Translation: Suzanne O.
There is almost nothing new at the roadblocks.
A great number of labourers await transport from their employers.
In the mesh sleeve there is quite a short queue. Upon our arrival the sergeant sends a Palestinian young man back to the end of the queue. The reason: "We continually tell them not to push and not to lean on the turnstiles which are liable to collapse. See, they have now learned a lesson and stand calmly without pushing".
The soldiers are not In a hurry. According to them the employers have not yet arrived and by the time they come to collect them, the labourers will have crossed the roadblock.
Contrary to past practice, today every labourer with a permit from the Military Police is checked by a metal detector in the computer cube.
The agricultural gate is open.
At Sha'ar Shomron there is no police presence at the entrance and no queue at all at the exit.
The entrances to Marda and Zeita are open.
Traffic is heavy and there are vehicles at the top of the road. There are no soldiers in the position on the menorah roundabout.
A military vehicle is parked at the entrance to Itamar and there is another one opposite Awarta.
The routine 'no roadblock' continues. Traffic flows with no hindrance. We turned 'as if to go into Nablus' and no one took any notice of us.
Peace and quiet: we hardly saw a car. We asked about the cars lurking around Madison Way and, according to the soldiers, there is a rise in the number of stone throwers 'from both directions'.
The soldiers who guarded the entrance to the town were not by the car park today but close to the check point for those leaving town. Therefore there was no one to explain to us immediately that we are not permitted to enter the holy area of the roadblock. As we were nearing it there began an exchange of messages from the lookout tower to the soldiers below and a Military Policeman hurried towards us and asked us to "take to our heels and get out of the roadblock area". He was not prepared to talk to us. When I pointed out our right as a human rights organisation he insisted that we are not a recognised organisation and that we are hindering him in the performance of his job. He, of course, threatened arrest …
We moved back to the yellow barrier and then the second in command of the Kfir Company arrived. He was quite happy to have a conversation. He told us that the olive picking should be completed by the end of the week and that, after the beginning of the season, there had been no particular problems. We asked about the people who come to Joseph's Tomb and he told us that a visit had been arranged for them yesterday. He wanted to know if his soldiers were behaving well.
A military vehicle is parked there and two soldiers observe the road without hindering the traffic.
There is a continuous flow of cars, but from time to time a vehicle is directed to the side of the road or sent to the car park. In the car park there are two dog handlers. According to them they are spread out over the whole area now and so only get to Za'atra infrequently.
In the car park the dog sniffs a commercial vehicle full of groceries for a long time. After this he moves on to sniff a bus which is detained on its way to Ramallah. All the passengers alight from the vehicle and the dog slowly and thoroughly inspects the seats. Only after the dog has completed its search do the soldiers start to check the documents of some of the passengers via the wireless. After 27 minutes the passengers return to the bus. We asked the soldiers why they had not checked documents while the dog was sniffing around the seats and, according to them; it was because of a hold up by those who were checking numbers for them.
According to them they try to make the checks as quick as possible.
Translation: Suzanne O.
We were invited by Munir, our friend from Borin, to help him pick olives in the plots in the village in Area C.
Munir organised four groups of children for days out at the beach during the summer. He also works as a reporter on the ground for 'Yesh Din' in the surrounding villages. Since then we have become firm friends with him and his family.
As we know, the village of Borin has suffered from violent plots during the picking season (and not only then) which are still ongoing; Munir was injured two weeks ago after being beaten up by settlers.
While he was picking in the northern area with 4 family members, in the 300 tree olive grove located beneath the Bracha settlement ('Givat Arusi), 30 settlers came down from the settlement, threw stones and glass and attacked them. It was 10:30 a.m. and they had not yet managed to pick much. The olives which had been picked were stolen. They are still not permitted to pick in the area ('Yesh Din' is dealing with the complaint which was made to the police).
Munir showed us blood curdling photographs which he took during the attack two weeks ago.
