Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 22.5.12, Afternoon
We went to see what’s happening at the Tapuach junction.
As we approach Tapuach junction we count some 40 vehicles on line for inspection. We continue to Huwwara, intending to return to the junction later.
Traffic in both directions. No soldiers at the checkpoint. Only as we come closer do we see a soldier peeking out of the round tower at the junction. A second soldier descends to the courtyard and calls to us. Wants to know who we are. We ask the purpose of the soldiers up in the tower. He says they occasionally stop Palestinians, but doesn’t elaborate. Politely asks us to leave because “here isn’t a good place for you,” “it’s not safe here for you.” We do as he asks and turn left onto Highway 555.
The road to Awarta is open; the checkpoint is gone.
– We see don’t see soldiers in the tower; the yellow iron bar isn’t blocking the way. Few cars go through.
We enter Itamar on our way back without flags or nametags, to get to know the locality that’s growing and taking over the surrounding hills. Red-roofed houses with well-kept gardens, and rows and rows of mobile homes.
We return to Tapuach junction via Huwwara. Still a long line of vehicles – about 30. Like others with yellow license plates, we also quickly bypass the line and reach the parking lot. Many cars stopped for inspection by a female Border Police soldier. The Palestinians are asked where they’re from. Two youths are removed from a yellow taxi and taken by a Border Police soldier to large fenced compound. The taxi waits for them in the parking lot.
A bus arrives, the two soldiers get on and ask the passengers to display their ID cards. Meanwhile one of the youths is released and rejoins the taxi passengers. We start talking with the driver. He says his passengers include a woman released from hospital in Nablus and her husband who’s accompanying her. They’re on their way home, but they’re forced to wait. He says all the taxis get stopped. Last week he waited two hours for four passengers who were removed from the taxi and taken for interrogation. A second taxi arrives in the parking lot, from which three youths had been removed and whose documents were taken. Meanwhile the female soldier stops every fourth or fifth taxi. The youths from the first taxi return after a 15-minute interrogation and it drives off.
The femaie soldier takes a break. The congestion finally eases and traffic begins flowing. We talk to one of the soldiers and learn they have orders to detain everyone arriving at the checkpoint from a particular village (apparently a different village each time). They’re removed from the vehicle and taken for interrogation. They’re questioned about their past, and if they’d committed a crime they’re asked whether they regret it. Everything is written down and kept.
A second Palestinian is released after about 35 minutes. After all have returned from the inspection building the second taxi continues on its way.
Shomron gate – About 25 vehicles wait in four lanes, all limited to Israelis. An armed dog handler and dog at the right hand lane wait to inspect suspicious persons.