Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 24.10.07, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
In general: Is Nablus a black hole? Many men and women enter the town but only very few comparatively leave it at this time of day.
The eastward checkpoint is gradually becoming permanent. Although cars do not stop, the plastic roadblocks on the road slow the traffic down almost to a halt.
There is no queue of cars coming from the west.
From the north: at this time of day two positions are functioning. There are seven cars in the queue and we monitored the time at five minutes per car, from the moment it arrived until it continued on its way.
A third position is opened.
We left Za'atra when we saw that immediately after the completion of I.D. card inspections the documents are returned to their owners and people continue on their way. Meanwhile the queue built up to 20 cars in all for the three positions.
The positions at the roadblocks at the junctions of Roads 57/60 are not staffed either now or at the end of the shift.
There is no queue of cars leaving.
There is no queue of cars entering.
There is no x-ray machine or dogs. The magnometer is being used at the checkpoints for pedestrians leaving.
There are two checkpoints for pedestrians including a ‘humanitarian' position. There are five people in the queue.
An officer with the rank of 2nd lieutenant is the commander and he says that if anything comes up we should go to him.
An additional position is opened.
There are about ten people in the queue.
In sharp contrast to the ‘dearth' in the ‘leaving Nablus department', there is intensive traffic into the town all the time. More and more taxis arrive at the car park from which people alight and hurry on their way. A woman who was at the roadblock yesterday lost her documents there. The commander contacts whoever it is he contacts and asks them to check the whereabouts of the documents with the operations room. He takes responsibility for her because he remembers the incident. When we decided to leave Huwwara for Beit Furiq one of the taxi drivers came over to us and told us about a man who takes cheeses from Nablus to Ramallah. He is allowed through every day but today they would not let him cross. He calls the man and together we go to the commander. The commander takes it upon himself to find out what is going on. The line of reasoning one of the soldiers gives the officer is that the prevention of the cheeses going through arose because there is no x-ray machine and therefore no way to check the contents of the cheese containers. Apart from that, after they told the man that he can't cross he tried to take the cheese across in a taxi and the owner of the taxi said that they belonged to him. The commander decided to check the containers himself. One of the porters is called to the car checkpoint with his cart. It should be understood: the cheeses are for a school for the blind in Ramallah. Every minute in the burning sun (and one of the signs of the heat outside are the beads of sweat on the brow of the porter) shortens the life of the cheeses and who knows if, when they reach Ramallah, they will still be edible. The lid of one of the containers is lifted, a glance inside and the container is put down on the hot asphalt, returned to the cart and the cheeses are released to continue on their way (which ‘of course' included additional roadblocks). Is it not possible for the owner of the cheeses to continue on his way without being preached at and educated: why did you try to move the cheeses in a car after you had been refused permission? This means that the refusal is also some kind of punishment for the fact that the man wanted the cheeses to reach their destination while they were still as fresh as possible.
The cheeses crossed and we went on to Beit Furiq.
A soldier comes over to us, asks if there is anything, and says: "Just don't take photos".
From time to time groups of people arrive from Beit Furiq and the inspections are quick.
Cars are checked alternately - first a car from the direction of Nablus and then a car from the direction of Beit Furiq. When the inspection process holds a car up an additional position is opened and the car coming from the other direction is inspected at the same time.
The identities of those coming from the direction of Nablus are checked meticulously. A car on its way to Beit Furiq contains two passengers apart from the driver. The soldier checking asks: "Who is Muiz? Get out." A young man gets out. "Your document is not right". Muiz tries to explain that he was allowed to cross yesterday. Even so, he is refused and he and the man with him return on foot in the direction of Nablus. The driver continues on to Beit Furiq.
We left Beit Furiq.
There are seven cars from the north.
For the information of those among us who eat organic food: there is a new sign by the village Tapuach: ‘Na'amah's Farm - organic agricultural area. Tapuach.