Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 12.11.07, Afternoon
Translation: Maureen A.
13:35 - Zeita The entrance road is blocked by huge concrete blocks.
13:40 - Za'atar (Tapuach)
We counted 4 vehicles coming from the east, 12 from the south. The checkpoint commander tells us that there are no passage restrictions, there are warnings, but he doesn't want to "tell a civilian" exactly what they are. There are taxi passengers waiting for a security check of their parcels. The small magnometer isn't there; it takes time to find it. Their parcels are checked thoroughly. 10 passengers are waiting for a bus to be checked. The security check is going very slowly - sun, cola, smiles. The soldiers are enjoying themselves, so they're not in a hurry. The bus' luggage compartment is checked. A suitcase is opened; it contains underwear and socks. The checkpoint commander goes through them with both his hands. "Yaalla Sayara", he finally says, unwillingly, and returns the ID's to their owners.
14:00 - Burin
There's a checkpoint for those coming from Jit. 3 cars are waiting. At 16:00 the checkpoint was unmanned.
14:10 - Beit Furik
There's a new, freshly drawn white line drawn at the very beginning of the checkpoint, just where the concrete structure begins, through which those going to Nablus have to pass. The checkpoint comes to a stand-still when we arrive. "That's an order from the Brigade Commander, since Thursday," the checkpoint commander shouts. We moved away and called H., the DCO Commander. He tells us to stand behind the line. One of R.'s friends told us "R. would like the woman in charge from among us to call him" (what if none of us is 'in charge'?). We also call our checkpoint team.
We saw him (during the short time we were inside the checkpoint); we were told that he was sent back to Nablus. The pedestrian traffic in both directions is normal for the hour.
A Border Police jeep pulls up to one of the drivers standing at the entrance to the city. The soldiers check the driver's ID and check the vehicle, all this before he even reached the checkpoint passage point. While he was waiting for his turn, the driver had put things in order, just before the soldiers messed things up again.
When we arrived, there was a 16-year-old minor who had been held in solitary confinement for an hour and a quarter. He doesn't have an ID. We called the IDF Humanitarian Centre. About 10 minutes later a soldier goes to let the young man out.
The DCO representative, R., tells the soldier that the minor is waiting for a family member; he warns the soldier that if the minor is released, he will "infiltrate, and you are creating a problem". The young man is released and continues on his way; he's not returned to Nablus.
The three lines aren't long. The waiting time is about half an hour, according to three men we speak to. "Today the checkpoint is good," some students tell us. The men have to remove their belts before they pass through, under the metal detector; some have to lift their shirts and turn around; a small metal detector is passed over their bodies, they have to stretch their arms out to their sides; all this is in addition to the regular metal detector. Bags are checked, ID's are checked. Some of the men must take their bags over to the x-ray vehicle on the other side of the checkpoint. Older men and women are in a separate line and pass through the small side entrance.
There are new soldiers stationed here - from the Givati Brigade - and the checkpoint now has purple flags on it. They are not fighting for "a clean area" on the side that is farther from Nablus. The men stop here, straighten their clothing, return things to their bags. The women are allowed to wait for their husbands or sons who are coming through the regular lines, the slower lines. There is even a chair here; some of the women even use it. As a rule, the checkpoint is relatively relaxed.
Vehicle traffic - ID's and permits are being checked on vehicles entering Nablus. Passage is quick, there are no traffic jams. An ambulance, with its siren blaring, is stopped for a moment, in order to check its documents. I must mention that it was on its way to Nablus, not into the "legitimate" state of Israel.
The traffic heading out of Nablus is being checked in the familiar way (the driver approaches the checkpoint by himself, the passengers continue on foot. The vehicle is checked, the passengers - carrying their bags - are sent over to the x-ray vehicle; after the passengers' ID's have been checked, they are allowed to continue on their way.) Riva and Noa measured the length of time it took to undergo a vehicle check: for a big cab it took 10 minutes; for a small cab, 3 minutes; neither of these measurements took into account the time the cab spent waiting in line for its turn to be checked.
Sights from the checkpoint - a month-old baby, wrapped in a blanket; the first boy after 4 girls, his uncle tells us. Students, books in hand, on their way home, stop to talk to us for a minute. An older woman, tired, sits down heavily on the chair, asks for some water.
16:50 - Za'tar (Tapuach)
The checkpoint is empty from the south, we counted 25 vehicles waiting from the east.