Translation: Hanna K.
"Here I defend the homeland" said the reservist at the Zaatara/Tapuah CP "the homeland is from the Euphrates to the Tigris river".
06:15 There is a police CP at the Samaria Gate east
There is almost no traffic coming out of Ariel and the policeman does not stand at the center of the junction.
The entrance to Marda is open, there is a blockade at Zeita.
06:30 Za'tara/Tapuah junction:
There are no waiting cars coming from the west and few cars coming from Huwwara.
At the CP there still are reservists of the Airforce. There is no dog trainer and no dog. One bus is directed to the square for ID checking and is sent on its way within 6 minutes. The next bus went on its way without any checking, and so do most of the taxis and private cars.
At the Beita junction there is no activity.
The Yitzhar\Burin CPs are not manned.
Nahal Soldiers (some of which are yeshivas' students). There are very few people passing in both directions.
There are no detainees.
After the square there is a blue patrol car next to which there is a taxi. The driver came out of the parking lot without a belt and immediately got a report.
Therefore we stood at the entrance to the parking lot and warned all the drivers, as long as the patrol car lay in wait.
07:40 Awarta: A queue of five trucks at the entrance and none which unload back to back.
07:50 Beit Furik.
Eight cars are waiting to enter the town, few pedestrians. The routine which requires every driver to leave his vehicle and approach the soldiers with his papers is again in force, a procedure which adds a few moments of waiting.
The CP commander insist that we should not enter the area of his CP.
08:15 Back at Huwwara. It is still quiet, there is little traffic in all directions. The DCO points out that next week the semester will begin and then the volume of traffic will increase.
08:50 Tapuah/Za'tara junction. There are 16 cars coming from Nablus waiting.
Translation: Tal H.,
Shaar Shomron Checkpoint (entry into the West Bank) - dense police presence.
Marda village western entrance - open. We have been noticing this for some weeks now. Same at the eastern entrance.
Zeita-Jama'in village entrance - sealed with concrete blocks and iron gate, doubly secured.
14:00 - Za'tara Junction Checkpoint
One car passes eastbound, five cars waiting coming from the north (Nablus).
Relatively fast passage. Reservists manning the checking posts.
Soldiers securing Jewish settlers (i.e. colonists) at the hitchhikers' posts surrounding the junction roundabout. On our way back we notice the central (shooting) post manned by a soldier.
Beita village entrance - field noticeably burnt. Why? We assumed thorns and weeds had been scorched under control.
Burin-Yitzhar road blocks unmanned.
14:15 - Huwwara Checkpoint
Yells resonating throughout - soldier yelling ID numbers for checking.
The 'sterile' area is back in force: A soldier approaches the exit turnstiles and yells at the men getting their belts back into their pants and fixing their appearance after the inspection: "Get on with it, go, everyone!"
Someone got over-motivated, apparently, and painted "our" white line blue.
No sniffer-dog, nor dog-trainer. Well, it's a hot day. Dogs detect bombs only in the winter...
Lieutenant E. - checkpoint commander. Z. - DCO representative.
Since we did not see Mohammad anywhere - the boy who regularly cleans up the checkpoint compound, we asked Z. about him. Apparently he was hit by a truck inside Nablus a few dsays ago, and now both his legs are fractured. We were sad to hear this.
Three women pass a new washing machine through the special side line. They seem to have undergone an especially fastidious inspection, for when we congratulated them on their new machine, they signaled a choking gesture around their necks and looked at the soldiers...
A young man approaches us, in fluent Hebrew, and tells us he had a magnetic card until 2003, but when he went to get it re-validated, he was informed that he was GSS-prevented (black-listed for 'security' reasons). Z. calls up the DCO to inquire about him and announce there is nothing he can do about this. Because it's in the hands of the GSS. We gave the man Sylvia's number.
15:00 - Beit FuriK
One car waiting at the upper carpark.
