Habla, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 11.1.11, Morning
The checkpoint opened only at 07:00. The first people were let in only at 07:05. We decided to report the delay when our shift ended, but it turned out that the soldiers couldn’t really handle things.
The gate on the Israel side was only one-quarter open (just one side, not fully). There was a large puddle in front of it. The gate on the Palestinian side was closed. Two soldiers stood nearby and moved to open it for each group that was allowed to enter.
An argument developed between the person keeping order and those waiting. It seems someone slipped in – out of turn – and there was an uproar. The soldiers closed the gates on both sides of the patrol road.
The two buses arrived simultaneously but were held a long time outside the fence without any soldiers taking care of them.
We told the soldiers they’re not permitted to delay the buses.
We contacted the Qalqilya DCO for help because we couldn’t reach the crossings officer. They apparently called the checkpoint immediately, because a few minutes later the buses were let through without inspection or further delay, other than checks of the drivers’ IDs.
The female soldier at the DCO explained that beginning on 8.1.11 the orders are to open the checkpoint only at 07:00. It doesn’t seem to us that the Palestinians are aware of the change, because most of them were annoyed or cynical when they came through. In fact – why the change? People arrive at the checkpoint as they always have, because they must leave early, so why make them wait longer in the rain and cold?
We should again look into the opening hours and arrangements!!!
Since Ruti is new, we took our usual route so she could absorb the different kinds of checkpoints (permanent, mobile, roadblocks), locations of settlements, etc.
Traffic flowed through the checkpoint in both directions, except for random checks, mostly of taxis and their passengers. The checkpoint commander and an additional soldier approached us to talk. We learned from them the times during the day they conduct inspections and the times traffic flows freely. In principle, they don’t delay traffic early in the morning when people are going to work and school, and in the afternoon when people are returning from school, from errands and from work. Nor is there any difficulty going through when the hour is very late. Their approach was positive and mature, and the discussion was polite and respectful.
Six cars on line, but no delays. We saw no military vehicles on the road, or other impediments to traffic.
09:10 Kafr a-Diq
We drove into the center, to the shop next to the municipal building, and talked to people. They reported that they don’t encounter any problems or roadblocks when they leave, but that work began a month ago to expand the area of Alei Zahav toward the wadi bordering the village – on their lands, of course. The landowners update the municipality, which is dealing with the matter. (As far as I know, Dalia is dealing with the village, so we didn’t go into the municipality. I’ll pass on the information.)
10:00 We drove to Route 5 via the plaza at Alei Zahav and Deir Balut. Beyond Ariel, a little before the Shomron crossing, we got stuck for 35 minutes in a long, massive, grueling traffic jam. The road was closed in both directions because of an alert. People got out of their cars to get some fresh air. Most of them were settlers. One, who didn’t realize who we were, said, “A traffic jam like this from time to time is a good thing, so they see how many people live here.” No need to explain. Someone else said that the last traffic jam like this that he remembers was five years ago.
When the checkpoint opened we drove through quickly with the others without inspection or questioning – so what’s the point of it all?