Since this attack they have been unable to obtain permits to work there. The army gave them just one day to pick in the areas which are located outside the village houses. (What is considered to be Area B.) All of their approaches to the authorities, etc., to obtain permits to pick there – have been in vain.
Why? Because the area borders the settlements which threaten both sides of the village: Bracha and Yitzhar!
The trees on the periphery of the village have been cut down, burned or stolen. On the southern side (in the direction of Yitzhar) all the olive trees have been burned. The only trees left are those located in the area between the village houses. That is about one third of the total trees in the olive groves.
It should be noted that most of the village residents are unemployed and their only livelihood comes from the olives.
We continued to pick with the family: women, men and children. We spread out the plastic sheets under the trees and this was a good time to talk, to laugh and to have a Palestinian-Felachin meal in the heart of nature. In Tel Aviv the khamsin is oppressive but in the hills of Borin, near Nablus the air is clear and a gentle breeze accompanied our work.
We asked if we could see Ahmed, the sweet child who endeared himself to us at Huwwara roadblock, and while we were remembering him we met him in the street. We invited him to the picking day and he joined in happily and sent regards to all his friends from those days.
The checkpoint is at the crossroads of Route 60 and the road leadint to Huwwara.
The checkpoint is at the crossroads of Route 60 and the road leadint to Huwwara.
Translator: Charles K.
Another normal day at a “good checkpoint.” We see very few people harvesting olives.
There are no police at the entrance to the Shomron gate, and no line at all at the exit.
06:30 Azzun Atma: A line in the fenced corridor, not very long and not very crowded.
A sergeant from headquarters and rescue services, and an MP, maintain order and from time to time open the gate for women and children entering the village. A Palestinian with a blue ID card leaves the village through the gate.
Many laborers waiting for rides.
A person who was inspected, and another who couldn’t be, complain of problems at the DCO; they can’t receive the permits they need [Esti has the details]. The agricultural gate is open.
The entrances to Zeita and to Marda are open.
07:10 Za’tara/Tapuach: No line; traffic flows. The candelabra has disappeared from Candelabra Square. All around, upgraded emplacements covered in camouflage netting. A military vehicle parked in the middle of the plaza.
7:20 Burin/ Yitzhar: Military vehicles parked in the checkpoint area, in the direction of Huwwara and in the direction of Yitzhar. Are they guarding the people picking olives?
07:25 Beit Furik: Back to the “no checkpoint” routine. A soldier peers out at us from up in the tower. Traffic flows with no delays
We knew that the family of our friend from Beit Furiq is picking olives today near Itamar, and we drove into the settlement to see if they were all right. We passed through the metal gate when it opened for a vehicle to go out (after we’d removed the Machsom Watch signs, of course), and drove around the settlement. We saw many olive trees, but no one picking. We left without interference.
07:40 'Awarta: Peaceful and quiet. Few cars go through the checkpoint.
07:45 Huwwara: From a distance we could already see the long line that had formed because of vehicle inspections. When they were over the line disappeared and traffic flowed.
Two soldiers at the checkpoint from the Kfir unit became very agitated at our arrival. They barely allowed us to park in the deserted parking lot. They hurried to call the sergeant, who showed up with a Border Policeman. The latter informed us that we’re in a closed military area, we’re forbidden to be here, asked for our ID cards (it’s the first time since I’ve been at the checkpoint that I’ve agreed to show it), threatened to call the police if we don’t stand far back, behind the position at the entrance, where it’s hard to see anything.
We told the sergeant that they shouldn’t be inspecting cars in the middle of the crossing lane, but rather in the inspection bay, and hurried away.
Burin/Yitzhar checkpoint: The two military vehicles were gone.
From time to time, along the main roads, we see olive pickers on ladders.
Translation: Suzanne O.
After the festivals – the building continues.
The queue is neither particularly long nor crowded within the mesh sleeve. A Military Police soldier has taken control of the roadblock and the soldiers obey his orders. There are two inspectors in the cubes and the inspections are relatively brisk.
From time to time the wide gate is opened to allow pupils or women to enter the village and, after a quite long wait, a Palestinian with a donkey and cart to exit through it.
