afternoon

Dec-2-2003
|

I.K., T.R. and Sh.H.On our way to the Qalqiliya checkpoint we past through a new checkpoint in construction, which will replace the “fruit checkpoint” that was partly disassembled (a wall, a watchtower, and military buildings remained on the side of the road). The separation wall will probably pass through the new checkpoint, which is built on both sides of the current checkpoint.We arrived at the Qalqiliya checkpoint at 14:30 and found that the pass was indeed open to pedestrians and cars with Palestinian license plates, and probably as a result (and perhaps because of the upcoming rain) almost empty of Palestinians. Soldiers sparsely occupied the checkpoint. The checkpoint commander, Dror, who was polite and courteous, explained that only a sample of the passers were being checked. However, if a Palestinian was “sampled” he could still pay by harassment, loss of time and money, as was the case of A. Ab. F. from the village of Selfit. We saw him leaning on the side, and it turned out that he was “detained”. He told us that he was waiting for the soldiers to allow him to be on his way out of Qalqiliya, although he didn’t have an ID. He explained that he lost his ID, and that he reported before the Ariel police a few days ago. He had a note verifying this, and a telephone number of the investigator in the station, and another cellphone number of an investigator named “Shmulik”, that all could testify to the fact that the absence of an ID did not render him suspicious. The note he gave to the commander in order to clarify things, but the aforementioned refused and instead called the Tul Karem police and transfe! rred the matter into their hands. He told F. to wait until they arrived. F. claimed that the Palestinian Authority demands 400 Shekels for a new ID (!). Although we expressed surprised at the amount, he insisted, and added that he arrived at Qalqiliya because he heard that there he could receive an ID for free, but discovered that there he is charged for the same sum of money.Does anyone have an explanation for this story?We requested the note, and called the above mentioned Shmulik. After presenting before him the problem, Shmulik demanded that I identify whom I represent, “am I a volunteer for the soldiers, or for a left-wing organization”. Shmulik spoke to F. himself (I got the impression that they are related), and I passed the phone to the commander. The commander listened and then called somewhere, and released the detained man. We tried to clarify why the commander didn’t shorten the procedure and call “Shmulik” himself, and he explained that he only has a military phone line, and cannot call a cellular phone.At 15:45 we decided to investigate what was happening in the (ex)-checkpoint at the entrance to Ezon. We found that in the middle of the junction stood a police jeep facing the village entrance, with police inside, detaining automobiles going to the main road, and writing reports to drivers whose license isn’t valid, and\or aren’t wearing their seat belts. In one of the cars the driver and the passenger next to him were strapped, but the two passengers in the back received a 100 Shekel fine each. In conversation the policeman admitted that the daily police ambush was a result of “the opening of the Qalqiliya checkpoint”, and it’s purpose was to demonstrate governmental authority. It was also obvious that both sides were aware that a “cat and mouse” game was being played: immediately after the jeep drove off, cars drove out to the main road (probably without proper license). These apparently waited for the opportunity. We also learned that there might have been a ! similar situation in Jbara in the Ezon area: observers who were in a UN car leaving Ezon told us that the separation wall being built outside Ezon has a gate, and that this gate was open when they were there.