Translator: Charles K.
Summer has come to the West Bankvillages as well. School children are on vacation and life begins later.
06:25 Azzun Atma: “The checkpoint is good today,” say the Palestinians. The armored corps soldiers have gotten used to the checkpoint routine. Both computers are working and traffic flows. About twenty laborers waiting on a line that’s run efficiently.
Shomron crossing: No police at the exit from Israel.
06:50 Za’tara/Tapuach: The positions aren’t manned.
Yitzhar/Burin checkpoint: No military activity.
Awarta: The yellow bar is locked, blocking the crossing.
07:20 Beit Furik: No soldiers; traffic flows. We didn’t see a soldier in the tower.
08:40 Huwwara: We saw no soldiers at the checkpoint. Cars with yellow license plates drive into town.
At the road up to Beracha settlement– a soldier. A second soldier hangs around with the settlers at the hitchhiking station across the road.
Burin/Yitzhar: No military activity
08:00 Za’tara/Tapuach: Some soldiers around, but not at the positions near the road. Traffic flows in a convoy at the speed of the slowest vehicle on the road up to Huwwara.
Shomron crossing;A superficial inspection
Translator: Charles K.
07:00 Azzun Atma. About 40 people left at the exit from the village. The gate is open for women so they don’t have to crowd in with the men. Laborers leaving said it was a “good checkpoint.”
07:15 The agricultural gate is open, a few people next to it waiting for a contractor.
07:20 Shomron crossing. No police at the entrance to the territories. Long lines of vehicles waiting to enter Israel.
07:35 Marda and Zeita. The entrances aren’t blocked.
07:40 Za’tara junction. The checkpoint isn’t manned.
07:45 Burin/Yitzhar junction. It isn’t blocked.
07:50 Huwwara. The checkpoint isn’t manned. A soldier observes from the tower, as does another at the statue of the bird at the plaza. A soldier stands at the hitchhiking station to Bracha.
08:35 The entrance to the villageof Sara is open. The road through Sara to Nablusisn’t blocked either.
09:00 Eliyahu crossing. We were stopped for a careful inspection of our documents because they didn’t understand our connection with Nadim. After a five-minute delay the curiosity of the security people was satisfied and they let us cross.
Yesterday we received a message from the Hars club that they wouldn’t meet today because they have another activity. That worried us, and we went to the village to see what was happening.
It turned out that there was an activity today in Nablus for the entire Salfit area. At the entrance to the club a large sign announced that our activity had been postponed until next week. We felt better…
Before continuing our route we visited the home of the girl with Down syndrome (they invited us two weeks ago to see what she’d made from the netting we’d brought her). She’d created lovely pieces, very imaginative, with her mother’s help.
We continued via the villages on the road to Huwwara. There were no unusual incidents. From time to time we saw students studying for final exams.
There was no checkpoint at Huwwara.
In Burin we visited the home of the youth who’d been arrested, spoke with his mother, who told us the trial will be June 17. They still haven’t been allowed to see him, and he’s not permitted to buy anything from the canteen. The mother is a beautiful woman – her suffering and anxiety aren’t visible on her face. You can imagine what she’s going through; all we could say was that we’re on her side.
There were no checkpoints or dogs today at Za’tara/
Translator: Hanna K.
A momentary joy – the yellow arm at Awarta is open. But not to worry, tomorrow it will be shut again
06:40 Azzun Atma: a not very long queue progresses quickly. A few soldiers and military policemen check the outgoing people meticulously. There is an innovation at the CP – a table for the checking the food bags and the tools which the workmen carry with them. The soldiers are new on the spot. They refuse to talk to us.
Near the agricultural gate we again see a large group of people waiting. It seems that they are not "infiltrators" but have been checked at the agricultural gate and prefer to wait at this point for the transportation supplied by the contractors. It seems that the passage through this gate is easier.
Shomron crossing: There is no police at the departure from Israel. Heavy appliances are working, they seem to be expanding and improving the passage.