We didn't see the young coffee sellers between the queuing cars.
We asked the contractors in their cars whether the 'roadblock is good' today. According to them the fact that there is no crowding is not due to the efficiency of the soldiers but because work permits have been taken away from labourers under various pretexts. (As punishment for returning late to the village, etc.)
Have there been increased complaints lately about the work permit policy?
Kfir soldiers have taken over the Huwwara area and have, apparently, been well trained for their new job.
At the west of Shomron there are no police at the entrance and the queue is not long.
The entrances to Marda and Zeita are open.
Only one lane is open and there is a queue of some 40 cars plodding slowly up the hill. On the way back we stopped to ask a soldier to explain the build up and he said it was only the morning rush hour and that it had quickly dispersed.
There are two military vehicles at the roundabout with the Menorah.
A military vehicle arrives at the car park opposite Beita.
A military vehicle is stationed in the roadblock area.
The artillery men are still here and once again the spikes are laid out across the road allowing only one car at a time to pass. The soldiers beckon a car at a time from each direction and inspect the documents of almost every car driver. Today we didn't see anyone opening the boot of their car.
In conversation with the commander he explained that the brigade orders are to lay the spikes out and to make checks at certain times of the day (apparently during the rush hour) Also when there are specific warnings. At other times they inspect less. He is also beginning to recognise those who cross regularly.
We asked about the followers of Joseph's Tomb and, according to him, he has not yet seen them nor has he had any guidance regarding them. He will be getting a surprise tonight as it is their custom to pray there at new moon.
There are Kfir soldiers wearing their mottled berets. The traffic is not heavy and the ID's inspections do not cause a queue to build up.
We asked about the driving policy on Madison Way during the picking season which is due to start. According to them the orders are to permit the farmers to drive to their groves on the road but only when it has been arranged in advance and they are accompanied by the DCO.
Very few soldiers are to be seen in the area. Two from the Kfir Brigade are in the position from which they verify that Israelis without permits do not enter the town, two Border Policemen are in the positions opposite and a sergeant moves around between them.
The traffic is heavy and flows almost without hindrance. From time to time (randomly) a Border Policeman sends a car to wait at the side while he inspects the papers of the passengers on his computer. As we said, this does not hinder the traffic from continuing to flow.
The sergeant scrutinises and says that the main body of their work now is to wait for warnings from on high, and then they inspect more thoroughly. The yellow iron barrier also waits for the moment it can be used to lock the crossings.
Two soldiers chat to each other by the side of a vehicle but do not arrest the man. Maybe it is preparation for guarding the pickers?
At the exit from Huwwara opposite Beita we did not espy the military vehicle.
The traffic is now flowing. The military vehicle is still standing guard in the middle of the Menorah roundabout.
Translation: Hanna K.
It's the eve of Yom Kippour, the roads are relatively empty owing to the Yom Kippour closure.
We are invited by Munir Kadus from Burin who has organized for us four groups for the Sea Days, and has now invited us to visit his mother's home.
The roads are relatively empty, military vehicles drive on the road, but we didn't observe any special preparations by the army.
09:30 Za'tara CP
"Nahal" soldiers are in charge of the CP. There are no delays. A police checks the papers of the Palestinian driver.
By chance or not, Munir Kadus has become the day's hero in the Haaretz newspaper article by Avi Isassharoff: "This is what will happen to a Palestinian who dares to complain against the settlers".
We brought M. the article and read it out to him and his family. All were proud of him.
On the terrace, between houmous plates, the pitas with Za'tar from the outdoor stove, the wonderful haloumi cheeses made by his mother, all from their sheep's milk, Munir told us about another day of calamity yesterday at Assira-Kabaliya. The settlers burned trees. Munir was busy collecting testimonials for "Yesh Din" and "Btselem" yesterday.
From a conversation we held with the members of the family it transpired that in spite of the fact that part of the locals know Hebrew, they don't know reading and writing, and so we had the idea that this is another possible initiative – to teach an interested group Hebrew.
