Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 11.11.07, Morning

Edna L., Ditzah Y. (Reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translation: Rachel B.


It is the memorial day for Arafat. 150 buses are supposed to arrive for the memorial service in Ramallah. 
For some of them at least, and for the people coming from the northern area of the West Bank to Ramallah for work or other reasons, it will be a  torturous journey.

Ariel Junction; 7:30 AM

A Palestinian leading a donkey  loaded with hay and plastic jugs, coming from the east side of Ariel.  For some reason the soldiers stationed there prevent him from going through.

Za'tra Checkpoint; 7:40 AM

There are about 20 cars waiting at the approach from west to east.  A few cars are waiting at the north-south direction.  A bus is inspected.  The passengers who had gotten off the bus say that they have already been waiting there for a half hour.

7:50 AM - The bus is released and a second bus arrives and stops for inspection.  The passengers are made to get off the bus and place their luggage at a distance from where they stand.  The soldiers inspect all the luggage manually while the Palestinians watch them rummage through their things.  They are furious and some of them unburden themselves of their anger to us.  They tell us that they had started their trip at 6:00 AM  and were checked at Huwwara and Yitzhar Junction.  At both previous checkpoints they were also required to get off the bus with all their luggage.  They say they spent a half an hour at Huwwara and a half an hour at Yitzhar Junction.  One of the passengers says: "They have eradicates all traces of our humanity. When I get back home, what am I going to tell my children?  Should I tell them what I have been through? Then they'll hate you!"  When the soldiers finish their inspections of the luggage they start checking all the passengers with a metal detector.  The distance between Huwwara and Za'tra is 10 kilometers. 

Within 10 kilometers these passengers have been inspected 3 times!

We call the IDF Humanitarian Center regarding these repeated inspections of the buses. 
A. from the Humanitarian Center promises to look into it.

The line for people heading south is growing longer.  A taxi that according to the soldiers " cut in line" is forced to return to the back of the line. Another taxi transporting female teachers is accused of cutting in line as well.  The driver begs the soldiers {to be lenient with him} and promises not to do it again.  It's painful to watch the driver pleading with the soldiers who are half his age.  The pleading seems to  work and he "only" has to wait in the parking lot until the soldiers decide that he has "served his time."

8:20 AM - A taxi arrives transporting a sick girl to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. She is not feeling well.  The passengers' ID cards are taken for inspection and the driver asks us to expedite the process. 
We approach the checking position. At that moment a female settler passes through the checkpoint with the usual motto: "You are interfering with the soldiers {doing the duty}."  When she receives no reply from me, she addresses the soldier in a bossy tone: "She is interfering with you.  Tell her to go away."  The soldier answers that I am not in his way. She has no choice but to leave.

8:30 AM - The checkpoint commander speeds up the process of returning the ID cards to the taxi passengers with the sick girl (it took a while to find out where the ID cards are).  The taxi leaves the checkpoint, as does the taxi with the teachers.

8:35 AM - The bus is still there.  The last passengers board. (they spent 45 minutes waiting).  We leave the checkpoint.  On our way we count 85 vehicles waiting in line.  We lodge a complaint about this with the Humanitarian Center.

Burin/Yitzhar Junction; 8:40 AM

There are 2 buses and 2 taxis on location, being checked.  The passengers are outside the vehicles and say they have been waiting for a half an hour.  We approach the soldiers who are sitting in a Jeep and ask them why the passengers are being checked here again, after they had just been checked through at Huwwara and are due for another inspection at Za'tra. 
One of them explains to us that this is irrelevant.  They are from the Border Police , not the IDF. and their inspection is a "spot check."  The other one suggests sarcastically that is this bothers us, we can join the Palestinians.

9:10 AM - The inspection was completed and the Border Police left the area, as did we.

Beit Fureik; 9:20 AM

There are 8 cars waiting and a handful of pedestrians at the turnstiles.  We did not stay there. We left and went on.

Huwwara 9:30 AM

There are about 40 people at the checkpoint. Two positions are operating.  A bus is checked.  A beigele (large soft pretzel) seller tells us that yesterday the soldiers beat him up and today he was forbidden to sell his wares.  Later on in our shift he talks to the checkpoint commander for a long time.  At this point, he says, he does not need us to intervene.

10:20 AM -
A thirds position is opened.

10:25 AM -
Captain T. arrives with the representative of the District Coordination Office.  We talk to him to protest the repeated inspections.  He claims that they have coordinated with the Za'tra checkpoint not to repeat the inspections conducted at Huwwara.  He calls over there and asks why they are repeating the inspections.  At the Za'tra checkpoint they tell him that "it's OK."

A settler arrives and carries on at the checkpoint as if he is at home.  Of course, there are no "red lines" (i.e. a white painted line) for him. He chums around with the soldiers.  We hear him talking about cookies to be delivered to the soldiers this Friday, or maybe the following Friday.  He glances in our direction and leaves.

10:40 A -
We leave the checkpoint.

Za'tra;11:20 AM

There are 17 vehicles in line approaching from the south.  There is a bus in the line.  We approach the soldiers and ask why the bus is waiting in the line {with all the other vehicles} since T, the District Coordination Office Commander, had instructed them not to detain the buses going to Ramallah that had already been checked at Huwwara.  The answer is that 99% of the buses arriving at this hour are not going to Ramallah. When I say that he can ask the bus driver where he is going, he does not respond. 
We wait and then the bus is directed to the bus inspection area and it turns out that it is heading to Ramallah and was, indeed, already inspected at Huwwara.  Unfortunately, we do not have T.'s phone number and therefore cannot call him, so we call the District Coordination Office.  They promise - how predictable - to look into it.  We also call Naomi who lodges a complaint with the Deputy Security Office staff.

11:20 AM - We leave the area, silenced.

Our tremendous frustration raises questions again about the reasons for this policy towards the Palestinians and sharpens the conclusions I have already come to:

  1. {And this is the least grave conclusion, and it's a pretty bad one...} Those who determine the policies have no idea what is happening on the ground.
  2. Those who determine the policies have no long-term plan and are not aware of the enormous damage due to be visited on us from the explosion of the volcano we are creating within the hearts of the Palestinians by treating them this way.
  3. This conclusion is so disturbing it is hard to put it into words and on paper: Those who determine the policies want an explosion, want terrorist attacks, in order to prove we have no partner {for negotiations and peace}.