Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 17.5.09, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
On our way to Huwwara, we pass through Tapuach Za'tara Checkpoint. We see about 15 vehicles waiting in line, no detainees.
Huwwara Checkpoint 15:00
Before we even crossed the taxi park, a red-bereted officer already sprang in our direction. "You'll stand right here', he pointed to the concrete slab by the roadside, far enough so we won't be able to follow the goings-on at the vehicle checking post. 'Your morning shift did not behaved nicely and made trouble (sic!), and if you keep at it, we'll summon the police'. The police did show up, indeed, and a deaf-mute dialogue ensued about the role of the police and the essence of our presence at the checkpoint. The dialogue came to nothing at all.
We saw no DCO representative throughout our vigil.
At the checkpoint - the special side line was empty, women and the elderly pass without delays.
At the male pedestrian lines - about 25 young men. No university in session today and the number of pedestrians is therefore significantly reduced. Two checking posts active: in one, a blue-bereted officer (second lieutenant) standing by the metal detector, rummaging in people's bags and checking IDs against a list held in his hand. At the second checking post, inspection proceeds as usual: stripping of anything that activates the bleep - belt, watch, keys, small change. They pass through the metal detector. If it bleeps, they keep searching for the forgotten coin. If not, they continue towards the 'sterile' inspection post. Insert their ID into the 'sterile' slot, go back to pick up their bleepers previously placed on the table next to the metal detector. Return to the sterile window and soldier sitting behind it with their belongings, pick up their bag over shoulder height, so the soldier will see its content. Pack up once again, pick up their ID from the lower 'sterile' slot, which forces them to bow to the uniformed sovereign.
Cries/growls/roars alternately resound through the PA system from the 'sterile' bungalow where the 'sterile' soldiers sit and inspect the Palestinians. Sometimes the PA system squeaks loudly, sometimes yells are heard in broken Arabic or no-less broken Hebrew: "Whoa, whoa, where do you think you're going? Nobody called you!' (addressing a 40-year old man who comes up to hand his ID), 'Get back, back to the metal detector, everyone back!' Back this, back that.
The loudspeaker creaks. A man with several bags has a hard time understanding the soldier's orders. Shall I open the bags? he asks in Arabic. Open them where? Where? the soldier yells at him - 'on the floor here, what do I care?!' So the man raises everything high up to the window behind which the soldier sits. The soldier is satisfied. 'Now pack up' he tells him. All this while, let it be noted, 40 meters away stands an active x-ray truck.
A 15-year old boy from Yatma is taken into the detention cubicle, locked in with a heavy lock. What was his sin? After 10 minutes, upon release, he told us that as he stood in line, the soldier abused him verbally and finally swore at him crudely. The youngster asked him why he speaks to him that way and this was the grounds for his detention. We did not hear the soldiers' comment.
One detainee was hidden in the cubicle. We did not see him from where we stood, until police came to take care of his case. According to the present commander, who replaced the short-tempered one, this was a man who reached the checkpoint with a medical document suspected as being fake. The police dealt with him for about 15 minutes and finally proceeds. Namely to us, without him.
In the vehicle inspection line: 5-10 cars in line. Waiting time - about ten minutes.
The X-ray truck stands in its usual position. The sniffer-dog and trainer arrive around 16:00. We saw no dog inspections inside vehicles.
Two 12-year olds ask Judit to have a look through her binoculars. She gladly cooperates. The short-tempered officer leaps at them - 'What is this???!!! That's for-bi-dden!!! Scoot! You mustn't look through binoculars around here!" The kids, in great wonder, turn to Judit - "What, he talk like this to Jews too??"
17:00 We left for Beit Furik. At the pedestrian lines about 20 men are being checked in two active 'sterile' posts, about 7 cars waiting for inspection.
Beit Furik Checkpoint
No vehicles waiting, those who arrive get through rapidly. We met the DCO representative who promised to look into the complaints that came in this morning about Border Patrolmen harassing women in Awarta.
17:40 Za'tara Tapuach Junction Checkpoint
3 police cars parked in the lot, 2 Palestinian cars being inspected by both police and soldiers, as well as sniffer-dog (inside the vehicle).
18:00 We came back into Israel through Shaar Shomron crossing. This time we were in the blue car (Arab stereotype, according to our driver) and indeed were stopped for a moment to inquire from where we came...