At the entrance turnstiles, for the Nablus-bound pedestrians, we found new signs written in Arabic. We asked one of the people present in line and he translated for us:
"To stand one by one here by the turnstiles and cross one by one."
Y., the checkpoint commander, comes to greet us and ask-order us to get back.
We asked him about the signs, too, and here is how he translated them:
"You are kindly requested to wait by the turnstiles and pass one by one in order to avoid unpleasantness".
We asked if the kindly requested was written as an opener or as a thank you at he end of the sign. "I don't know" he answered, "I don't read Arabic." He came back and asked us to move back, the soldiers have been complaining about us, and since the checkpoint was functioning quietly without long waiting lines, we left.
15:30 Huwwara -
One of the women-soldiers yells: "Terrorist procedure in the compound!" All checking posts shut down. "Get back, get back!" the soldiers yell.
"Block the car park!" yells the commander. The entrance path was also blocked.
Inside the checkpoint, a dog-trainer walks her dog.
After about two minutes, they are summoned to the car park. Apparently a bonus had been hidden there for the dog. We witness the maneuver. Apparently such practices are common these days, after the boy was killed two weeks ago. This went on for about ten minutes. All the while, dozens of people waited outside the sheds, the sun beating down mercilessly. We estimated 60 people waiting to get out of Nablus.
Simple calculation yielded 10 minutes X 60 people = 600 minutes that had been wasted here. Ten hours. There were certainly hundreds more in the car park, as well as a throng waiting to enter Nablus.
Finally, the dog and its trainer hop into their car and drive away. The soldiers resume their positions, people stream towards the turnstiles. The shouts are resumed as well: "One by one, you hear?! One by one!!! Don't raise your voice at me, do you hear?!!"
After ten minutes all the cars waiting to enter had been let through.
16:00 - two women and a ten-year old girl are ordered back into line. Apparently, for having pushed and trying to pass without presenting IDs.
Z.: Everyone gets through in my shift. No one is turned back. We only talked to them and explained they shouldn't behave like that again...
16:45 - At the Shaar Shomron cars are lined up, the police is conducting checks.
Translation: Suzanne O.
There are almost no cars in the queue.
There are very few people crossing. There are almost no cars in the queue.
3 young people are detained.
When we ask, the soldiers tell us that their names appear on the lists and they are awaiting clarification. According to them, the detainees have only been held for about 5 minutes. We cannot check this out since we are unable to approach the detainees.
The soldiers are behaving reasonably well. They tell us that there are very few people, perhaps because of what happened at Huwwara the previous evening (a young Palestinian was shot dead by soldiers). They said that here there had also been a ‘mess' during the night. An armed person had been roaming around...
There are very few people crossing and quite a lot of soldiers. There are more officers than usual. Even so there does not seem to be any tension in the air. Two posh cars carrying VIPs cross.
The roadblock commander, N., comes over to talk to us. He is polite and friendly. He asks us nicely not to photograph the soldiers. There appears to be a lot of discussion here of the events of yesterday.
We hear people in the car park saying that the young man who was shot has not yet been identified and, anyway, he had only been carrying a telephone with an earpiece which was what the soldiers saw.
Someone leaving Nablus tells us that he has a pharmacy near Ariel, near the road: children from Beit Iksel threw stones and the soldiers ordered him and his neighbours to close their shops.
(Just a comment: on the way I heard on the radio that children threw stones on Bar Ilan Road in Jerusalem. I don't think that any shops were closed...)
There is no x-ray machine. The cars leaving are inspected extremely thoroughly - using dogs.
At the pedestrians' crossing there does not appear to be any more tension or bad feeling than usual. The female soldier inspecting documents jokes with the soldiers (as usual).
The DCO officer comes over to talk to us. He is very pleasant and cooperative.
There is no roadblock.
There are no cars in the queue.
Near Ariel it turns out that the shops, including the pharmacy, are now open.
