Beit Iba, Wed 31.10.07, Afternoon
At about 16.15 a terrible pressure of those leaving Nablus. 100s at the turnstiles and the humanitarian line. We try the power of the center and the DCO when we are desperate and our efforts are rewarded and assistant battalion commander comes to bring about order.
The entrance is blocked and there is a smell of grease and tar. Various cars are helping to build the checkpoint. There is a truck to pour out the tar which is then spread on the road and which helps to establish our control of the area. The various truck companies will enrich themselves from this work with the help of the Ministry of Defence. The checkpoint is having a face lift either for any journalists to come and see that things are not as bad as we make out or in anticipation of the Indianapolis convention. The taxis pass in the new lane some metres from the lane of those leaving Nablus. Has their safety been taken into consideration?
6 soldiers check cars entering Nablus and for the most part have no work. 2 those leaving.
A car with the Neutrogena sign on it goes into Nablus maybe so as to help those whose faces receive all the dust of the checkpoint.
A detainee is sent to the enclosure.
The shift is changing.
One of the Ecumenical workers turns to a soldier asking a question. The commander says to him that he must not talk to her and that he has nothing to say to her. Even if the soldier had been willing to help her before now he cannot do so.
Sarah asks Gal, the commander who has not yet finished his shift about the detainee. Gal says politely that the man had tried a couple of times to push in front of his friends and he, Gal, is not prepared to allow that. As to the second question about the dog being considered impure in the Christian religion he says that they know this and so do not allow the dog to touch a Koran. But what about other objects?
A man comes through and asks angrily why a doctor who has to come through each day to his work cannot pass in the humanitarian line.
The detainee is freed.
A man coming out says it took him two hours.
The functioning of the checkpoint which up to now has been comfortable now becomes tense and inefficient. We think there are about 200 people behind the turnstiles. The pressure and the pushing continues. Sarah phoned the centre to get them to phone the brigade for reinforcements.
The number of people increases and the soldiers check slowly. When we try to speak to the commander he says we are disturbing him. We suggest he uses some of the six soldiers checking cars and who are now standing practically with no work but the suggestion falls on deaf ears.
Sarah phones the DCO and explains the volatile situation and is asked to wait 10 minutes to deal with the problem and we wait impatiently not wanting to make too many calls but at 16.35 we phone again to Rodi a the DCO and he promises to deal with the problem immediately. In the meantime there are about 100 people in the humanitarian line. The width of the line is 50 metre and people are pushed in one behind the other. We feel the situation is out of control. This is besides about 150 other people waiting at the turnstiles.
As a result of our calls the assistant battalion commander and a captain arrives and sorts out the six soldiers who had been protecting the property of the contractors to help with checking those leaving Nablus. The assistant battalion commander does not try to sort out the lines but rather to bring about order with the soldiers. They spread out to the width of the line which is 50 metres and he stands together with them checking those passing through one by one. Within a few minutes the line decreases.
17.25 We leave.