It is autumn in Burin and the air is suddenly different, the olive trees with their grey foliage are replete with olives this year.
In two weeks the olive picking which last for a month and a half begins, and we were invited to participate in the olive harvest of the family at Burin, a place perpetually prey to the violence of the settlers of Yitzhar, Bracha and its outposts, which overlook Burin from all the mountain ranges which encircle it…
The "Nahal" soldiers wonder who we are, 4 women who walk about the CP on the even of Yom Kippour. A car with a yellow number plate is detained. The driver has no authorization, permit etc. The cars passengers are detained for an hour and a half for enquiries. "The car may be stolen" say the soldiers. "we stop any Israeli vehicle for checking at the entrance to Nablus, for fear of the settlers lest they harass the Palestinians.
It is closed and locked with an iron gate. This is the truck CP, and today nobody comes and goes.
There are no soldiers present, but from the tower a soldier peeks and observes us.
At the "piazza" of the Huwwara CP, on the way back, we observe signposts:
The continuation of the freezing
Means the beginning of the uprooting
Ivette, don't be Bibi
Signed: the Benjamin residents' council –
The united staff
So, may you be inscribed in the book of life Bibi and Abas and our two peoples, this is a good time for self-examination and amendment
Today at 24.00 the closure began in honour of Yom Kippur.
17.10 Huwwara checkpoint. Before the circle at the entrance of the checkpoint is a soldier in the sentry tower. The checkpoint today is decorated with fliers on which is written, “ I ask for my brother” and in the second “We return to Joseph.” In the middle is a decoration (picture) of the grave of Joseph. A childish drawing and a long line of signatures of little girls “The inheritance of Tzvi girls” (?) These writings including that of new criticisms of the freezing process hang as usual on the fence of the checkpoint. Here they are displayed to one and all by the soldiers of the IDF who are the guards. There is a strong flow of traffic to Nablus. A car with Israeli license plates is checked at the entrance by the soldiers. 4 soldiers keep a watchful eye on the cars leaving Nablus. ]
17.20 A flying CP at Burin & road 60. When we were on our way to Huwwara we did not see an army presence but now there is a jeeps there and on both sides of the road are members of the army. At the top of the hill opposite the entrance to Yizthar are two soldiers.
16.30 The crossroads of Jit. An army command car is parked at the crossroads. A little after the village of Jit at the eastern side of Kedumiem near to road 55 an armed soldier watches and speaks on the communication device.
17.50 The Habla checkpoint. at the entrance to the village are 4 armed soldiers. Palestinians stand and wait their turn to go into the rooms where they are checked. They are already used to this procedure. All 5 go in. The commander of the checkpoint tries to stop us from photographing and says, “Here are secret affairs”. Afterwards he says that in another minute he will close. A truck comes to the checkpoint.
Translation: Hanna K.
07:15 Because of the holiday and the closure the barrier is down. There are no soldiers and no Palestinians.
How will those who live on the other side of the fence enter the village? Their problem…
07:25 Shomron Crossing
Because of the holiday and the Ramadan we set out later. The gate is empty in all directions. Along road Haim Landau eastwards, there are tens of bicyclers who enjoy the fact that the Samaria settlers don't drive during the holidays and the Palestinians have no reason to get on it.
07:40 The road to Marda is open as is that to Zeita and Jam'in.
We saw that the road which goes up to the villages has been paved, and decided to try and go through them on the way to Huwwara. On leaving the main road there is no sign forbidding the entrance for Israelis, so we drive up securely and safely. On one of the crossroads we "chat" with a local lad (both of us don't speak Arabic and he doesn't know Hebrew) he is very courteous and identifies us as "Arab Israil". Otherwise what business to we have there? All around there is a building boom and many stone quarries.
We crossed Huwwara from the west and joined the main road. The small town is slowly waking up for the eve of their holiday.
The Yitzhar and Bourin CPs are not manned.
