Atara, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Sat 20.10.07, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
There is a long queue of cars but, as only a few here and there are inspected, the crossing is quick. The big question, which returns over and over again when observing here, is what ‘security' or other consideration created the plan for installing another roadblock, in addition to the hundreds of others installed all over the West Bank, at the entrance to Ramallah!
For how long? An unknown hand has written on the wall by the lock-up. And, indeed, for how long?
The queue is very short - at times the roadblock is totally empty. Those crossing put it down to the olive picking season - is it really? The major change is that men do the physical inspection of men. All of the checkpoints are staffed by Military Policemen - perhaps the Military Policewomen have taken Saturday off?! A manual check is also made, from top to bottom, in addition to the use of electronic equipment to check people.
There is one computer at the roadblock - and from checkpoint to checkpoint I.D. numbers are shouted out to the only computerised position. "We don't have the money", of course. ‘Native-born time' (Amira Hess's expression) is not appropriate for the required expenditure to install another mobile computer and to reduce the humiliation of this worthless procedure. In spite of the swift crossing we hear a lot of curses from those coming and going - and it is easy to identify with them.
The very few vehicles cross into Nablus without hold ups, compared to the very slow crossing from Nablus southwards. The dog and the dog-handler "the most secret" are active and of course it is forbidden to photograph what they do "the secret security".
There is an explicit request from the drivers for the installation of toilets and an awning in the car park. To use the toilets on the north side of the roadblock requires re-crossing the roadblock - the men are able to find a solution but what about the women?
There is a young man, handcuffed and blindfolded, in the lock-up. We were unable to approach to find out details. He appeared to be suffering and, shortly after our arrival, a soldier went over to him and loosened the handcuffs a little. Many telephone calls to find out what is happening did not achieve anything - and when we left about an hour and a half later the young man was still in the lock-up. At 2:00 pm., the Centre claimed that he had been released - but as we know the information they have is not always correct. Without direct contact with the man it is impossible to find out anything.
There is a constant stream of cars and pedestrians in the direction of Nablus. The crossing is smooth. The soldiers refuse to speak to us and their behaviour towards the Palestinians is degrading.
Good news: Osama, the coffee vendor, has received an Identity Card and the ever-present threat of deportation has been lifted.