Translation: Suzanne O.
The entrance to Marda is open and to Zeita closed.
Za'atra in both directions
From the north: there are three reservists working quickly, efficiently and politely. The inspection of passengers from a full coach took not more than 7 - 10 minutes.
At the main junction there are two lanes which function quite quickly, there are about 12 - 14 cars at any time during our stay.
Beita is open.
There is a mobile roadblock of an armoured car belonging to the military police: there are four soldiers and 11 cars, mostly taxis, carrying teachers and doctors on their way to work. All the cars had already crossed the Huwwara roadblock. There were no cars from the direction of Jit. The soldiers took all the documents from the cars at once. They inspected them very slowly, did not permit the people to come closer than 4 metres to the military vehicle, and sent them to the back if they did so.
When we got there people told us that they had already been waiting for 20 - 30 minutes which appeared to be reasonable seeing the pace of the inspection. The documents were returned to the passengers and drivers 35 minutes after our arrival. The telephone calls we made to every possible number illustrated that, at first, the Brigade denied that there was such a roadblock, and then, finally, at almost 9:00 a.m., we were informed that the roadblock had been removed; it is quite possible that it had been a ‘private incentive'.
One of the people said with bitter irony: "If there are no roadblocks there is no life, it's like water, like air".
After all the cars in the first round had left we told the soldiers our opinion of the pace of their inspections. The soldiers started to hold up cars again this time just from the direction of Huwwara. This time, until we left, they inspected the documents from each car individually.
The registration number of the military car is 6109183 and the regiment number is 322. We feel that a complaint should be lodged.
We met the DCO representative on his way to Yitzhar roadblock. There is no queue of people, none of cars and there are no detainees.
The tea/coffee vendor has put up an awning and seats of stones which have been gathered from the area, particularly he has put up a woven awning of mint bordered by boulders and decorated with sandstone rocks, thistles and large mallow. "Even the mouth of a lion can be furnished". (Yehuda Amichai)
There aren't many cars and the soldiers have two lanes working, according to the direction with the longest queue. They work quickly and politely. There is a dog handler. We did not see the dog working.
9 - 10:15 a.m.
There is no dog handler. The x-ray machine is present. There are no detainees. Cars enter; the soldier is efficient and polite...
Cars leaving Nablus: the inspection lengthens to 10 - 12 minutes. While we were there the inspections stopped for some 20 minutes. One of the soldiers said that the guards were having breakfast. The queue for the exit lengthened considerably as a result.
Three vehicles were parked at the side of the road, the drivers said that they had been held up for two hours, their keys and I.D. cards taken away, as punishment for parking at the entrance to the car park which is forbidden. They were permitted to leave about 10 minutes after our arrival.
Pedestrian queue: the women and elderly cross reasonably quickly.
The other queue is very, very slow, at any time during our stay there were between 35 - 40 people. The crossing from the middle to the head of the queue takes over half an hour. At first glance two lanes are functioning but in one there is a female soldier, chatting pleasantly with her guard, and letting people through little by little. Requests, via the DCO representative, that she speed up did not help. Possibly it was my mistake (Sna'it) in that I crossed the white line a little and got a little closer to her position to request politely that she speed up her inspection, after standing outside for about 40 minutes measuring the crawling queue. In hindsight, I understand that a complaint was lodged about it, and I apologise.
Unequivocal help was given by MachsomWatch: we saved a turtle slowly crossing the road at Huwwara, near the bus stop, from being run over.
Translator: Charles K.
12:57 Marda - The southwest gate is open! The northern gate - open.
Zeita - The entrance is closed.
13:03 Za'tara/Tapuach checkpoint -
We stop next to a minibus coming from the west that has already been detained for 15 minutes. He's allowed to continue without his passenger: she was born in Kuwait, married a Palestinian, her daughter is studying at the university in Nablus. She hasn't left her village for 10 years because her passport had expired. A few days ago she received a temporary permit, until she gets an ID card as part of a quota approved for a number of foreign residents who've been living here for many years with no documents. Despite her temporary permit, she wasn't allowed to pass through. We informed K. at the office center.
