Beit Furik, Huwwara, Shomron Crossing, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 7.10.09, Afternoon
14:20 - Border checkpoint Sha'ar Shomron:
The border police were holding up the line of vehicles going into the territories. A checking of some kind was taking place. A vehicle was being held at the exit, and two Arab women were standing by a police jeep. It was not clear what was happening.
14:40 - Za'tara junction:
On the west to east lane the checkpoint was empty of all soldiers.
The north to south checkpoint was moving smoothly.
Even though there were about 30 vehicles lined up still the line seemed to be moving.
14:45 - Huwwara checkpoint
The two of us had just put our feet out of the car when a soldier was already demanding that we move back, and asking us who we were anyhow!? We answered politely but firmly and continued to walk to where we could see what was happening.
We were standing near the checking booth for the lane going into Nablus; the vehicles were going in without any problem. But on the side going out 5 cars were standing on the side, and off the road there were another 3 cars; it was unclear who the 3 cars belonged to. One vehicle passed the others, turned around and went back to Nablus.
A number of soldiers were standing around one car whose license plates we couldn't see. I, Sharon, went up to the soldier who had, at first, told us to move away and asked what was happening. His first answer was, "I don't know. I'm standing here just like you..." And then he allowed himself to answer that it was a regular checking. I continued talking to him about the cars that were being delayed at the side. I asked in general about checking the cars and he said that they checked them. I said that as far as I knew there was no checking being done, and if so the checking now was random. He agreed with me. Then he asked me who we were and what we are doing.
S., from the DCO, came over and in a friendly manner asked how we were. He explained that the car that was detained was an Israeli car with several Jews who had lost their way and ended up in Nablus. The Palestinian police had stopped them, and returned them to the checkpoint while contacting the DCO. By then all the cars had gone on their way.
I told S. about my conversation with the soldier. He explained that they had been at the checkpoint for two weeks and had been given the order to randomly check the vehicles, and critical cases, such as ambulances, were not to be held up at all. He told us that the road into Nablus is going to be repaved, that there will be several lanes through the checkpoint, there will be lighting and booths for "serious" checking. In general, there was little traffic and it was moving quite quickly.
15:06 - Beit Furik checkpoint
The entrance to Nablus was empty. In the lane coming from Nablus there was one car leaving and another car coming up. There were several soldiers at the booth checking the cars leaving the city. A tractor with an Israeli flag stood at the side. After several minutes we saw that a line of about 8 cars were waiting to go through and each vehicle was being checked. It took about 3 minutes for each taxi to be checked. After we had been there a few minutes a soldier left the booth and came over to us. He too asked who we were and if we had a permit to stand there. We explained who we are and what we do, and I asked him the reason for the long line of cars and why they were checking every vehicle. He explained that they had received information on a suspicious/wanted person who it was said would go through the checkpoint. Therefore, they were stopping every vehicle and checking ID cards.
16:45 - Za'tara junction:
14 cars were in line coming from Nablus.