We are accompanied today by Tamar, an ex-student who has just returned from New York and is interested in the activities of Machsom Watch.
06.40 Habla. We arrived to find the gate closed. A few minutes later the soldiers open it. In the past, the gate was opened at 06.30 and later we call the moked to advise them. The door to the “mitkan” is locked and despite concerted efforts from the soldiers, they are unable to unlock it. Consequently the waiting Palestinians have to undergo manual checks. There are about 15 people waiting to enter and the manual checks are fast (about 1.5 minutes each). We leave at 07.10 with approximately 25 Palestinians waiting.
07.20 Ras-a-tiyah. The crossing is very quiet with few people around. There are several schoolchildren arriving and a school bus trundles across after it is checked by the soldiers.
07.40 Shaar Eliyahu. As we go through, we do not see any Palestinians waiting. We turn into the Qalqilya entrance to show our guest the location of the former checkpost but there is little to see and traffic is flowing freely.
08.0 Shvut Ami. As we drive past, Tamar mentions that she sees someone on the hill at the left hand side of the road.
08.05 Jit junction. No army presence.
08.20 Anabta. No one is around. We drive into the area of the checkpost and turn around after it and drive back.
08.45 Huwarra. There is a military policeman and other soldiers standing on/by the road near the location of the old checkpost. We are asked if we know “Edna”. Cars are passing freely. Then we note the presence of a dog handler and a car is stopped and searched, the dog entering the car.
10.0 Tapuach junction. There is a long line of cars approaching the junction. At first we think this is due to checks, however it appears that Maatz are doing roadworks and holding up the traffic in each direction in turn. We park at the junction and are advised by one of the soldiers to move back “according to rules”. When we dispute this, we are told to move “for our own safety”. There is a dog handler checking a taxi. The Palestinians are standing outside the taxi waiting for the dog to finish sniffing round the car – very humiliating. We ask one of the dog handlers why they do not use plastic sheets to cover the seats. “Only when it rains”, we are told.
We are approached by a Palestinian journalist who is travelling south on a bus. His ID has been taken for checking and he asks for our help to expedite matters. The bus, which is waiting for him, has been waiting nearly half an hour. We call the liaison officer who is very helpful. He speaks to one of the soldiers and within minutes the journalist receives his ID papers, boards the bus and leaves. Another taxi is stopped for a search but leaves after 5 minutes.
Zeta. We stop noting a police car parked at the side of the road by the closed exit from the village and are told by the policemen that they are checking ID’s. Further down the road the exit from Marda is open. We note an army jeep stopped by the side and the soldiers standing by the road throwing bags of rubbish. We tell them that this is forbidden but of course our comments fall on deaf ears.