13:22 Eight vehicles on line from the west, one lane open, 30 vehicles waiting from the north, three lanes are open. Strict examination of all IDs against the short list, the inside of the vehicle and the luggage compartment.
13:27 All the vehicles are let through without being checked.
14:05 The vehicles are being checked again - we count 33 cars coming from the north (from Nablus/Huwwara).
14:15 No one is on duty at the Burin/Yizhar checkpoints.
14:27 Huwwara checkpoint -
The confinement area is empty. Three lanes open for males, who remove their belts and shoes that have metal in them. They present IDs to be checked as well as any items they're carrying. There isn't any x-ray machine on site so the checking takes longer. The covered area is full of people waiting, most of them students going home for the weekend. There's a separate, relatively faster line for women, children and older men off to one side. The checkpoint commander, P., T. from the DCO. According to the representatives of the ecumenical church (who are located on the other side of the checkpoint), eleven vehicles are on line coming from Nablus. At the vehicle entry point to Nablus there's a line only occasionally, and then very briefly.
14:45 The woman from Za'tara who had been detained tells Daphna that she's been allowed to continue. Later we hear (from the police) about someone else who's been detained, also because he has a temporary permit until he receives the longed-for ID card.
15:25 Beit Furik CP-
Little traffic. We enter and move toward the place we usually stood before the "white line" was introduced. The checkpoint commander closes the checkpoint. His soldiers put spiked barriers in both vehicle lanes. When we return to the white line he opens the checkpoint.
Representatives of the ecumenical church report that two young men were confined at Huwwara because they tried to bypass the checkpoint.
15:45 - Another detainee - he went through the line off to one side and helped a woman, but (according to the checkpoint commander) tried to use this in order to go through the "express" lane.
16:15 Awarta - no line.
16:24 Huwwara checkpoint (on our return from Beit Furik).
M., the representative of the ecumenical church, reports that detainees asked for water, were given some foul liquid, started to drink and spat it out. She asked the DCO representative for permission to bring water by herself, received permission, bought a bottle of water and brought it to them.
17:35 Za'tara -
40 vehicles waiting from the north, two lanes open. We asked U. at the center, to open another lane. He said he'd look into it.
Three vehicles coming from the west are waiting to be checked.
17:42 Zeita - closed; Marda gate is open.
17:42 Dafna calls one of the detainees; all three were released (at 17:33)
17:50 On the right, an army tent, soldiers inside.
17:55 Shomron gate -
A detainee. Caught in Israel without an entry permit. Detained since 10:00 at the police station and brought here 30 minutes ago. He'll get his ID card at the Azzun Atama checkpoint. He rides there with us, but not before a patrol car arrives with four more detainees who are ordered to get to the Azzun Atama checkpoint on foot in order to retrieve their ID cards.
Cf. the report on Azzun Atma from 15.5.08, written by Dafna B.
Translation: Suzanne O.
A particularly difficult day, there are a lot of roadblocks all the way from Shomron roadblock at the entrance to the West Bank up to Huwwara and Beit Furiq together with impossible behaviour on the part of the soldiers at Beit Furiq roadblock.
The frustration and our inability to change things make us despair.
There is a police roadblock at the entrance to the Western Bank with the policemen just glancing at those entering and there are another three of these roadblocks within a kilometre.
At the entrance to Ariel, just like every day, the police direct the traffic, the entrance to Marda is open, the entrance to Zeita is closed by a barrier.
Za'atra (Tapuach) Junction
From the west it was already clear that there are problems, about 27 cars wait in a convoy, there is only one checkpoint, from time to time a vehicle is sent to the car park for a more thorough inspection.
