the Palestinians.
9.35 there are about 10 people at the checkpoint.
9.50 two checking posts are active. About 30 people are waiting in the turnstiles. A Palestinian arriving from Nablus tells us that the situation at Al-Baddhan checkpoint is very bad.
9.55 we left the checkpoint.
Translatyion: Ruth F.
There were no lines, only few cars and no inspections were preformed. The reserve soldiers that arrived in a jeep were aggressive, especially one of them who's expression left no doubt of his contempt for us. We didn't get into an argument and left after a short while due to lack of "work".
A long line of 50 cars that didn't move. We didn't stop but instead we called the Humanitarian Center and officer R' from the DCO, who took care of the event very efficiently, as the line dissolved quickly. On our way back there wasn't a single car there.
We arrived at 8:00- a very late hour for this checkpoint. There was in fact much traffic, but not as much as the one on Saturday, when we arrive early. There wasn't any pressure at the entrance to Nablus. There were two officers and a DCO officer. We didn't have a conversation with the soldiers or the officers. While we were talking with our guests and telling them of our past experiences at Huwwara, one of the soldiers intervened and asked when had all of those events taken place. He told his friends about what we said and presented it as "the lies these women tell, it's really unbelievable". Our mate from the "Oketz Unit" was active, but only on and off. We were glade she didn't let her dog enter the cars, because considering the rain and mud on that day, the consequences could have proven to be disastrous for the car seats.
When a truck was being inspected the cabs in line had to wait for 40 minutes. The passage for a car that was detained took about ten minutes.
We must once again note the rude behavior of the military policewomen.
Where do those girls learn that crude and insulting language, that humiliating behavior?
They had a Kidush, but the checkpoint wasn't closed.
We stood on the eastern side of the checkpoint, our backs were facing the field and behind us were Dir El Hatib and Alon Moree. We were on the same level as the white line but in front of it- standing in a place from which we could see what was happening. We didn't approach anyone, we didn't intervene, we only stood there and talked to each other.
The guests filmed us. Suddenly there was a racket- the soldiers said they would close the checkpoint until we left. We refused to leave. "It's the brigade commander's order" we were told.
They began with the provocations- they got the Palestinians against us. "We are closing the checkpoint until they leave- and for every five minutes they are here we will pay". The Palestinians obviously tried convincing us to leave- but we kept refusing. We told the soldiers that we would not leave- it was as clear as that.
We called the spokesman of the HQ, the brigade commander and the head of the DCO.
The first two answered and promised to take care of it. Then we got a call from the regiment commander who thought we might have been bothering the soldiers- we responded to that.
After less then five minutes the checkpoint was open, to the soldier's great disappointment, after promising us that they wouldn't open the checkpoint even if we called the military of staff".
D' the DCO representative came and talked to the soldiers who said we had crossed the road and came to the turnstiles- which of course we didn't do. They promised the camerawomen that they would break her camera, it was Saturday and they were religious.
This wouldn't look good on the Norwegian TV, and we didn't spare them the explanations about who has what to hide- and we were especially upset to the way the closure of the checkpoint effect the Palestinians.
This occupations must be stopped!
Translation: Rachel B.
6.30 - Sha'ar Shomron - there is no police at the gate to the P.A. territories, and a long line of cars at the exit.
The new platform that has appeared in front of the exit from Ariel and looks like a parking lot, is evidently the conection to the road being paved and designated to be the lane to the opposite direction.
6.40 - Za'tara - 7 cars from the west and 7 from the north.
Between the checkpoint and watch tower there is a new concrete structure protected by sacks of sand for the soldier on duty. Commander of the checkpoint, Second Lieutenant T. refuses to give out any information.
We see, same as last week, that minibuses with their passengers are being transferred to the parking lot to wait. Later on T. from the DCO that these orders are theirs, as inspection of IDs of about 10 people holds up the passage in the CP for too long. The problem that we noticed, however, both this week and last week, is that private cars are being allowed to go through the CP while the minibuses and their passengers are being left aside and neglected, thus getting held up for a long time. Just before we left, we saw a minibus coming from the west being directed to the parking lot. The problem here could be even more serious, as the parking lot is farther out of the soldiers' sight, there is greater chance they will forget to attend to the vehicles and people over there. By the time we left the place, at 7.00, there were already 22 cars waiting in line coming from the north.
The checkpoints at Yitzhar and the entrance to Huwwara are not manned.
7.15 - Huwwara -
Lines are short, passage in the checkpoint is going smoothly. The CP commander is calm, and lets us in on what is happening.
7.35 - Beit Furik -
No lines of people or cars. We arrived at the time of change in shifts, and the CP is at a standstill. The new commander announces aggressively that if we do not move behind the white line he will stop the checkpoint. no problems (besides us) are noticed, so we leave the place.
8.00 - Awarta -
14 trucks at the entrance to Nablus and a line without an end anywhere within visioin at the exit from Nablus. Only 3 soldiers are on duty, and they also seem to be operating as if they were on an Italian strike. They claim they are working as fast as they can. There is only one lane for entrance and exit. During the 20 minutes that we were observing only one care was allwed to enter Nablus.
We called up the DCO and returned to Huwwara to look for the DCO representative.
8.30 - Huwwara - we informed the DCO T. about the situation at Awarta. He made a phone call, and came up to tell us that help was sent over. A woman with walking difficulty is leaning on the concrete wall next to the cars passage. Her husband is asking to allow them to order a cab from the other side, and the soldier sends him looking for a cab with passage permit to Nablus. At our request, the DCO intervenes and arranges for a car with a permit, which is going through anyway, to take the couple to the cab station at the other side . a little bit of good will and understanding on everybody's part makes it possible to help, even a little bit, within the chaotic reality of the CP.
