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 21-27.10.07
Sunday AM, 21.10.07
06:50 Bethlehem CP: The Ecumenicals,
who had been at the terminal on the other side since 05:00 said that the gates opened at 05:12 and soon, with about 2000 people
waiting at closed again. It remained closed, with people frantically pushing,
for at least half an hour. Then people were let through one by one, very slowly.
What we saw on our side were 3 open windows and few people. A father with a
small infant getting dialysis treatment in Shaarei Zedek couldn't get through. His
permit had expired yesterday! After a lot of calling, the deputy CO allowed him
to pass, and he promised to get a new permit in the afternoon. The terminal
police is being privatized.
08:10 Ezyon: Lots of people ask for our help. Dozens sitting in the waiting
room for the beginning of the magnetic card distribution.
Monday PM, 22.10.07, 14:00-18:30
Anata. Crowded with schoolchildren. A traffic jam caused by a huge electricity
pole was being erected about 200 yards down from the CP. The CP itself looks a
little cleaner, somewhat more sterile.
Atara. Heavy traffic in all directions. It takes a car 15 minutes to pass. The soldiers made sure NEVER to let everyone
pass, so that the queue remained about the same length. They checked randomly,
kept the documents never more than five minutes (even from an entire bus), and
detained no one. However, one of them decided to play policeman and sent
whoever had tried to bypass the queue back to the end, making sure he would not
immediately try to blend in with the line again. Only one driver dared argue with
him, all the others were as meek as sheep.
At a certain point he ?¢?‚¬??played?¢?‚¬?„¢ at aiming his rifle! He
noticed our shock and stopped.
Tuesday, 23.10.07, PM
Sparse traffic on the
roads and at the CPs.
15:15 Atarot CP. Random car checks,
15:30 Qalandiya CP. Almost empty. Only
Palestinians with blue IDs or entry permits cross. At the Post Office the
turnstiles are locked, no answer to our ringing the bell and no soldier far and
wide. It would be interesting to know how many hours this Post Office is
actually open. At the car crossing 6 cars queuing, but they were checked
16:45 Bir Naballah. A very polite CO
answered all our questions. All in all three cars were in the row. No "separation"
Wednesday PM, 24.10.07
16:05 No more than 40 Palestinians at
the pedestrian CP, but the various authorities still managed to make these
Jerusalemites wait up to half an hour to cross from north to south. Only
entrance # 1 is open. At 4:09 the soldiers announce over the
loudspeaker that # 4 is open too. Peopl
dash for it, but only 5 people are allowed through. After waiting for 10 minutes, becoming
increasingly upset, they are told # 4 is in fact closed and they have to go
back to # 1. Another 10 minutes of waiting and being pushed around, and the
loudspeaker announces that entrance 4 is again open. This goes on for a while. Women with children who we have been waiting
in entrance 1 and then in entrance 4 and then again in entrance 1 and again in
entrance 4 are crying, not so much from tiredness but from frustration and
humiliation. At entrance 1 the soldier shouts repeatedly to a very bent old
woman, to show her ID: "Hadj, hadj, hawieh!!" Hadj is supposed to be a respectful title for
old people but somehow, with the threatening shouting of the soldier it sounds
like an insult.
At about 4:35 the soldier checking in entrance
4 decides to be more thorough. To one
tourist he says: "Your visa is not valid", but then lets him go. But then he thinks he has caught a "big
fish". A young boy of about 20,
with a blue ID, is detained and 3 GSS plainclothes men come to question him. He is sent into the door that says "further
inspection". The GSS people don rubber gloves and strip him. The boy seems calm. At about 5pm he is let go. What it was all
about? He said he was born in the US and that his ID said so. He was again and again asked about that and
he said that when he was taken to the new building he saw someone "like a
psychologist or something" who again asked him if he had been born in the USA and then he was released. Strange story.
Thursday AM, 25.10.07
06:40 Anata. A driver told us he
waited half an hour top pass, but we observed quick and smooth passage of
vehicles and pedestrians. Two lanes open. Many children on their way to school.
