'Awarta, 'Azzun 'Atma, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 14.5.09, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
About a dozen people crowd round in front of the gate. They tell us that they have been waiting since 5:45 a.m., and the gate has still not been opened. As soon as we drew near the soldier signalled to the group of women and children waiting to cross, and after them he started to let the waiting Palestinians cross, one at a time. One of the Palestinians tells us that the soldiers are new which is why the crossing at the roadblock takes a long time. It improves from day to day, but it is still very slow.
In the direction of the exit there are about 25 people in the queue. Each time the crossing is in one direction only.
Everyone has crossed from the direction of the village; the soldiers have started to let people cross from the other direction (the exit). Two women and a girl in school uniform arrive at the gate from the direction of the village and are forced to wait for five minutes until the soldier lets them through.
The building works at the roadblock are getting bigger from week to week. Now there is a separate gate to cross from each direction plus a concrete block shelter for the soldiers. A Palestinian who crosses comes over to us and tells us, in fluent Hebrew and with heartbreaking descriptions, about their plight. Every morning he waits at the roadblock at the other side of the village from 5:00 a.m., then he waits at the roadblock here. The second one is the worst according to him. He talks about a feeling of suffocation and about great hardship. Another Palestinian comes over to us and tells us a similar tale. The use of the image of someone suffocating and strangling them is repeated and makes us shiver.
From what we understood the roadblock has become the only crossing to the settlements (which, ironically and painfully, is where they work) for all the villages in the area.
Both of the entrances to Marda are open; Zeita is closed.
There are 20 vehicles in the queue from the direction of Huwwara.
A Border Police jeep is parked at the side of the road, opposite the entrance to Beita.
The car park is almost full but the roadblock is empty. Very few people and vehicles arrive, and they cross immediately. Two vehicles lanes are open and the inspections are carried out quickly.
Zachariah calls and says that the Border Police jeep opposite Beita is detaining a bus. We drive there.
The soldiers refuse to talk to us; the bus passengers claim that they have been waiting for a long time. The registration no. of the bus is 7-0037-34. We contacted to the humanitarian centre and spoke to Aluma.
The soldier stops another commercial vehicle and after about two minutes lets it go.
The bus is released.
The bus arrives as Za'atra/Tapuach with us following. At Za'atra it is held up for an additional inspection.
We manage to speak to the passengers and find out that they are on their way from Jenin to Ramallah. They left at 6:30 a.m. The journey to Za'atra/Tapuach should take an hour; they have been on the road over two and a half hours. At the previous inspection they waited for an hour, this is now the third inspection they have been through.
A soldier arrives and sees us talking to the Palestinians, he shouts at them to get back on the bus immediately.
The bus is released to go on its way.
We took the driver's telephone number and passed it to Zachariah. Later Zachariah reported to us that the driver and his passengers got to Ramallah at 10:30 a.m.!!!