07:10 Za'tara/Tapuah: The posts aren't manned.
Burin/Yitzhar CP: There is no military activity.
07:20 Awarta: The key was found and the yellow arm is open. Cars from the direction of Awarta pass through to Nablus. We read in the reports that yesterday, following the riot at Huwwara, they directed the traffic to Awarta, and probably "forgot" to shut the gate when the central axis was opened. Later we phoned the DCO and there they made it clear that the gate is going to be shut "as it has become unnecessary and it is possible to drive through Huwwara". This is all true, but if there is a road why close it? I am still waiting for the answer of the spokeswoman of the Central Command, to which I have referred the question already in March 2011 ("we are working on it").
07:45 Beit Furik: There are no soldiers and the traffic flows also from the direction of Beit Dajan on the Madison axis. We didn't see any soldier on the tower.
08:00 Huwwara: We didn't see any soldiers around the CP, neither on the top of the tower.
On the way up to Bracha settlement – there is a soldiers. According to him he is there to guard the civilians as it is dangerous there.
Burin/Yitzhar – there is no military activity.
08:40 Za'tara/Tapuah: There are a few border policemen at the CP post. They check ID cards haphazardly. The queue becomes short or long alternately. At the parking lot there are two cars whose owners wait to get their ID cards back after a thorough check.
At the Shomron crossing there is a lively traffic.
Translator: Charles K.
The occupation routine; it seems Tapuach junction is again operating normally.
06:10 Azzun Atma
A long line – 120-130 people, we estimate – and more keep arriving. Crossing goes quickly, considering there are only two booths for document inspection and another person, outside, inspecting belongings. But that doesn’t really help people who have to wait on line every day, in the cold and the heat. They still have to wait in line an hour or more, arriving early in order to insure they’ll cross in time to get to work. And if they go through relatively quickly they then have to wait outside, but at least seated beside small fires to keep warm (mornings are still chilly). To think about people who live far away (in Bethlehem, for example) and come here via a roundabout route, and then be exposed to all the terrible harassment - but at least they have jobs, which isn’t true for many others.
At one stage they allowed many people through the revolving gate at once, which made the line advance quickly. Those standing farther back began running forward madly, pushing, and pressing against the fence bordering the line, which was in danger of collapse. The soldiers panicked, began shouting, delayed the line, but things quieted down pretty quickly and inspections continued.
A boy on his way to school – the contents of his satchel are inspected – but he’s going to the West Bank, not entering Israel, so why do we care what’s in his satchel?
06:40 The line gets shorter, fewer people join, and since the fence was moved aside earlier by the people pushing against it there’s now more room and the line is wider and shorter. A man we timed took 40 minutes to go through. Towards 07:00 a man we timed took 17 minutes.
Women enter Israel through the vehicle gate, with no line.
We continue. There are police at the Shomron Gate entrance to the West Bank on Highway 5, and a plastic barrier that forces drivers to slow down, but we’re not stopped.
We drove toward Huwwara via Hars, Kifl Hars, Qira and Einabus. Many children on the road going to school, the villages are full of people, many groceries are open and we wonder how the owners of so many groceries can make a living in such small villages.
Burin junction. Huwwara is open; there were no soldiers, nor when we returned.
Huwwara. No soldiers at the checkpoint (maybe they were in the pillbox, but we saw nothing).
09:30 Za’tara junction. Tapuach
No soldiers at the junction at the moment but two cars are in the parking lot at the junction. One immediately drives away, the second is being inspected by dogs. The trunk was emptied, a wheelchair and other belongings lie on the ground, including a large paper envelope. A woman sits in the car –apparently it’s her wheelchair. The dog inspects all the belongings; then the female soldier asks to see what’s in the envelope – x-rays. A few minutes later a Border Police soldier arrives who behaves as if he’s in charge. He also wants to inspect the contents of the envelope, and the x-rays come out again – that’s certainly important, since the soldier is undoubtedly an x-ray specialist in addition to his military skills. And maybe he thinks that the envelope is just right for smuggling weapons. After further discussion with one of passengers they’re released, pack up their belongings and drive away.
