'Awarta, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 3.5.09, Morning
7:20 Za'tara. 9 vehicles from the west, 21 from the north.
2 pedestrians at the turnstiles. 2 inspection booths open.
Many people going to Nablus.
7:40 One inspection booth closes because one of the inspectors went to eat; a line forms.
A soldier on guard, who seems bored, asks us what we're doing here. We try to explain.
His response: "Why bother to stand here? Why not enjoy life, enjoy your grandchildren? If it were up to me, I wouldn't be here."
8:00, approximately. Still only one inspection booth open, about 40 people on line.
9 vehicles on line to leave Nablus. We timed how long it takes for one to go through: 5 minutes from the time it arrives at the checkpoint until the inspection is finished.
8:30 About 40 people at the checkpoint. Although both inspection booths are open, a greater flow of people toward the checkpoint increases the number who are waiting.
A bus driver tells us that this morning at 7:00 a checkpoint was set up at the Burin/Yitzhar junction. He was transporting teachers to Beita, his vehicle was stopped, the teachers had to get off and, he said, were held for an hour and a half. He adds that Palestinians avoid traveling by bus because they're made to get off and the long delays. A trip to Ramallah by bus takes about two hours. He points to an elderly man seated next to him, and says that he has a permit to work in Israel and at 2:30 in the morning went to the Eyal checkpoint in order to get to work. But he wasn't able to go through on time and had to return the way he came.
5 vehicles; they're inspected quickly. A car is parked next to the checkpoint. In answer to our question a soldier says that the car doesn't have a permit to go through, and they're trying to deal with it.
A Border Police jeep is parked opposite the village. We're on our way into the village, but are delayed by the heavy traffic on the road. A Border Police soldier comes over to us, asks whether we need help. We ask him why they're parked there. His answer: For security. Whose security, we ask, the Palestinians'? The settlers'? He's amazed: To protect Israelis from the Palestinians. He's never heard of settlers harassing Palestinians, nor about what happened yesterday in Bat Ayin. It's obvious that the only thing that happens is that Palestinians attack Jews.
The market is empty. People we run into say things are better (everything in life is relative, of course). They invite us for coffee.
11:00 Za'tara. No cars in either direction..