A transit van is being inspected, there is a suitcase in the road and the dog sniffs inside it, it is closed, the passengers' documents are returned to them and they drive on.
An additional taxi approaches for inspection and the same process is repeated.
We go across the roundabout and stop at a jam the like of which we have not seen during the four years we have been doing this route.
There are hundreds of cars from Nablus, and the queue is so long that it also blocks the road to Nablus.
We waited 20 minutes and, suddenly, an order comes from we know not where and the roadblock is opened and tens of cars cross without any inspection at all. When we ask what happened the answer is because of traffic jams.
When we left some 70 cars were still queuing to cross because, after the jam was freed up, another order was received and they returned to inspecting each car.
On the way to Za'atra Junction the road is experiencing heavy traffic, there is a roadblock at Yitzhar Junction and about 17 cars which have just crossed at Huwwara now queue here for another inspection. We decided to drive directly to Beit Furiq, a glance at the Huwwara roadblock shows that it is relatively quiet there.
Beit Furiq roadblock
Obtuseness and wickedness: this is the way the roadblock is run today.
We get out of the vehicle next to a queue of vehicles which we can't see the end of. The drivers are furious and report that they have been waiting since 6:00 a.m. Lorries full of cheese, chicks, eggs, a doctor, a taxi with an ill person and the cars are inspected one at a time. The soldiers take a break from time to time. There is only one checkpoint for cars entering and leaving. When we ask why another checkpoint is not opened there is no reaction.
We contacted the DCO, they told us that they are aware of the situation, there are problems throughout the area and, starting from Sunday, we have to contact Zaharan, he is our point of contact at the DCO.
We contacted Chana who, it turns out, is aware of the situation and has dealt with it without success but promises to try again. Meanwhile the soldiers stop inspecting and stand chatting among themselves, the fuming drivers approach the roadblock with a number of cars and at this the soldiers start to direct the traffic: they send the drivers away, empty the road and meanwhile not one vehicle crosses.
We tried to contact the brigade and, although we were told off for doing so, we were promised that they would look into why the soldiers had stopped the vehicles crossing, we were told that there are orders to carry out thorough inspections and they are aware of the problems in the area.
This contact did not help either and after the soldiers started to inspect vehicles again we left the roadblock frustrated.
There were very few pedestrians crossing and they did so quickly.
The car park is packed and the market is busy. When we ask the drivers how things are going today they reply that today is a good day.
Indeed the roadblock is relaxed the commander, R., comes over to us ‘women' asking how we are, about 20 people queue to cross in the usual procedure but fast and relaxed. This is also true for the cars from both directions.
We left meaning to return to Za'atra to find out what is going on there.
By the roundabout there are 150 women cyclists from various countries in the world, particularly for the Middle Eastern countries (there were no Israelis among them) but large groups of Lebanese, and they are on their way to Nablus. Although they formed a small traffic jam it moved on quickly.
The roadblock is still functioning.
The picture is completely different, there are about 30 cars waiting to cross from the direction of Nablus and the inspection is speedy. There is not one car from the west.
Translation: Suzanne O.
It is the Jewish Day of Independence - the Braslav sect is here, settlers from Chomesh are here and the town of Nablus is under siege.
6:12 a.m. At Sha'ar Shomron there is a tightly closed roadblock in the direction of the territories but there are no cars. At the entrance to Ariel, there is no traffic at all and there are no civilian police.
The entrance to Zeita is open, at the entrance to Marda the iron barrier is also closed.
There are very few cars. The soldiers are air force reservists; they are not particularly polite. They do not explain to us why there are so few cars at the junction. The menorah position is staffed.
We cut short our stay in order to see what is going on at Huwwara in the light of the information about the closure of Beit Iba because the settlers have returned to Chomesh.
Borin/Yitzhar roadblock is not staffed although a number of metres past the junction there is a spiked roadblock.
The soldiers glance into each car and wave it through.
There is no soldier at the settlers' hitchhiking station.
