Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 11.11.07, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
Heavy traffic Nablus bound for Nablus from Ramallah where many Palestinians took part in Arafat memorial events.
Sudden heavy rain seriously encumbered the long wait for checks in the endless queues, drenching passengers including small children and babies forced to stand in the downpour and wait until the military sniffer dog finished smearing mud on the taxi seat and drooling into their belongings.
14:55 - Tapuach Zaatara Jucntion Checkpoint
Empty of cars coming from the west. About10 cars coming from Nablus.
Yitzhar Huwwara Road Junctino Checkpoint - unmanned.
15:00 Huwwara Checkpoint
We asked a lieutenant looking very much like the commander in charge as soon as we arrived whether he was indeed the checkpoint commander (so we'd know who to seek when necessary...) and he answered us, his face devoid of any expression - that officer over there, T.
But T. - we know - is the DCO representative on duty...
At the end of our shift we found out that the clever lieutenant's name is E., and he was indeed the Checkpoint Commander.
Note his response was about 2 seconds after we arrived, unprovoked, before we even made our presence a fact. Delicate hostility. Under the radar screen.
The checkpoint bustles with Palestinians returning from Ramallah in numerous buses, let through relatively fast without much ado. The special side line for women moves rather fast too. 3 active checking posts and the usual full to bursting lines of men waiting, pressured and slow.
A raging young man comes out and says to us: "One get to start hating oneself after standing in those lines of theirs, for sheer nerves. Really!"
15:30 - Three young men in standard ultra-orthodox garb (Black suits, white shirts, black wide-brimmed Yeshiva boy hats) hang out at the checkpoint: take each other's pictures with the soldier checking vehicles and more soldiers near the shack, then enter the heart of the checkpoint compound where only soldiers are allowed, and feel very much at home, take pictures with soldiers at the side line gate for women and the elderly (!), many minutes until one of the soldiers orders them away.
16:00 - Rain begins to fall just as the X-ray truck retires and the army sniffer dog and its lady trainer take its place. The many cars usual for this time of day leaving the city now go through the standard dog checks withal the mud and drooling on seats and belongings involved.
The rain becomes a downpour, literally torrential, and the checks proceed as usual:
a taxi van lets out its passengers, including tiny children, out into the downpour about 20 meters from the checking soldier and dog. And they stand and stand and stand and stand and stand for ages far from any shelter, until signaled to board the vehicle and drive off.
A tiny, banal horror. Under the radar screen. Far from the view-finders of press cameras and television anchormen.
A fabrics merchant from Urif stands next to us in the shack and looks dismayed at his goods - a whole load of cloth in the porter's cart that has been waiting for half an hour in the pouring rain for the dog check. What kind of wares is that going to be.
A small moment. Under the radar screen.
17:00 Beit Furik checkpoint
A long waiting line of cars coming out of Nablus. Loud nervous soldiers. We stand behind the turnstiles, far from the checking post. Far from the soldiers. Still they approach us and announce unequivocally that until we move back behind the new white line painted fresh outside the checkpoint compound, they will not let anyone else through. We notified the army hotline about this, as well as our colleagues at home, and left.
Back to Huwwara - where people were still exiting the town. The rain was back to a drizzle. Less drama.
We note that DCO representative lieutenant T. was visibly present and active throughout our shift, friendly and accessible to people and helpful whenever he was called upon to solve problems.
We left past 17:30.
It was dark, rainy and depressing. Under the radar screen.