'Anabta, Beit Iba, Fri 2.11.07, Morning

Observers: 
Ruthie K. and Tom S.
02/11/2007
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Morning
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Tulkarm, Qalqiliya


On the road to Beit Iba - a rolling checkpoint seemingly connected to the establishment of "humash".

Although the checkpoint's purpose is to monitor and control the movement of settlers into the west bank, it creates havoc in the lives of the Palestinians going about their daily business.

An "Egged" bus overtakes us by driving on the opposite lane, people are forced to leave their cabs and walk to the check-point. Some are trying to find alternative routes to avoid the long wait. The disastrous outcome of such attempts is becoming clear at the Beit-Iba check-point.

Suddenly traffic is flowing again and we are allowed to go through only to be stopped again at another check-point near the turn to "shave-shomron", the time is 7:50am.

We eventually arrive at Beit Iba's checkpoint. We walk on the newly built pedestrian's path to the check-point. The time is: 8:00am.

A crowd of about 40 people are squeezed next to the check-point. Without the concrete barriers (initially designed to allow for privacy for the Palestinian women being checked), which were destroyed during the recent building work, all Palestinians were under going security check-ups.

The new air conditioned cabin that was built recently to house the army constable isn't occupied. The Palestinians however are requested to queue in proximity to the mine with the associated dust making breathing difficult. There is no shade; people are queuing in the sun in the middle of the month of Ramadan.

Two are detained in the enclosed area Taxi drivers whose crime was shouting to attract clients.

The queue is gone and a new one of 10 people is beginning to form. There is no queue for cars at the entrance to Nablus. The time is 8:10am.A short queue at the exit (probably due to the reduced business activity due to the Ramadan). There are no sniffing dogs we haven't seen any for quiet a while.

A woman with a face cover is sent to be checked by a female constable in a private cabin. The door is not fully shut possibly because of the place being crowded.

From this point we shall report on what seemed to us as a deliberate abusive conduct of the young lieutenant at the check-point, rather then the chronological chain of events.

We were unable to file a complaint as the abuse was within the IDF's code of conduct. However, we thought there was no need to be abusive towards the Palestinian civilians. We were trying to communicate our views to the DCO representative, (a young battalion Commander, Jonathan), and with the IDF's Humanitarian Centre.

The Taxi Drivers

The check-point commander seemed to have a" soft spot" for taxi drivers.  During our watch he spent a long time on the other side of the check-point mediating between drivers who were arguing with each other. Then he detained them for long periods of time. One such driver told us he was kept there since 6:30am. This practice didn't seem to serve any security purpose but was part of the disciplinary attitude taken with the Palestinian population aiming to keep them quiet and obedient whilst struggling to make a living.

In the 1.5 hours we were watching the number of detaineesinfo-icon rose from 2 to 10/

The Taxies fromTulkarm

A taxi from Tulkarm was stopped by an army unit and brought to the check-point.

The driver and passengers claimed that they made a u turn when they saw the long queue in front of the "Humash" rolling check-point.(Needless to say they had already gone through one check-point at the exit from Tulkarm.

The soldiers accused them of trying to drive on a road that is forbidden for Palastinians. They took a very long time checking their ID cards and did not return the car keys and ID cards to their owners when finished.

The passengers tried to argue that the u turn was not a collective decision and since they haven't committed a crime they wanted to be let go. As a response the commander ordered them into the locked-up area that was heavily crowded. The women were locked in with the men.

We pointed out the religious decency issue. One female student demanded to be allowed to wait by the check-point or in the car. The officer warned her that if she will make any problems he would keep her detained for the whole day. There were threats of calling the police.

The detained taxi drivers offered to be left there for the whole day if the young terrified women would be let go. The officer in charge refused their offer and repeatedly shouted at us.

We were unable to help. The humanitarian center couldn't help and we suspected that our presence aggravates the check-point commander so we took telephone numbers from the students who were gracefully standing their ground and left the check-point at 9:30am.

We continued our communication with the humanitarian center and were told we couldn't return to the check-point as a curfew was declared in order to facilitate the movement of the settlers to "Humash".

At about 10am the taxi drivers were released wioth out the police being called. All but the proud student who unfortunately became the sole target of the officer's sadistic urges. After several calls to the humanitarian center she was released at 14:48. Minutes before the 3 hours dead-line after which we could have filed a complaint against the young lieutenant.