Very few pedestrians are waiting to leave the town but there is no crossing at all for cars.
A., the roadblock commander, explains that a group from the Braslav sect came back to Nablus during the night to pray at ‘Joseph's Tomb'. They are still there, armed and in two cars. The army wants to prevent them from breaking through the roadblock and getting away, for this reason no cars at all are permitted to leave the town.
Cars are permitted to enter the town with no difficulty.
The DCO representative arrives; he is updated and promises us to deal quickly with matters.
Meanwhile the queue by the turnstiles grows, it appears that they are drivers fed up with trying to cross by vehicle. Some are sent to Mishkefet.
There are no detainees or prisoners. The market starts to wake up.
A bit before the junction there is an army vehicle and a spikes. Here too the army lie in ambush for the Braslav. An iron barrier blocks the exit from the town and a long line of lorries waits for the end of the Braslav incident. The ‘cafe' is still empty.
As usual a long queue (16) await a wave. On the other hand, here vehicles are permitted to leave. (I don't even ask why - what do I understand about security?) Pedestrians cross without any hold ups.
Down the road leading to Beit Dejan we see a civilian car and two military vehicles beside it. We went over. The white car has been abandoned; it has no number plates and has settlers' stickers on it. According to the soldiers the Bratslav people left it, and they are waiting for them to come back to it. According to the soldiers the Bratslav people are being pursued in the area.
On the way to Huwwara we see that the spikes have been removed and lorries are starting to leave Awarta. At Huwwara too cars are starting to cross. According to the officer the Braslav people are still in the area, apparently in the vicinity of Ein Bidan, however, an order from on high has been received to open the roadblock.
The DCO representative updates us saying that in spite of previous announcements the roadblock at Beit Iba is still open but appears to be about to close.
Since the morning shift there was cancelled we decided to go and see what is going on.
The spikes ahead of Borin are still spread out and holding up each car.
The Borin and Yitzhar roadblocks are empty.
We went up to see if the removal of roadblocks had reached Sara village - of course it hadn't, a wall of earth still blocks the entrance to the village.
The preparations for Chomesh start at Jit Junction. Palestinians are not allowed to turn right. We tried to interview the ginger haired soldier at the junction but he was rude and refused to explain (on our way back he also called us whores).
Only residents are allowed into Shavei Shomron.
We are barred at the entrance to Beit Iba. Palestinians are permitted to continue on. The soldiers explain that the roadblock closed at 8 o'clock. Since then there have been no security forces there, therefore, we are not permitted to enter. A number of Palestinian vehicles are parked by the improvised roadblock in the hope that maybe the soldiers will agree to them crossing on to the main road. We turn to leave and the road fills up with forces from the army and the police. The soldiers have lists with licence numbers of vehicles permitted to go north.
At the side of the road: a car with yellow number plates and within an American journalist waiting for transport to the event. He was most surprised to hear that MachsomWatch members still support the removal of roadblocks and that we are not certain that the roadblock is the right answer to terrorist actions...
We stopped at an inn to buy hot pitta (after all it is the barbeque holiday) and joined the stream of blue and white flags on the roads of Israel.
Translation: Suzzane O.
There are 6 cars from the west. At the northern roadblock there are two inspection lanes. A coach carrying older women is parked. A soldier inspects the driver's documents and permits the vehicle to continue on its way. 17 cars are in the queue at the roadblock.
There is no roadblock.
There are 15 vehicles in the queue. A driver tells us that he has been waiting for half an hour. Another driver claims angrily that he has been waiting for an hour already.
The turnstiles are empty. While we were at the roadblock only a few pedestrians arrived. The guest crossed the virtual line and was ordered to get away from the roadblock by the commander.
There are no lorries.
There is quite heavy traffic of those entering Nablus, very few people at the turnstiles. T., the DCO officer, explains it's because of the exams taking place today in Najach.
