Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 20.11.07, Morning
Translation: Maureen A.
Even when everything looks "fine", relaxed and moving along, in actuality, nothing is "fine". The routine of apartheid roads and checkpoints is hellish.
We thought that there would be a lot of checkpoints along the roads today, in light of the shooting near Punduk last night, but we were wrong.
7:45 - The Za'tara Junction (Tapuach)
Is backed up in both directions, but no more than usual; about 27 vehicles from the west and about 20 from Nablus. The security check is going quickly.
The Burin/YitzharJunction - the checkpoints in both directions are unmanned.
8:00 Beit Furik Junction -
There's a line of about 10 vehicles waiting to enter Nablus; only a few vehicles leaving the city.
Two soldiers are checking the vehicles, according to the usual procedure - the first vehicle in line moves forward, stops, waits for the soldier's signal before approaching, the soldiers check the papers and the vehicle continues on its way. The drivers report a wait time of about 10 minutes today. Yesterday, they say, the wait time was two hours.
As we walk towards the checkpoint, we are approached, as per usual lately, by the Checkpoint Commander, who reminds us of the white line, which we are not allowed to cross. It's important to point out that the white line keeps moving further and further away from the security check posts. (Does preventing us like this from approaching the station have any legal grounds?)
Only a few pedestrians approach the checkpoint; a vehicle arrives, the passengers get out and go through the checkpoint on foot.
8:40 Hawwara Checkpoint -
The usual hustle and bustle; a lot of taxi drivers shouting out where they're headed for.
There's a strong, cold wind, but the sky is still blue.
The checkpoint for those leaving Nablus is crowded; loads of people waiting to leave the city. There are two security-check posts open when we arrive. Esti T. is already here with guests from Boston who came to see, firsthand, what they had only heard about the checkpoints before.
At any given time, there are about 100 people waiting to leave Nablus; the check moves quickly, but it is thorough. All the men that go through the turnstile stop afterward in order to straighten their clothing, put things back in their pockets, put their jackets and belts back on.
The people who have gone through report a wait time of about an hour and a half. The soldiers go about their business and don't bother with us. This allows us to move closer, even across the white line.
There is a young man in the solitary confinement area. Once we have found T., the DCO representative, we learn that the young man arrived at the checkpoint carrying a knife, with the intention of killing someone and getting himself arrested.
There's a difficult story behind this: he was beaten at home; he went to work, where he was also beaten; he has nowhere to go, so he came to the checkpoint and wants to be arrested. The DCO representative, who doesn't believe his story, asked a Nablus resident who was nearby to speak to the boy; the boy sticks to his story.
The truth is that the soldiers didn't know what to do in this case. The boy was in the corner of the solitary confinement area, scared silly, didn't want to eat or drink anything. T., the DCO representative, promised that they would do what they could.
A 17-year-old girl is detained; there is a discrepancy between the appendix to her request and her ID, and the number on her birth certificate. After the security check she is allowed to return to Nablus until she straightens out her paperwork.
Every once in a while someone is put into the solitary confinement area for a body check. One young man enters the area; he enters with a soldier whose loaded rifle is pointed at him. Another soldier is waiting outside and the door to the solitary confinement area is locked. The young man gets through the security check successfully, and goes on his way.
A woman with a baby wrapped in a blanket in her arms and a little boy holding on to her from behind comes along. She is covered from head to foot, so the same procedure is used for her. A female soldier goes into the area with her, the soldier's loaded rifle pointed at the woman, the door is locked, another female soldier guards from outside. The woman also leaves and goes on her way.
At a certain point a humanitarian line is opened up, things start moving more quickly and people move through the checkpoint faster.
The sky gets cloudy, it will soon start raining. This will make impossible conditions even worse.
For some strange reason, very few people are headed for Nablus.
Vehicles - There are few vehicles entering or exiting the city. Passage is quick.
10:00 - We left; on the way back, we see the same thing as before - at the Za'tara Junction (Tapuach) there's a line of 20 cars in each direction.