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 23.3.08-29.3.08
Bethlehem CP: Purim closure. 2 windows open. A group of Italian pilgrims
cross to Jerusalem to go to church on this Easter Sunday. The shrill voices of
the female soldiers on the other side disturb the silence, railing the nerves.
A soldier screams through the loudspeaker.
PM, 24.3.08 , 15:00-18:00
A hot day. Not a car parked, not a soul around, although this is after a week's
closure. Apparently everything is now
being dealt with at the Bethlehm DCL, to which we presently have no
long line of vehicles, but no
Bethlehem CP. We hear shouts even before we enter the CP – another
ordinary morning in Bethlehem CP. Five checking posts are open. The crowding is
horrible. The security men and the soldiers in the booths try to put some order
in the mess by shouting and stopping to check documents altogether, and are
surprised that it doesn’t help. “They are animals,” complains a security man. He
looks authentically insulted by the incapacity of Palestinians to understand how
to behave nicely.
twenty minutes later two policemen emerge from the offices, to see what is going
on, and then an army officer. Even the nice DCL rep from last week is there.
They all stand and watch, like us. So now there is a massive presence of law and
order in the CP, and still nothing changes. One policeman approaches us. He is
hurt by our reports. He wants us to note that it is all the fault of the army,
not the police’s. Why, at least, a sixth checking post is not opened? we ask.
The computer is out of order, is the expected answer. In the two and something
years that we are coming to Bethlehem CP we saw maybe five times that six posts
were functioning all at the same time.
at around 08:30, and people are still squeezed against each other in the
CP, 8am. A line of detained buses full
of pupils from Hebron and Bethlehem are on a day trip to Jericho. It is a very hot day, and some
(the teenagers) have been waiting over an hour while their Ids are being
checked. In the buses with young
children, only the teachers are being checked.
The procedure takes a very long time and the officer's cockiness causes
tension. When the long lines of other cars are finally let through, things start
moving in all
terminal. A terribly hot day. The terminal was almost deserted, though many
cars were in the parking lot.
CP. Many more BPs than usual. 3 detained
vehicles. After 10 minutes, all Ids were
returned and the CO told us to take cover, because there was going to be an
exercise, which we witnessed from the shop -- all 5 minutes of it. Traffic then
moved through very quickly.
security personnel. Absence of
carousel, and lines in the 2 operating passageways were full. Suddenly another passageway opened, and the
entire crowd at the entrance flowed in.
carousels allowed 3 people at a time in. It took an average 3 minutes to check
the papers of each trio. At the vehicle checkpoint raffic was moving as
were operating and that the northern entrance was closed again. Time to pass was
about 20 minutes, till one computer crashed. People in its line waited 30
minutes without any explanation for the delay. The closure appeared to be
enforced selectively. Some green IDs were allowed to
Nabala: 29 vehicles waiting. People
whose ID cards said Hebron or Nablus were not allowed into Bir Nabala, although
"everyone knows that many people from Hebron and Nablus have moved into Bir
Nabala, where rents dropped dramatically
after the original residents abandoned once it was encircled by the Wall", said
soldier. Drivers complained that lines at this CP are generally much
minutes to take a woman in labor to Mukassad Hospital, for lack of a permit. She
was not even allowed to transfer to the ambulance, though the 3 crew members
swore they had the skills and equipment to deliver the baby safely in their
vehicle. We made some phone calls that
seemed to work -- the woman was shortly allowed into the ambulance -- but not
into a Jerusalem hosptial, on GSS instructions.
Although the ambulance crew recommended that the husband transfer his
wife to the Ramallah hospital in an ambulance, in view of the practical
certainty that she would give birth en route, he decided to take her in his own
Anata. Heavy traffic, but the two lanes of cars were moving relatively
smoothly. There were fewer than usual schoolchildren because of school
Qalandiya. No line at the carousels. There was a very large group of
prisoners’ families who passed through just at this time, using a couple of
the other hand, the DCO opened only at 9:10, after a number of several phone
calls on our part. There were at least 20 people waiting by this time, one of
them on crutches (there really should be some seating provided at each gate).
They were directed to gate 4 – leaving the people waiting for the post office
confused as to where they should be. When we managed to catch the attention of
the breakfasting soldiers in the DCO office, they told these people to join the
line in gate 4. The soldier in the outside office managing the carousels (having
no work to do) seemed to be absorbed in a computer game for the entire time we
were there. When we did manage to make eye contact with her at one point so as
to ask for help, she totally ignored us.
Jit Junction. No CP.
Beit Iba. Few vehicles are waiting to enter Nablus. The 3 pedestrian
lines are long and moving very slowly.
young men are detained, but are released soon after their IDs are being
Beit Iba. The checkpoint is manned by reserve soldiers, as usual more
relaxed than the regulars. No lines form, not pedestrian nor vehicular. The
people entering Nablus pass without checking. At this time the checkpoint
usually teems with students. Not today, for some reason.
Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction. Empty of vehicles.