We discover that there is a young man in the lock-up cell. I approach and see the roadblock commander talking to him. He demands that I leave, of course explaining that it is for my own security. On the other hand he promises that the young man will shortly be released, and indeed a few minutes later the man is released, but gets on his bicycle and returns to Nablus.
The dog handler is present with her dog. It appears that the inspection of vehicles leaving Nablus is very thorough.
2 checkpoints are functioning.
A military policewoman shouts at the person she is checking, it is not clear why, but she quietens down immediately.
There are 30 - 40 people at the turnstiles.
A young man is put into the cell. According to T., he is ‘bingo'.
There are in the region of 12 vehicles at the roadblock.
Translation: Tal H.
14:24 - Marda village gate open, Zeita village gate blocked.
14:29 - Za'tara/Tapuach Junction CP - 4 cars waiting, coming from the west,
2 active checking posts for vehicles soutbound from Nablus/Huwwara, 12 cars waiting. One of the securing soldiers points his gun directly at the cars. See photograph on our website.
The checks are swift.
14:37 - no more waiting cars.
14:45 - only one active checking post, pressure of waiting cars begins to build up. Two Palestinians arriving at the CP are arrogantly turned away and forbidden to stand near the northbound hitchhikers' station. A Jewish settler (i.e. colonist) approaches us and threatens to break our camera. Says we have to clear for the area for this is a closed military area, swears at us, calls his friends to join him. The Checkpoint commander and another soldier approach them and prevent them from approaching us, calmly and assertively.
14:52 - the Yitzhar-Burin-Huwwara Road CPs are unmanned.
15:04 - Huwwara CP -
nearly empty of pedestrians/students for today is holiday, May Day.
Two active checking posts, swift passage of pedestrians in the
young men's line as well as the special side line for women,
children and elderly. No pressure in the vehicle lanes entering
and exiting Nablus.
We thought this would be an "easy" shift today.
From the vehicle lane entering Nablus singing
voices are heard. Two vans arrive
transporting a family, mostly little children,
who meant to take part in the Hinneh celebrations for
a wedding of a young man from Hebron and his Beit Furik bride.
At the checking post, a soldier and the DCO representative: the cars are not permitted to enter Nablus and are forced to turn back to Hebron for lack of special permits.
The situation looks dim when we approach to try and look into things.
Dafna calls Naomi L. to try and change the ruling, and miraculously A., DCO rep. intervenes, too - he has also been trying to obtain entry permits, and they are permitted to proceed and even enter Beit Furik village. We thank the DCO man for his success and rush over to Beit Furik Checkpoint to make sure they are allowed passage (photos of the bridegroom and family will be sent separately).
In other words: when they asked to be let through to go to Beir Furik, the DCO was the one who told them to turn around and get back to Hebron, no wedding today.
Had we not intervened, presumably the family would not have been allowed to proceed, all this at the "mercy" of the DCO representative. It was only our intervention that drove him to act.
15:55 - Beit Furik Checkpoint -
just as we arrived, when we were still on the "Madison Road" before the turnoff to the checkpoint, we saw the two familiar vans turning from the Checkpoint towards the village, so they managed to get through here, too. They recognize us from afar, honk, wave their greetings and proceed to their celebration. Congratulations.
We find two detainees at the checkpoint. Dafna approaches to find out more details, and the checkpoint commander orders her away, says he will come to speak to us near "our" white line. He claims the reason for the detention is that "they were where they are not supposed to be", and he detained them with his superior's knowledge and approval. He says they had been detained half an hour ago, and will be held for another half-hour to an hour.
16:18 - Awarta checkpoint -
No pressure at all. The guard says that ever since the checkpoint north of Nablus was opened, less vehicles arrive here.
16:23 - back to Beit Furik Checkpoint - the detainees have been released.
4 vehicles wait to be checked before exiting Nablus, one vehicle entering from Beit Furik.
