'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Shomron Crossing, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 16.4.09, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
Strong winds, cold and occasional rain
13:54 Cross-Samaria crossing point - Police observe those leaving Israel.
14:20 Marda - Both gates are open.
We saw at a number of places along the fence what seemed to be openings - authorized (?!), a huge mound of earth at one of them. But we saw a villager pass through there with his donkey (photo attached: "An opening to go through"...)
Zeita - As usual, the gate is closed and locked.
14:35 Za'tara checkpoint -
We saw no vehicles waiting from the west; from the north (Nablus, Huwwara) 15 vehicles waited in one lane to be inspected. The soldier on guard points his weapon directly at the passengers in the vehicles.
14:50 Awarta - An endless line of trucks.
14:52 Beit Furik -
Old sights reappear - vehicles waiting to be inspected on both sides of the checkpoint. The line occasionally gets stuck, and sometimes quickly disappears (will send photo).
It starts to rain.
15:05 Awarta checkpoint -
As crowded as before. A long line of trucks, whose end isn't visible. We notified N. at the humanitarian office.
15:15 Huwwara checkpoint -
In the parking lot we meet M. S. who runs a café out of the back of his dilapidated car. He used to have a yellow stand here, an ad for Lipton Tea. But since the most recent decrees he runs a mobile drinks stand. Photo to be attached. The other coffee cart isn't far from him. Today they can sell. No one know about tomorrow. Those are the peddlers who are at the checkpoint today.
Reminder: There's a trailer located east of the road at the industrial zone near Ariel which serves as a meeting place and snack bar for truck drivers and settlers all day long.
There's also a permanent stand at Za'tara that sells food and drinks to soldiers and settlers.
About 40 youths wait under the shed for their turn to be inspected at the two sealed booths. The female soldiers aren't yelling over the loudspeaker today. The line off to the side for women, children and the elderly isn't crowded.
Two detainees in the pen. One stood at the opening and we could see him. When Maya went over to find out how long he's been detained, and why, she was told there were two people in the pen, not one. Things not visible "from our side" (that is, from the place where we're allowed to stand) are visible from there.
The DCO representative refers us to the checkpoint commander to find out why the two are being detained. The answer: they're being checked. The humanitarian office says that if we don't have ID numbers, they won't be able to help. But we have no way to find out the ID numbers of the detainees.
Today, according to the humanitarian office, people are allowed to be detained for four hours.
The occupier is allowed to detain someone each time for this or that number of hours. There's no standard. Only the detention is standard. When, nevertheless, we later tried to find out from the humanitarian office what's happening with the detainees, their reply was: detention is the usual practice at Huwwara.
We hear (again) about settlers from Bracha coming to Burin at night, cursing and throwing rocks.
It begins pouring. There's no shelter in the parking lot from the rain.
16:10 As he did when we first came, the soldier in the booth is still pointing his weapon directly at the passengers in the vehicles arriving for inspection. 11 vehicles are on line coming from Nablus. 3 minibuses are detained in the parking lot - one has already been detained for an hours, each of the others for half an hour. We get to know them - a man from East Jerusalem with a blue ID card, accompanying a friend on the way to celebrate his engagement to a woman from Ramallah. Another minibus, detained, we discover, because of a Palestinian from Gaza who's been living many years in Nablus and is married to a Jewish woman. He asked that the other passengers be allowed to continue without him, but they're not allowed to. We were able to get to know one of that minibus's passengers, an actor who presented impersonations of Arafat, Netanyahu, Sheikh Yassin, Sharon...all this while additional minibuses are detained in our presence. All (except for the first) were released while we were still at the checkpoint.
At 17:20, after being detained for more than two hours, the minibus was released (with the man who'll be engaged today, his friend from East Jerusalem and the other passengers).