Now the two Border Police soldiers return to the junction and send two more cars for inspection. One, full of cartons, is inspected by a dog and released five minutes later. The second car is a taxi. Its passenger have to get out and are sent to stand to the side – “far” from the vehicle. They have to come back and remove all their belongings from their car, and then the dog goes into action. He checks the car and then the belongings, and doesn’t want to come out before receiving a treat. At the same time, the soldier checks documents – apparently speaks to someone on the phone and ten minutes later the taxi is released with its passengers. We should note that the packages removed by the passengers were replaced by the dog handlers.
Now the soldiers close the gate to the junction and take a break.
06:15 'Azzun 'Atma
Not many people outside; about 50 people in line. Two inspection booths, 35 people go through in ten minutes. A man told us that every few days he’s pulled over to the side for inspection or to check his documents, and sometimes he’s not allowed to cross. He lives in Bethlehem; when he goes to the Gush Etzion facility and tries to find out the reason, they tell him his documents are in order, but he still gets stuck here sometimes (maybe he’s just getting caught in the bureaucracy?).
06:33 Tamar gate
The gate is open, about 40 people and agricultural equipment wait. They say they’re employed here in agriculture. Donkey carts and a pickup truck also come through. By 06:48 they all crossed and the soldiers closed the gate even though it’s supposed to remain open until 07:00. One soldier stood off to the side praying with tefillin during the entire time the gate was open.
At 06:50 someone arrived, saw the gate was closed and turned back. The soldiers say they’re supposed to close the gate at 06:45, which is why they shut it (that’s not what ‘s written on the schedule at the DCO). They also said that had they seen him they would have opened the gate, but by the time we called it to their attention he was already in the orchard out of sight.
The children’s bus arrives; another that had been waiting now goes through. The large, closed gate on the Israeli side opens for each car. A female MP officer is in charge here, as at 'Azzun 'Atma. The pedestrian gate is open. The driver of the children’s bus asks to open the gate; the soldiers tell him to do so himself. Soon he’ll inspect his own documents…. The soldiers close the gate after him.
There’s been some improvement in efficiency here, since each group of five can wait right next to the revolving gate to enter for inspection, but the inspection itself is slow, and during 20 minutes only 30 people went through. The soldiers say there’s only one computer, with a keyboard that’s not easy to use, which slows down data entry and checking. More than 20 people still wait to cross.
07:50 Eliyahu crossing
Very few people waiting on the pedestrian line; about 5 cars being inspected, most of them with Israeli license plates. No pedestrians were on line when we left.
Soldiers at one lane stop a car. A line of cars immediately forms behind it, and then some of them are directed to another lane.
The car being inspected goes through ten minutes later.
08:43 A taxi is stopped for inspection, and then another, and a line forms again. The second is released a few minutes later and the line disappears. Then an additional taxi is stopped for inspection. Not every taxi is stopped, only a spot check is carried out. The two taxis were released after 8 minutes. Five soldiers from the crossing came toward us to say we’re not allowed to be here (we were standing slightly south of the pillbox). We explained we’re still in Area B, and if that’s forbidden we want to see the order signed by a general [TzavAluf]. They didn’t know what that is, but said there’s a sign at the junction stating it’s Area A and Israelis are forbidden entry. We told them that the sign says “This road leads to Area A where Israelis are forbidden to enter,” not that Area A begins here, so we’re allowed to stand on this side of the pillbox and see what’s happening. They argued a little more, gave up and began making phone calls that led nowhere.
09:00 Beit Furik
Everything’s open; no soldiers at the checkpoint.
There were no soldiers both times we went through, on the way to Huwwara and coming back.
09:20 Tapuach junction
Soldiers stand at the guard post but not at the crossing itself.