For a moment there we thought we might be able to say
that today the checkpoint was a relatively easy,
swift affair, and here - a driver passed without the soldier
having moved his finger to signal him to do so,
and is turned back and only after being properly signaled,
could indeed proceed. All this while the checkpoint
was empty of others, the rest of the soldiers with their backs to the checking post, and doing nothing. Earlier a passenger was made to disembark using his walking cane - in order to cross the checkpoint on foot.
At the taxi park a driver told us that last time he came to get his work permit renewed it was withheld. We gave him Sylvia's number.
We were told that for the last two days morning waitinlines have been unusually long and slow for vehicles entering Nablus.
17:20 - Huwwara, very few people at the checkpoint.
18:00 - Yitzhar-Burin CPs unmanned.
18:02 - Huwwara village - army jeep, lights flashing, parks parallel to the road.
18:38 - Za'tara/Tapuach Junction CP - no waiting cars southbound, 2 waiting cars coming from the west.
18:41 - a short distance after the Za'tara checkpoint, on the right side of the road, two hummers stand parallel to the road, lights flashing.
18:43 - Zeita entrance sealed, Marda - open.
Tranlation: Suzanne O.
It is the May Day holiday in the Palestinian Authority.
The roadblock is functioning. There were relatively many soldiers. Half a kilometre later there was another small roadblock - a police car at the side of the road. We did not see it stop any cars.
Past the Barkan industrial estate a police car is parked at a small junction.
On the left we see the road works as a road is laid between Ariel and Shomron Gate.
The entrance to Marda is open but concrete blocks bar the one to Zeita, as usual.
There are about 15 cars in the queue from the direction of Huwwara. The unit at the roadblock is made up of reservists; the commander tells us that there are no limitations. A taxi in the car park is being given a sniffer dog search. The passengers are from Jenin. The inspection is completed relatively quickly. Two lanes are open. The soldiers stop a car with four passengers which has come from Huwwara. The dog checks the car and the soldier asks the passengers to sit on the pavement during the inspection. At the same time a coach with women and children arrives and it too is sent to be inspected; after about three minutes it continues on its way.
At the Menorah roundabout across the road a lone soldier stands behind a concrete block observing.
The crossing is open.
There is a soldier at the bus stop in front of the roundabout. The car park is almost completely empty. There are no detainees and almost no pedestrians. From the direction of Nablus there is a queue of about 12 people. Nahal soldiers are serving at the roadblock. Meanwhile the car park fills up a little.
The roadblock is empty. One back-to-back is loading in the car park.
There are about 17 cars in the queue; one of the drivers tells us that he has been waiting an hour already. All of the drivers we spoke to told us that today is a ‘bad day' at the roadblock. Only one lane is open for both directions.
There is a group of boys on holiday wanting to go to Nablus but they are not allowed to cross without their parents. They are on their way to Ramallah and a coach is waiting for them on the other side of the roadblock. They stand by the turnstiles waiting for permission from the DCO. A doctor who is crossing takes two boys across with him. He comes back and tries to take another two across but without success.
A coach with children and their mothers, all from Beit Furiq, has been waiting for about 20 minutes at the roadblock. The soldiers refused to let them cross and now they await permission from the DCO. Rachel contacts the DCO and was told that they know nothing about it. Meanwhile all the passengers on the coach are waiting. The driver asserts that he has a permit for the coach and all the passengers have permits, he does not understand why they are not allowed to cross. The soldiers on their part claim that coaches need special coordination and this has not been done.
The coach gets a permit and crosses having waiting for an hour and twenty minutes at the roadblock.
The older boys from the group, who have permits, are permitted to cross. The younger ones debate whether to go home to Beit Furiq or continue to wait.
The rest of the children cross too.
The car park is full. We just drive by without stopping.
There are 52 cars from the direction of Huwwara in the queue.
Marda and Zeita: the situation is as it was when we drove past this morning.