Huwwara. 3 active checking posts, x-ray truck. Pedestrian lines quite
full, and get much more crowded during our shift. The humanitarian line is
A youngster is sent to the cubicle for 'educative' detention, not having been
servile enough in line.
the fierce sun, along the concrete ledge outside the exit area, a new post for
the women (nine of them) waiting for their male travel companions not yet done
with the checks.
line become full to bursting, endless in the suffocating
Beit Furiq. As usual at this time of day, a fair trickle of pedestrians,
long line of about 35 cars outbound from Nablus. Cars inbound have to
wait long, too, until they're signaled in.
truck with 3 scrapped cars stands at the side of the CP entrance since
five and a half hours by the time we get there. Soldiers on the morning shift
took the driver's ID, no explanation given. He's been waiting since. We call the
army hotline, then the DCL who promise to look into it. They also inform us that
a Beit Furiq resident's truck needs an entry permit to Nablus. That is an
this is what we learn of the following surreal development: For the past several
days there are new instructions in the region – trucks delivering scrapped cars
into Nablus require specialized inspection. Today the specialist is absent, so
the driver at hand has been ordered to while away what by now has become six
hours (and running).
our way home, after 18:30, we learn that he has just been released. No
This man waited with no explanations offered from
until 6:30 p.m. due to a new draconian, un-enforceable regulation. Naturally
seven and a half hours' waiting at a checkpoint do not entail any explanation
for the victim.
PM–5:25 PM, Beit Iba. The pedestrian passage from Nablus was very
difficult. The number of people waiting in line when we arrived was long, and
doubled and even tripled an hour later. The DCO (District Coordination Office)
representative on duty who was there from the morning, left at 3:20, just when
things began to build up to their maximum. We had called the Humanitarian Hot
line and the DCO any number of times before help actually
About 200 people on the "humanitarian line" and about 400 to 500 on the young
men's line. At the entrance to the turnstile the crowd is about 10 people wide
all trying to vie for that precious but elusive spot which will led to the exit.
time was anywhere from an hour to an hour and forty minutes. A man entering the
checking area leaves his bags, phone, etc. on a shelf and gives the ID to the
MP. He then steps through the metal detector doorway. If it buzzes he goes back
and has to figure out what is causing the buzz. Sometimes he has to go back 4 or
5 times. We noticed that the buzzing mechanism buzzes at random intervals
regardless if someone is passing through the door way or not. Another serious
problem is that one of the MPs has to stop her work of checking those on line
from Nablus whenever the commanding officer brings her an ID he wants checked
from either the side line or the line of pedestrians going into
was a detainee since 12. He was released at 3:40. Near the end of the shift 5
detainees were brought to the area because they had tried to avoid the CP. They
were kept for about an hour. Waiting
time at the humanitarian line was about 40 minutes. As a result, more urgent
cases started to form a line to the side of this line. Depending on the judgment
of the soldier, they were sent back to the end of the line or not. One man in
his 60's was even told to go to the back of the young man's line as punishment
for trying to side track the "humanitarian line."
the wait on all the lines was so long, people looked for alternatives. Some
young women climbed into a full minibus and stood until the minibus made it to
the CP. However, the soldier at the CP forced them back on line saying it was
illegal to stand in a minibus. A crippled person managed to get a ride on a
donkey wagon. A young mother got her 3 children into a wagon pushed by a porter
in order to get through the CP.
vehicle traffic varied from 3 to 9 vehicles on line to Nablus. Checking each
vehicle took anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
vehicle traffic from Nablus varied from 1 to 10 vehicles on line. Checking each
vehicle was anywhere from a minute to 12 minutes.
Jit Junction. Unmanned, also on our way back at 5:43.
Qalqilya. A long line of vehicles waiting to exit Qalqilya; no vehicles
on the other side.
Anabta. No vehicles entering Tulkarm; about 14 coming out. Checking is
random on both sides.
15:50, Jubara. Uneventful
Gate 753.Three youths are detained.
Qalqilya. No queues. Vehicles come in and out without
young man loitering with the taxi drivers gives vent to his anger. Five minutes
before our arrival, he says, 2 army vehicles entered the city "to make arrests".
They shoot. Just like that. "They kill, kill, men, children, they don't care."
He himself is waiting outside "so as not to be killed".
The entrance from Rd 55 is still blocked. No army
Anabta. The line of vehicles coming out of the city seems long, but the
passage is fairly quick.
Jubara & Ar-Ras. Again we had to wait for permission to enter the
Ar-Ras there is a dog-handler, but no cars were checked. Ecumenical volunteers
stationed in Tulkarm told us that there is a demolition order for a house
belonging to Jubara but situated just outside the village, in what is now a
military area. Surprisingly, they were allowed to walk on the military road and
visit the people. Apparently
B'Tselem and other organizations are involved.
Sunday AM, 16.3.08 Meitar-Sansana. A long queue. Passage from the end of the queue through the CP took about 30 minutes. The Palestinians said this slow pace was due to our presence. One man showed us his permit to be in Israel issued by the Ministry of the Interior, valid 13.3.08-13.9.08, yet was not let through. No reason given, none known. Hebron, No detainees at any of the CPs. A municipal employee who came to the CP at the Patriarchs' Tomb was allowed through after leaving his ID with the soldier there, to be given back upon his return from work. We were told that this arrangement depended on the whim of the soldier.