Translation: Suzanne O.
And this time, for a change, some good news.
Because of Independence Day the gate is closed and locked. No one enters and no one leaves and there isn't even one soldier to guard the locked gate. The wire mesh gate leading to the agricultural gate is also locked.
There is no police presence at the exit from Israel. There is very little traffic from the territories into Israel.
We didn't see any soldiers in the check points. There is one soldier in the tower looking out over the junction. There is heavy Palestinian traffic in the direction of Ramallah and not even one Israeli car.
There is no military activity.
And now for the good news– It turns out that a month ago the ban on Palestinian cars using the part of Madison Way between Beit Furik and Beit Dejan was lifted. We asked the DCO when the ban on using the part between Beit Furik and Awarta would be lifted (this passes by Itamar) and according to him it is a matter of security…
In Beit Furik we talked with locals about working the agricultural areas close to Itamar. We were told that a while ago the army gave them a few days to plough the land with a military escort, and many people took advantage of the offer. However, our friend said that his family has an olive grove on the hillside adjacent to Itamar and it has been 10 years since they have been able to approach it because of fear for their lives. According to him families have sneaked in to harvest their olives under cover of darkness but he, fearing for his life, did not because he was unable to ensure his security with either the army or with 'Rabbis for Justice'.
The yellow barrier still prevents crossings. Large signs in Hebrew point the way to improvised car parks. It appears that, starting from 9 a.m., there will be a reception in the area, in honour of Independence Day, for the Huwwara brigade and they expect many guests.
Because of the event most of the vehicles moving around the area are military ones. We saw a group of soldiers near Beit Furik who were not staffing the roadblock but were there 'for security reasons'.
There are many soldiers at the Huwwara roadblock too. They are getting ready by the deserted car park. There are already soldiers at the post by the entrance to Nablus. They do not stop the traffic but the drivers, seeing them, slow down expecting a hand signal. In no time a queue builds up which brings memories of times forgotten.
On the way up to Bracha a soldier guards the many hitchhikers.
There is a military vehicle in the bay.
There is a Border Police vehicle awaiting developments.
There are a number of Border Police soldiers who do not impede the traffic. Large signs invite the public to the brigade open day. (We decided that we would rather go home.)
At the Shomron Crossing there is almost no traffic.
Chotzei Shomronroad has been occupied by cyclists.
As usual the Jewish holidays brings closure for the Palestinians. The workers do not go to their jobs.
6.30 Azzun Atma. Because of the holiday and closure there are hardly any workers. A few Palestinians do go through though. Some say there is no closure and others say that there is. The military policeman says that those who have permanent work permits can go through but most of the employers are busy with the holiday. It is not clear. The cheeky soldier who is guarding on the empty post on his own will not speak to us. According to him we are worse than the Arabs. Very soon we understand that he lives on a settlement, Ma’aleh Zeitiem which is near Ras al Amud, a neighborhood in Jerusalem. We turned our backs on him and went on our way.
Shomron Crossing. No police at the exit from Israel.
7.00 Za’tara/Tapuach. A group of border police are joking together at the checking post but do not interfere with the traffic which is passing by.
Burin/Yitzhar. No army activity.
7.30 Beit Furik. There are no soldiers at the permanent checkpoint and no rolling checkpoint. In the village itself the new palaces compete with one another as they climb the hill. There is much traffic from Nablus.
Awarta. The yellow bar stops any passage.
Huwwara. 7.45 There are no military vehicles in the area and we did not see a light in the tower. At the ascent to Bracha settlement a soldier is at a post next to the road. We asked why all the lights were on in the deserted parking lot and in the deserted checking area. He of course did not know and said that he would ask the master sergeant but he will probably not get an answer. [Maybe it is not a lot of money but it is still a waste of taxes and energy.]
At the post opposite the hitching post is a soldier.
Burin/Yizhar. Still no activity.
7.40 Za’tara/ Tapuach. The border police have left and only many posters of the settlers are left at the checkpoint.
Shomron Crossing. A sketchy check as usual.
