Beit Iba, Wed 31.10.07, Morning
- When the new installations are in operation at Beit Iba we are going to have a struggle concerning our freedom of movement at the checkpoint, which will be very limited.
- A military exercise caused a total closure of the checkpoint for 35 minutes.
- Checkpoint 408, next to Asira-a-Smalliyah was closed even for ambulances, which lengthen considerably the time they needed to get to the hospitals in Nablus.
- At 'Ain Bidan there hasn't been a checkpoint since Ramadan.
Beit Iba: 08:45 – 10:30
We met the battalion commander at the checkpoint, who was a major in rank. He explained how the checkpoint would operate once the construction is finished. The bottom line is that we will not be able to cross over beyond the new inspection station for those entering Nablus, and the detention area will not be accessible. That area will be, in his words, a 'sterile area' (he returned to this expression a number of times, as though it was a mantra of great power). We told him that this was not acceptable to us. The 'sterile area' was closed today for Palestinians, so they went through on the road. Those entering were not checked at all. The vehicles went through inspection at a area opposite that of the pedestrians.
Two detainees in the shed. According to the checkpoint commander they had stood in a forbidden place and did not obey his instructions. They had already been waiting for an hour as a punishment. A short time after we arrived, they were released.
A military exercise began under the leadership of the assistant brigade commander; all inspection ceased. This continued until 9:35. More and more pedestrians arrived at both sides of the checkpoint. Dozens waited impatiently. Every once in a while they approached the soldiers' station, and then a soldier came out with his weapon drawn towards them and shouted "get back!" It wasn't possible to count the vehicles on either side.
An adult woman, suffering from diabetes and having recently had an open heart operation, didn't feel well. She was allowed through, but not her daughter who was accompanying her; she waited in the detention shed. A soldier ran around looking for a cup so she could drink water from the soldiers' bottle. When the exercise was over, they let all the pedestrians through without inspection.
Untangling the traffic jam of the vehicles in both directions took much longer.
An hour and a quarter after life had been frozen at the checkpoint, the line coming from Nablus was finished. When we left, at 10:30, there were still 14 cars at the entrance to Nablus.
J'it Junction – 10:40
We saw a Hummer and soldiers at the checkpoint coming from Hawarra. We didn't stick around to see what they were doing there.
Mahmud Nasser, from Radio Nablus, reported that at 'Ain Bidan there had been no checkpoint since Ramadan. Checkpoint 408, at the exit from Asira a-Smalliyah, was closed to Palestinians who lived in the 10 surrounding villages, which was their shortest exit to Nablus, just a few kilometers. For many months now they have been forced to go by way of 'Ain Bidan, which lengthens there trip to about 20 kilometers. Until recently, they allowed ambulances to through this checkpoint. Now they put a metal arm there which does not allow any vehicle to pass through; even ambulances bringing sick people to the hospitals in Nablus are forced to travel the long way around. Is this what Barak meant by his promises about easing the passage at checkpoints?