These summaries not only prominent events but also the routine of the checkpoints, each of which is observed during a given period. During the many years of occupation, the Israeli Army and the Civil Administration have continually succeeded in tightening their control over the Palestinians living in their land inside the West Bank. Only those with a valid travel permit in their hand arrive at the checkpoints. These permits are mostly obtained with great difficulty and with deliberately imposedbureaucratic obstacles .
The Palestinians’ appalling problems in supporting...
Weekly Digest 20.1.08-26.1.08
Tuesday AM, 22.01.08
Bethlehem CP, 06:40: Fewer people than usual outside and
inside. 4 open posts, lines very short,
crossing quick. Was it the stormy
weather? A group of people who tried to
find shelter from the heavy rain under the very small roof at the entrance,
were driven away rudely by the very unpleasant civilian guard.
Wednesday PM, 23.1.08
15.35, Bethlehem CP.
2 booths open, 30 people waiting in the large hangar. The soldier receiving
them was efficient and polite, speaking in Hebrew and Arabic. It was a cold
afternoon (5-7 degrees) with a piercing icy wind. When larger numbers of Palestinians arrived,
they had to wait outside the building, which they did in a quiet and orderly
way, until the security guard ushered them in, about 20 at a time. When about 60 people were waiting, we
asked for another booth to be opened.
The soldiers replied that he was forbidden from talking to us. But at
15.55, booths were open and the Palestinians passing smoothly and quickly (5
minutes outdoors, 2-3 minute indoors). A few women, including one with a baby
in a sling, were given priority both by the waiting Palestinians and by the
soldiers at the booths.
Abu Dis Area
Tuesday PM, 22.1.08
Abu Dis is like a ghost town. Nobody coming or going through the old
bawabe. Almost no one in the town
center, where most shops are closed. The
area gets shoddier from week to week.
A few people going back and forth.
The shops there are also closed, having lost their Israeli customers.
Almost completely deserted, not even taxis to pick up or drop off people.
A line of vehicles stretching as far as the eye could see in both
directions. Within seconds of our
arrival, it started moving very quickly. Occasional spot checks held up the
lines, but every so often, the BP would escape the cold into the booth, and
cars would speed through. 20 Palestinians were waiting for their IDs below the
CP. When we left, 25 minutes later, they were still waiting in the pouring
Wednesday PM, 23.1.08
15:15, Olives terminal,
Palestinian side. A cold day,
and only few people attempt to cross at this hour. We were able to enter the terminal, and so crossed ourselves. After 2 turnstiles (both governed
electronically, but the first was open to all), one comes to the plate glass
windows where one shows one's ID. Coats
and bags are laid on a roller into a magnometer, like at airports. Passage was swift and eventless in both
16:00, Container CP. Just a few cars in each direction, no queue,
no delay, no detainees. Passage
swift. A group of workers trudged up the
hill from the direction of Bethany
(since the road is one-way), and they too crossed in no time.
Thursday AM, 24.1.08
A foggy morning.
06.25, Hizme CP. A very long line of traffic. Same upon our return at 08.30.
06.30, Qalandiya. 3 lines of people extending all the way to
the parking lot. The few women and
families with little children proceeded to the head of the queue. Passage took about 20 minutes. 5 windows were
open. Some people had to remove their coats.
By 07.30, pressure was over.
Road 443 Area
Wednesday PM, 23.1.08
Road 443 connects Jerusalem
with Ben-Gurion airport. Palestinians whose land was expropriated for this road
were told it would be a "Peace
Road", accessible to all the
communities neighboring it (totaling about 20,000 people). For a time it
was. The villages bordering it created
industrial and commercial activities that thrived from their relations with
Israelis who had easy access to them and bought products at much reduced prices.
One such venture was a marble factory belonging to A's family. We saw what is
left of their enterprise after Israel
laid cement blocks that prevent transportation of goods between the villages
and road 443: dismantled machinery, men
sitting around with nothing to do, small slabs of marble scattered around. 5 cement blocks destroyed the economic life
of these communities. They also cannot export their products to Ramallah,
because what was a 10-minute drive has become a 1.5 hour drive on bad roads
that make transportation of marble slates very dangerous.
Beit Sira CP.