And all the way of course the spring is in full swing. There are hardly an flowers but it is still very green. The olive groves had been cultivated and the illusion of normality raises thoughts of dwindling and fading possibilities.
כרגיל חג ליהודים וסגר לפלסטינים. הפועלים מושבתים מעבודה
06:30 עזון עתמא: לרגל החג והסגר כמעט אין בכלל פועלים. מעט פלסטינים בכל זאת עוברים. המידע לא ברור, חלק אומרים שאין סגר וחלק שיש. המ"צ אומרות שבעלי אישורי עבודה קבועים רשאים לעבור לקו התפר אך רוב המעסיקים עסוקים בהכנות לחג. החייל החצוף השומר לבדו על המתקן הריק אינו מוכן לדבר אתנו. לדבריו אנחנו גרועות מהערבים. עד מהרה מסתבר לנו שהוא חי בהתנחלות מעלה הזיתים הסמוכה לראס אל עמוד. הפננו לו עורף והמשכנו בדרכנו.
מעבר שומרון : אין משטרה ביציאה מישראל.
07:00 זעתרה/תפוח: קבוצה של חיילי משמר הגבול מתבדחים בעמדות הבידוק אך אינם מפריעים לתנועה הזורמת.
מחסומי יצהר/בורין: אין פעילות צבאית.
07:30 בית פוריכ: אין חיילים במחסום הקבע ואין מחסום פתע. בכפר עצמו הארמונות החדשים מתחרים זה בזה בטיפוס על צלע הגבעה. תנועה ערה בדרך לשכם.
עוורתא: הזרוע הצהובה עדיין מונעת מעבר.
07:45 חווארה: אין רכבים צבאיים באיזור ולא ראינו אור במגדל. בעלייה לברכה חייל בעמדה שליד הכביש. שאלנו אותו מדוע דולקים כל האורות במגרש החנייה הנטוש ובמתחם הבידוק השומם. הוא כמובן לא יודע ואמר שגם אם ישאל את הרס"ר בוודאי לא יקבל תשובה. זה אולי לא הרבה כסף אבל חבל על כספי המיסים והאנרגיה.
בעמדה שמול הטרמפיאדה חייל.
בורין /יצהר: עדין אין פעילות.
07:40 זעתרה/תפוח: המג"בניקים עזבו ורק שלל כרזות המתנחלים נותרו בצומת.
במעבר שומרון בדיקה שטחית כרגיל.
וכל הדרך כמובן האביב מורגש במלוא עוזו. פרחים כבר כמעט ואין אך הירוק רענן מתמיד, מטעי הזיתים מקולטרים ואשליית הנורמליות מעלה מחשבות על האפשרויות ההולכות ונמוגות.
How nice, the rain has come back and most of the CPs there aren't any soldiers.
06:20: Azzun Atma: The sparse rain doesn't hinder the soldiers from slowly checking the many workmen who crowd in the queue. According to them when the rain increases the Palestinians find shelter in the concrete shed on the side and run one by one to be checked.
The Samaria crossing: There is no police at the exit from Israel.
06:45 Za'tra/Tapuah: There are no soldiers at the checking points.
The Yitzhar/Burin CPs: A military vehicle parks in the inlet on the main road.
07:20 Beit Furik: There are no soldiers at the permanent CP and there is no flying CP.
Awarta: The yellow arm still prevents the passage.
07:25 Huwwara: There are no military vehicles in the area and we didn't see light in the tower. At the slope up to the pool there is a soldier at the post next to the road.
In the post opposite the hitch-hike station there is a soldier.
Burin/Yitzhar: Now there is also a military vehicle in the inlet from the direction of Yitzhar. The blue police is also present. Is this a warning concerning the settlers?
07:40 Za'tara/Tapuah: Still not manned.
At the Samaria crossing: the checking is done superficially as usual.
The rain accompanies us home