07:45 Qalandiya. Families of
Prisoners, large packages - seemed to run smoothly and quickly. The bathrooms
are closed. Why? The CO said they have
been vandalized twice and all the parts replaced (toilets, sinks, pipes, bars,
etc.). Lines move forward quickly. Another
opened when it got crowded. Army appeared to be generally helpful to
Qalandiya DCL, 09:40. At the entrance were about 30 angry
people who did not understand why the office was closed. I called and was told
that the office is open, that about 50 people are already inside and that the
computer has fallen. I asked to let at least old and sick people enter so that
they could sit down. One old man post cardiac surgery almost fainted at the
turnstile. He and a very old woman were admitted. During the next half hour the
crowd grew larger, including people with crutches and bandages. Apparently the computers of the Civil
Administration all over the West Bank crashed, and the waiting room was full to capacity.
Sunday, 21.10.07, PM
14:20, Beit Iba. There's work going on at the checkpoint, a small earthmover
in one of the lanes, "brushing" the new surface, another water truck
blocking a lane so that an ambulance can't pass easily, and a group of
Palestinian workers, making a concrete "hillside" alongside the north
side of the checkpoint.
As soon as we arrive, E.,
the commander asks us to please not take pictures "of soldiers." In
the detention compound there are three men, not youngsters. The DCL (District
Coordination Office) representative tells us that the men in the compound have
been there 15-20 minutes. E. mutters something about "permits,"
"checking" and, finally, "they went around the checkpoint?€¦. I
have decided to let them go at 4:00."
14:50--15:00. A military
policewoman clearly complains to E. about us. E. asks to see the camera, is
joined by four other soldiers, including the DCL, and all, in unison, shout at
us that we have to stand behind the white line (from where there's no way you
can talk to the detainees). Security and checking of Palestinian IDs is clearly
not the order of the day of these soldiers as all shout at us, E. pushes one of
us, says he'll call the police, and is about to hit upon the other, when a tee-shirt
wearing man enters the fray, declaring himself a "citizen of Israel, and I
say you're bothering the soldiers." It's not hard to fathom that he's the
contractor working on rebuilding the checkpoint and is the boss of the
Palestinian workers here.
The lines of waiting
Palestinians increase as all this is going on, one soldier shouts at a detainee
who's dared to stand up ?€“ in the compound ?€“ to sit down, and goes over with
his gun pointed at him.
15:45, Qalqilya. 12-15 trucks and cars, waiting to enter Qalqilya. Israeli
cars are checked to see if they have permits to visit family, Palestinian
vehicles not checked at all. No checking of vehicles leaving the city. There is
order and method in the way the Border Police work here, smoothly and efficiently.
Tuesday, 23.10.07, AM, 07:15--08:45
Beit Iba. The traffic,
both pedestrian and vehicular, is relatively sparse. When we arrived everybody
was checked, including women, but soon only men were checked, and no lines
formed. A taxi driver was detained. A soldier approached us and explained that
he crossed the line (literally and metaphorically). Of course. The drivers, who
often cross this virtual line trying to catch a passenger, have long been the
enemy of the people here. They are detained in the enclosure, and released
after a short while.
The vehicle line moves
Sunday, 21.10.07, PM
12:50, Jubara. Few vehicles.
13:00, Ar-Ras. It's lunchtime, the soldiers are relaxed and eating, but at
posts. There's no checking
of the few vehicles that pass to or from Tulkarm or to or from Jubara.
Gate 753. Uneventful
13:15, Anabta. This very same sign causes us "trouble" in Anabta. Here
a blue (Israeli) police truck is parked by the military lookout tower, and two
policemen are harassing particularly
vehicles. The soldiers spend their time, eating, drinking or chitchatting,
often not bothering to man all three check posts. No need, the Israeli police
is doing all the work, including telling us that we're "annoying the
13:45. The line on both sides
grows and grows, up to 16 from Tulkarm. Cars, usually Palestinian Israeli, but
Palestinian too, are stopped and searched, beneath the hood, in the trunk, but
it's completely random, sometimes on their way to Tulkarm, and sometimes those
leaving Tulkarm, while the yellow taxis just whiz by.
