Beit Furik, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 11.3.10, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
A short and frustrating shift. Border Police take charge.
There is no police roadblock at the entrance to the territories.
The road to Marda is open and to Zeita/Jemayn still closed.
40 vehicles queue from the direction of Nablus to Ramallah. We are in a hurry to get to Beit Furiq and will stop to check it out on our way back.
A military vehicle is parked in the bay of the roadblock but does not appear to interfere with the traffic passing by.
As usual, no soldiers are visible at the roadblock. Only the sound of the generator gives their presence away. As we do every so often, we pretended to enter Nablus and no one tried to stop us. We parked opposite the tower for a while and only then did a soldier peep out to find out what we are doing.
Quiet. There is no dog handler. The soldiers from the Kfir brigade see the end of the era on the horizon.
We park in the car park and immediately the Border Policemen at the entrance have something to say. According to them we are not allowed to stop there because, as is known, it is a military area for inspecting Israeli vehicles on their way to Nablus. We step over the roadblock and they shout again. They claim that we have no right to go there, not even as far as the yellow iron barrier. Nothing we said convinced them and I did not have the permit which allows us to enter with me. They said it was a closed military area but, of course, had no order stating this to show us.
Meanwhile from a distance we see that an unusual queue has built up of people leaving Nablus. This is partly because of lorries trying to cross and soldiers forcing them to turn back and cross via Awarta. The lanes of the new roadblock have not been built to enable lorries to do u-turns and each manoeuvre causes a hold-up and a build up of the queue first at the beginning of one lane and then at the second.
Meanwhile the Border Police at the entrance stop a taxi on its way to Nablus and collect ID cards. We ask the passengers what is going on and they say they have not been told anything. The Border Police are not forthcoming with information: 'routine inspection'. However, there is no computer in their kiosk nor do we see them making contact with security forces. The documents are not opened to pass on information. According to them they are permitted to detain for 18 minutes without explanation. Later the officer will tell us that they are permitted to detain for half an hour without having to give a reason. We asked to take down the personal details of two soldiers and they - as policemen - immediately asked for our ID cards. (Their details are held by me.) Finally they went over to the taxi, returned the documents and the taxi swiftly drove off.
The roadblock commander, also a Border Policeman, approaches to warn his soldiers not to talk to us. According to him the Border Police now run the roadblock and there are no combatants there any more. When we again tried to approach the iron barrier we are not permitted because "the area past the roundabout is already Area A and there is a red sign (even if it is covered with settlers' stickers) saying so".
There is a queue of 20 cars on the way up to the roadblock. This roadblock too is staffed by Border Police and a dog handler. They try to distance us from the car park because they need the area to inspect suspect cars. If only. Here they hold thorough inspections in the only lane open and the queue lengthens. We tried to get them to open another lane because of this - but how does one get the Border Police to listen.
When we arrived, frustrated, at Sha'ar Shomron to our surprise we were asked by those checking to open the window and they looked in: to ensure that we are kosher.
Perhaps in the end they will inspect those entering the State of Israel?