Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 21.11.07, Morning
Translation: Maureen A.
General Comments: It is very very cold at Huwwara. In contrast to other Wednesday mornings during the past few months, when there have only been a few people who wanted to leave Nablus, there are at least 50 people waiting in line at any given moment. The security examiners are intolerably slow.
There are no vehicles coming from the west.
There are 44 vehicles from the north, with more and more approaching as we drive by the line. Two security-check stations are open at this hour.
We called A. at the IDF Humanitarian Centre and asked that they take some action to relieve the pressure.
7:27 The checkpoints at the 57/60 junction are unmanned in every direction. It's the same on our way back.
4 security-check stations are working. Even so, but for one man who reported waiting only 10 minutes, all the others we spoke to – or those who spoke to us of their own initiative – reported waiting an hour.
The x-ray machine, which wasn't working when we arrived, is in use again after a while. There's a table standing nearby.
7:45 We saw that one man had been detained in the solitary confinement area in the back. His friends were waiting for him in the shed. They said he'd been detained for between 30 – 60 minutes. Besides being their friend, they were dependent on him, since he was their foreman on the job they were headed for in Dir Balut. After a while he told them to go back home; there wouldn't be any work today. This is just another way to 'contribute' to the destabilization of the Palestinian economy.
From the things the detainee says to the soldiers, we understand that he is detained on a daily basis and he doesn't understand why. His brothers are in jail. One of the soldiers explains the situation to him. First of all, he tells him, he knows why he is detained and secondly, he should know that he is suffering because of his brothers.
Before we call the Humanitarian Centre, since there is no DCO at this hour, we try our luck with the Checkpoint Commander (A.). He is waiting for an answer concerning the detainee. In our presence, he tries to find out what is going on.
Then we see 4 veiled women led by a female soldier, who is also accompanied by a male soldier, being led to the security booth where women are checked. Each of the women is checked separately. When the security check is over, the order "Imshi!" is heard, emphasized by a movement of the hand. While the women are being checked, the detainee is released from the adjoining booth.
8:00 The x-ray machine starts to work.
There are at least 10 cars in the line leaving Nablus. They are all also being checked slowly…checking the car itself, searching through the passengers' personal belongings, having the men lift up their shirts, checking the passengers' pants cuffs…all this standing around takes about 10 minutes, according to our clock.
One of the female soldiers doing the security check must have a piece of gum, so the work stops until they find her some gum.
It's not only that the security checking activities are fragmented – a man approaches the turnstile; first he hands over his documents; then he has to step back and, according to the rules, go back to the female security examiner; he then has to go through the magnometer; the magnometer starts flashing red; ah – it's his belt; he takes off his belt and goes through again; the magnometer starts beeping; he removes his watch; goes through again; he forgot to take a few coins out of his pocket; the magnometer starts beeping again; and on and on till the green light flashes that he is 'clean'. Then he has to show the contents of his packages – however, at times the security checks stop for no clear reason. Yes, this time it's that the Checkpoint Commander is busy straightening out the line and imposing discipline on the people in it. It's no wonder that no small number of those leaving Nablus are very upset and express it out loud (not in too loud a voice, and definitely not near the soldiers).
8:10 We called the Humanitarian Centre about the detainee.
8:30 The DCO representative, T., arrives together with their new DCO, S. We inform them about the detainee.
8:35 There's another detainee.
9:00 The first detainee is released and goes on his way.
9:30 We left Huwwara and asked T., the DCO, to take care of the second detainee.
9:37 Beit Furik
A few pedestrians arrive from time to time.
There's one vehicle entering Nablus.
There's an officers' patrol from the battalion at the Checkpoint.
9:55 We leave Beit Furik
There are 20 cars leaving Nablus. None from the west.
The owner of the little refreshments stand has opened shop during the morning. It seems that the stand can be folded up and moved from place to place.