Tuesday, 23.10.07, AM
06:15--06:30, Irtah. The
facility opened at 04:30. In Irtah the workers have fewer
complaints than the other privatized or army-managed so-called passages (to Israel). We gave two workers application
forms for "removing a security ban" and explained the procedure. Although
the form is supposed to be filled by the Israeli employer, the fact that it is
written in Hebrew only is a disgrace. Why only in Hebrew? For the same reason
that most road signs cite the names of every godforsaken settlement but not the
names of Palestinian cities.
06:40--07:00, Ar-Ras. A
lone car arrived from Tulkarm, was checked cursorily and sent on its way.
09:00--09:30, Anabta. A
very long line of vehicles stretching on the exit side, and soon the same
happened on the entrance side. Everything is at standstill. No checking. This
is due to changing of the guard, soon followed by a drill: the soldiers started
running, stooping down, waving their rifles, and soon disappeared up the hill. Across
the road, in the olive grove, a couple with a small child harvest olives. They
say that the soldiers let them harvest freely, an unusual thing these days. The
checkpoint still doesn't move. The soldiers are busy talking, laughing, smoking.
Twenty minutes after our arrival the vehicles start moving, quite fast.
Sunday AM, 21.10.07, 06:00-09:00
Sansana-Meitar CP, 06:00.
Hundreds people lined up, before the carousel, waiting already over 2 hours
to pass. For the carousel to open and let 2-3 people in takes over 5 minutes. After
sometime the pace quickened somewhat. People
shouted and complained that we must do something, that it cannot go on like
this, that we should bring journalists and
photograph them, for "the world to see" When we left at 07:30,
over 100 people were still lining up. Others
simply left, having lost a day's work. Even after 9am on our return, people were still
lining up on the Palestinian side. The contractors, on the Israeli side, were
also angry and frustrated. The representative of the contractors in the South
said that since the new CO arrived, matters got much worse.
Ramadin CP: Good new
awaited us at Ramadin. The CP has been dismantled!
Tuesday AM, 23.1.0.07
09:00 Tarqumiya The place is almost deserted. According to the soldiers the
last of the workers went through at 7am, and 4 buses with families
visiting prisoners passed at 8:30. At the loading area, three
trucks are unloading and loading merchandise back-to-back. An Israeli walks through, waving at the
soldiers. At the same time 2 Palestinians are waiting behind the fence for
their papers to be checked.
Privatization: Representatives of the Airport Authority ?¢?‚¬?€?
the terminals section in the Ministry of Defense ?¢?‚¬?€? distribute flyers to
the truck drivers explaining the new regulations at the new terminal, which
will open in two months. Every candidate who does this works gets 40 shekels an
hour and does a special course.
Wednesday AM, 24.10.07, 0630-1100
Ramadim CP has been
dismantled. The village is no longer isolated
Sansana, 06:35 No queue, same as yesterday. So it possible to pass all those people
without long lines.
Highway 60, highway 356 &
35 - Children walking along the road on their way to school. It?€™s very
dangerous. But the safety of Palestinian children doesn?€™t seem to matter. Apparently
there is a plan to build an overpass bridge, but since it?€™s Palestinian
children, it?€™s doubtful this will ever happen. A well-dressed young man
approaches us speaking Arabic. A passing taxi driver helps to translate ?€?Look,
I bought new shoes. Look how fast they get worn out walking through this dirty,
Wednesday AM, 24.10.07, 17.15-18.00
Tarqumiya, No workers'
vehicles on our way to the CP, or parking there. Pedestrians pass faster than
cars. Checking was done by 4 soldiers, while others escort the process. It was
so efficient that by 18.00 the place was empty and we left.