Local drivers waiting for the builders, who left their homes at 4am, to take them to building sites
or in settlements. These drivers spend
most of their day just standing around the CP. The alternative is to sit at
home. One told us that since he cannot
get a permit to work outside the village, a friend lent him an old car in which
brings workers to the CP in the morning and picks them up in the afternoon
after work. He makes about 30 NIS a
day (charging 2.5 NIS
each way per person). With this he can
still save face in front of his wife and children. "All our life is full
of danger. I am 35 and have not had a good day in my life. How can you help
Among the returning builders was K, who
told us that he and his 2 sons worked in Nazareth
for 2 months but were paid only for one. The
employer owes each of them about 3,000 NIS,
and despite innumerable calls, refuses to pay the debt. Such exploitation is not new, but it becomes
rampant when the authorities ensuring that the Occupation continues unharmed
Sunday PM, 20.1.08
We occasionally revisit this once busy CP, now closed and forgotten, the
main road looking more and more like many of the OPT's smaller unkept roads.
The colorful barricade is tightly locked, and not a soldier in sight.
15:15 Beit Iba. Few vehicles coming out of Nablus,
never more than 5-6 in either direction, but a
plethora of soldiers, with little to do.
The situation is reversed at the pedestrian CP, where there is a huge mass of
people, mainly at the turnstiles, both working.
60-80 plus young men wait patiently to come back from Nablus
midst the usual din of shouting soldiers and shrieking magnetometers. At times
the humanitarian line is also full. When
it's empty, many young men try to advance on it, usually to no avail. The DCL
rep tries to facilitate, but is put into the awkward position of dealing with
men who plead and plead, occasionally with some success.
8 young men in the detention compound,
who we can no longer reach. They tried to go round the CP. No, not as
"punishment", which is not allowed, but as an "army rule which
allows holding them for two hours." Other young men who've reached the
checking booth are turned back to wait, all over again, at the endlessly long
turnstile lines. Each has to remove
"everything that is metal." Belts, phones, money, etc. Plastic bags
and briefcases are also examined, and the process is endlessly slow and
-- at the vehicle checking area, all buses are checked, soldiers entering and
checking IDs. An elderly woman steps out of the humanitarian line, hobbling
badly, trying to mount the bus to help her across the CP. A soldier at the bus
doorway refuses to let her in, despite the DCL rep, and she continues her way
painful way across.
Sunday PM, 20.1.08
(on the seam line). The relaxed soldiers
know nothing about when the gates reopen after they close them at 13:00.
There is nothing written down, but the locals are expected to know the
rules. However, this batch of soldiers
are easygoing, and the locals are relieved.
14:00 Qalqiliya. We are greeted, in English, with: "I'm
not allowed to talk to you." before we say a word. A long line of vehicles out of Qalqiliya,
being checked oh so slowly, and the same for an equally long line of vehicles
entering Qalqiliya. A car with yellow
Israeli license plates is not allowed to enter the city. A pickup truck was pulled over to the side,
where the policemen prod its tires, look at numbers, peer under the hood, cross
to their jeep, bring the men over, return to the pickup truck, and on and on,
for 25 minutes! One of the four passengers says it's a government vehicle, but
the police believe it's stolen. Finally, the passengers cross on foot, and the
vehicle is driven away by a policeman "to have it checked".
17:20 Anabta. In the darkness, a slow endless parade of
vehicles both to and from Tulkarm; as the streams approach the soldiers, lights
are turned off for soldiers to better view the occupants. Nobody is stopped,
IDs not checked.
17:50 Jubara. Flashing lights on the roadway, and of the
police car at the entry. Every car,
ingoing or outgoing, is stopped.
18:00 A-Ras. Darker, but less cold here. Few vehicles in either direction. Taxis coming from Tulkarm are stopped, IDs
checked by flashlights.
Sunday PM, 20.1.08
Sansana-Meitar CP - As last week, few workers returning, and
they are processed immediately. The
delays we saw on the first day of "privatization" appear to have
Tuesday AM, 22.1.08
05:00. Tarqumiya, - A
few transits on the road. Many workers
had already passed. They thanked us for coming, and said that we aren't there,
they are held up or harassed, sometimes forced to stand in the rain for up to
45 minutes. The wait now was up to 10 minutes. It was pouring and freezing, but
no one complained about the weather. Around 850 workers passed between 5 AM and 7 AM when we left.