08:00 Huwwara CP:
A reduced shift. There are no soldiers at the post near the parking lot, and the Nahal soldiers at the CP also check the vehicles of the Israelis entering Nablus. The DCO is present. According to him since the "price label" events during which the adjoining fields were set on fire, no exceptional activity of the settlers has been observed. The posters proclaim that the continuation of the freezing is the beginning of the uprooting. Amen to that!
It is still early (in Palestine the winter clock is already in effect) and the traffic is very sparse. There are not Border Policemen around.
08:55 Beit Furik. At the CP as usual one doesn't see any soldiers. Only the roar of the generator bears witness to their presence at the top of the pillbox.
09:00 Awarta: The iron pincers completely block the passage. One doesn't see any soldiers. We honked and got the attention of the soldier at the post. He has no idea why the passage is closed and how trucks will enter Nablus (today is the eve of the holiday, and many sheep have to be slaughtered). We called the DCO Nablus and the soldier girl there didn't even know that the CP was closed. (this has of course nothing to do with the closure as this is an internal CP). She promised to find out and to call me back. I'm still waiting. When I'll hear from her I'll report.
09:25 Za'tara: Few cars pass in both directions.
09:45 Shomron Crossing: At the entrance to Israel there are only us and the bicycle riders. At the entrance to the territories Border Policemen and Blue policement check the papers of Israeli Arabs and cause a long queue which includes busses of hikers. We were unable to understand who hikes in the territories during the holidays when their leadership is in the synagogue.
We expressed to the bored guards our astonishment at the fact that checks are performed on leaving the country and not on entering it (security) and they didn't understand about what entrance we are talking.
A good year and may we have a lot of rain. This at least is good for Jews and for Palestinians alike.
Translator: Charles K.
Flyinf checkpoints at burin and route 60 and at Sara and route 60
14:55 A traffic jam at the Ariel industrial zone. While moving forward slowly, we see on the right a parked vehicle facing the traffic. A policeman stands beside it, a spike barrier on the road. Soldiers are also on the other side of the road. It’s not clear whether there’s been an accident or something else. The traffic jam quickly evaporates.
The checkpoint at the entrance to Kifl Haris is manned by soldiers.
16:25 Za’tara checkpoint – about 30 Palestinian vehicles (coming from the direction of Nablus) wait to go through the checkpoint.
Harsh posters opposing the peace conference, etc., hang fearlessly everywhere in next to the checkpoint, including the plaza under the soldier’s station, without interference.
Very heavy Palestinian vehicular traffic both from the direction of Ramallah and from Nablus.
You can feel the army’s presence.
16:28 Flying checkpoint at Burin-Route 60. A command car is parked across half the road, two soldiers with weapons pointed at those approaching the checkpoint. A spike barrier across the other half of the road. It turns out this road was blocked to Palestinian vehicles yesterday also. Is it to keep the area sterile on behalf of the settlers in Yitzhar? It is very reminiscent of the sterile area for the settlers of Itamar and Alon Moreh – the Madison route that, as you know, is an apartheid road.
16:30 Huwwara checkpoint – The checkpoint is crowded. Very heavy vehicle traffic. Sometimes the soldiers stop a vehicle, and then release it.
We drove back toward the Burin-Route 60 interchange – where, as we said, a flying checkpoint has been there for two days.
Driving on Route 60 the difference between the heavy traffic we saw previously and the desolation of this road was noticeable. When we reached the turn to Kafr Sara in one direction and Kafr Jit in the other we saw the checkpoint blocking the portion of the road now forbidden to Palestinians.
A command car is also parked here across the road, soldiers with drawn weapons not allowing Palestinian vehicles to go through, only those with Israeli license plates. In other words, settlers. The soldiers at the checkpoint say, “It’s for security reasons.”
As far as the Palestinians are concerned, this lengthens (by half an hour) their journey and makes it harder because of the increased traffic: for example, someone who wants to go from the village of Huwwara to Jit has to go to Nablus and come out through Sara; someone who wants to go from Tulkarm to Ramallah has to go into Nablus and from there come out through the Huwwara checkpoint.