Tapuach Zatara Junction Checkpoint 15:00
No waiting line or detainees seen.
Inside Huwwara village we were told that the army and police had been very busy all morning towing away cars. Later, at the checkpoint and from talks with other people we learned that the ‘operation’ targeted mainly Israeli license-plated vehicles that were brought to the Territories for repairs or maintenance by their owners, in violation of some law that has been passed recently (or about a year or more ago?). Where there’s law, there’s order…
Beit Furiq Checkpoint 15:20
No soldiers or traffic delays seen. In the village itself we were happy to see that a house we had visited a few years ago in wake of an army incursion that had left its outside and inside scarred and marred with bullet holes has now been finally repaired and undergone at least a ‘face lift’.
Huwwara Checkpoint 15:45
The car park is filled with towed vehicles and tow trucks, harvest of the Huwwara garage raid. A white police jeep opens its back door as we disembark, and a uniformed (not of soldiering age) man hangs out of it and lets loose a barrage of yelled commands for us to split, get away, not dare approach the checkpoint. As he was still at it, we were already on the phone with the army hotline, and before we knew it, the police van had vanished to the sound of its screeching tires.
A white civilian (Israeli)-looking van is parked about 20 meters outside the checking post on the lane for vehicles exiting Nablus. Next to it stands an armed, uniformed, bare headed man (unlike other soldiers who normally wear either helmets or caps). He and the Border Patrolmen - who regularly check and/or clear cars and passengers on the move – are conducting a procedure the interpretation of which we shall leave to our readers:
The soldiers are keeping three full Palestinian service cabs (vans) at the side of the exit lane, opposite the checking post. A young man/student/late adolescent? is ordered out of one of the cabs, hands his ID, undergoes the usual caress procedure (arms and legs splayed against the concrete post, tapping search of torso, legs inside and out); he is then accompanied by the soldier over to the armed uniformed man by the white van who takes his ID and gives the young man an additional security caress to his trouser pockets (should we call them crotch pockets?) and escorts him into the white van. There the young Palestinian male spends between 7 and 10 minutes while the armed uniformed man is seen waiting outside, after which he escorts his ‘client’ to the soldiers, the man gets his ID back and returns to his taxi, while another youngster (all the ‘interviewees’? objects of interrogation? Something else? look of late high school or college student age) goes through the exact same procedure. One of the taxi drivers held up by all of this had a lively exchange with the Border Policemen in the meantime, and after two such episodes, took off with his other passengers, so the boy who was inside the white van at that time finally had to reenter Nablus, probably to look for another cab.
We witnessed four such episodes of identical duration, and at 16:20 the white van left the checkpoint compound, with at least two persons inside (as we had assumed earlier), the fellow who had done all the delivering, and at least one more person who had been inside all along.
As soon as this institution had left, the exit traffic from Nablus flowed at its relatively normal pace.
At 16:45 we left too.
Because of Israeli-holidays-closure we decided not to visit the worker crossing at Irtach and instead drove up to see the desecrated mosque in Huwwara – see for ourselves the very visible traces of the hate-spraying (Star of David and the name Mohammad next to it) that no one has yet managed to wash off. The desecrated wall is not an external one, and the mosque is located in very close proximity to houses on winding alleys. It is quite obvious that whoever did the deed sneaked up there with genuine commando skill.
Huwwara’s many garages are closed, and apartheid auto-mechanic trade is safe for the moment.
At 17:00 we were on our way back into Israel, heavy traffic and ceremonies.