R., another DCO arrives. We ask for his help regarding the situation in Awarta, and he too promised to see to it.
9.00 - we returned to Awarta. The CP is empty of cars in both directions!!! Unfortunately, we see that indifference of soldiers can affect affairs at the checkpoint, and in this particular case at Awarta has caused several hours of delay for many people and cars.
Translation: Hanna K.
16:00 Awarta -
3 cars are waiting to leave Nablus and 2 to enter it. The passage is quick without delays.
16:10 - Beit Furik -
The taxi drivers at the exit from Beit Furik tell us that the cars are waiting a long time to enter Nablus.
From the conversation with the drivers of the 5 waiting cars it turns out that they have been waiting for over an hour. When we arrive at the CP, immediately when we crossed the white line, 3 soldiers came running, and their colleagues joined them so that all the 6 soldiers of the shift stood around us (perhaps one was left at the booth, but none was left to let pass the many Palestinians who crowded behind the turnstiles or the long row of cars coming from Nablus, whose end we couldn't see).
The usual argument that we disturb them in their work, that we should remove ourselves to the other side of the white line, otherwise they won't let the Palestinians pass. The commander is very hostile.
There is no point in arguing, it is cold, the wind blows dust into our eyes and our heart aches for all these people, babies, sick people, so we retreat to behind the white line.
The commander couldn't care less about the instructions of the legal adviser for the occupied territories - he just won't let anybody pass the white line and that's it.
The first car that passes stops next to us. Two distinguished gentlemen sit in it and one of them addresses us in an angry voice: "the soldier told us that if you are here, he doesn't let us pass!"
We begin explaining and he stops us and says: "continue coming, don't give up. The soldiers don't want you here, but well done to you that you come" and when the car goes on driving he repeats: "well done!"
The CP commander comes running and scolds us for stopping cars at the CP.
At the beginning I couldn't understand what he meant, and then it transpired that he meant the car that stopped near us, far from the CP, quite a distance beyond the crazy white line... From the moment we retreated to the white line the soldiers began letting pass almost without any checking and in five minutes all the pedestrians (because of the distance an exact estimate is impossible, but it seems there were about 100) and a large part of the cars.
16:50 - Huwwara -
Many people crowd near the turnstiles, near the "humanitarian" passageway, to leave Nablus. In the dark and because of the distance, it is difficult to estimate their number, they look like a big human block, but surely there are over 100 people.
When we arrive a young woman is investigated near the stairs to the parking area and a few young men are waiting for her. It turns out that she tried to leave Nablus by way of the turnstile intended for the entry. One of the soldiers wants to detain her, the other jests with her and she in turn jests with him (does she have another option?). The waiting lads become nervous at this situation and fear for her honor. The tension grows and Dorit tries to calm it, all the more because we got the impression that the jesting soldiers tries to persuade his colleagues not to detain her. She is led into the "women's checking booth" and the young men relax only when we point out that it is a woman soldier who enters with her, not a man. The young men leave, and the girl remains standing, with her girl friend, near the passages behind the turnstiles.
One of the soldiers notices that I crossed the white line and arrives in haste to remove me. I refuse and he calls his commander, an officer with the rank of a lieutenant, who says he'll call the police. I hear him say into the phone that "the Machsomwatch women create havoc at the CP".
In the meantime an elderly man, an Israeli citizen Palestinian from Faradis turns to us (yes, yes, the same man who six months ago volunteered to transport to Gaza the man who underwent heart surgery who lay on the pavement at the CP and he sends warm regards to Yehudit L.). His mother is an invalid, lives in Nablus, and he is detained each time he comes to visit her. His four year old son is due to undergo next week in Haifa a serious operation on his legs and he very much wants his mother and sister to come to him from Nablus. He submitted a request but it doesn't seems probable that his will be granted.
17:30 - The detained girl is released and we leave.
At Za'tara - there are 6 cars from north to south and 3 from west to east.
Translation: Hanna K.
14:30 - Huwwara:
When we arrived the taxi drivers complained that in the last two days, according to them in honor of the release of the prisoners, the Israeli police wrote traffic tickets incessantly.
According to them all of them got such tickets, all the time, and furthermore one of the policemen hit Palestinians.
They are afraid to submit appeals because if they did the police would abuse them even more.
There is the usual crowd at the CP, but no special tension.
15:45 - Beit Furik CP:
8 cars at the exit from Nablus. A sparse pedestrian traffic.
Translation: Ruth F.
7:15- Kifer Haras
The entrance was blocked by rocks (of medium size). A jeep and three soldiers were there.
"Back to Back" exchange of cargo was preformed. The residents that walked by foot from their village said that there was a Judaic tomb in the village that Israelis came to pray by. When they come there they move the rocks and enter with their vehicles, then they put the rocks back again.
At the entrance to the village were large cement bricks blocking the road. There were no soldiers, back to back exchange of cargo was performed.
7:50 Za'tara/Tapouah junction
Three inspection posts were manned by a large number of soldiers, so there were no lines from the direction of Nablus. The inspections were superficial and quick.
At the parking lot were more free spots there on other days, there were few people heading out or in, few cars were passing, quiet, a large garbage truck was standing on the side, which explains why the area was clean.
Next to us a car was parked, the passengers in it said they had been detained for over two hours. They came from Awarta and drove on the road that is intended only for Jews and were caught!! They were released without us intervening, a few minutes after we had arrived.
Everything was flowing and working as usual! A distressing feeling that business is as usual.
8:50- Beit Furik
There were no lines, not much traffic... quiet. A new soldier was there- he was courteous.