'Anata, Thu 1.7.10, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
Giv'at Ze'ev roadblock
Tens of men and women crossed in the direction of Giv'at Ze'ev. The traffic is not very heavy. A handful of people, a break, more people, a break, another group... the men waited near the petrol station and on the main road for transport. The women appear to be cleaners in the settlements. There is a theoretical crossing for cars, but everyone crossed on foot.
We asked a few people how long it had taken them to cross. "A long time", said the first one, and after a moment's thought added: "an hour and a half". "Not long", said another one. "Today it went quite quickly, but sometimes it takes a long time", said a third one. "They check everyone individually", said a few people. One of them re-buckled his belt. "Look inside", offered another.
We were not permitted to go in. A civilian security man and woman told us that there is no problem for us to stand outside, but we were not permitted to enter. Why? A. Because it is dangerous. B. "There are laws at the roadblock".
The DCO officer offered information: people cross via a magnometer and if something causes it to sound they have to take off suspicious items, such as a belt for example. The roadblock is never crowded, like Kalandia, because people do not all arrive at the same time, but during the early morning hours, starting from about 5:00 a.m., and the number of those permitted to cross is limited. The crossing into Giv'at Ze'ev is permitted for residents of the area of Bidu and Bir Nabala who are in possession of a permit and are listed in the roadblock lists. In the other direction, towards the area of Bidu and Bir Nabala, the residents of Nebi Samuel and El Chaleila can cross freely. On road maps the roadblock is actually shown as 'El Chaleila crossing'. While we were there no one crossed in that direction.
Since we are not residents of either of the villages we too are not allowed to cross. But, according to the DCO officer, it is not forbidden for us to be in the area at the other side of the roadblock crossing. How do we get there? "Via Kalandia and the special road that we built". In other words, the road (that has been absorbed into the road) through Bir Nabala enclave which crosses the tunnel to Bidu.
The summer holidays have begun and, without schoolchildren, the roadblock is less crowded. The new large roadblock is being built at the side. The check points have already been erected, but it is difficult to say how long it will take until it will all be ready. Meanwhile, a part of the road in front of the functioning roadblock (when arriving from the direction of Jerusalem) stands in its ruined condition. A dirt road serves as the main exit road from the neighbourhood for thousands of residents.
The inspections are fast. Soldiers get on the buses, glance around, and get off. One bus is held up for a minute to allow an old person who can hardly walk with a stick, to get on. A soldier accompanies him, supports him and helps him to get onto the bus. In front of the turnstile a female soldier gives a quick look at ID cards and entry permits into Israel. When someone holds out a small bag to her for inspection it takes her a second to realize what he had done. On her own initiative she would not have checked it. ID cards are taken randomly - all blue ID cards - for a quick check with the computer. It takes a minute or two, but on the faces of those whose documents have been taken there is anxiety. They cross here every day, why is something suddenly wrong with the document? All the documents are 'ok' and their owners can, after a moment of fear, continue on their way.
Suddenly a man is led from the road to the soldiers' position. A soldier holds him by the neck and puts him into the booth. It is impossible to see what is happening inside. The soldiers outside inspect the man's documents. A few minutes later he is released and returns to his car. What happened? There were two knives in the boot of his car. "They thought I wanted to kill someone", he said.
This 'incident' did not trouble the soldiers. "No running", shouts a female soldier to someone who arrives at the roadblock running, apparently he was hurrying to work, but it was not clear whether this was an order or a suggestion. A soldier conversing with a female soldier blocked the exit from the turnstile for a moment, but he possibly did not even realize what he had done.
The faces of those crossing the roadblock show the stormy feelings under the outwardly relaxed appearances. They turn their heads away so that they do not have to see who is blocking their way to their daily activities, and at the same time they lift their narrowed eyes for a quick glance at the eyes of the soldier to try and read whether everything is alright or whether they are going to come across some problem or another.