Beit Iba, Jit, Thu 4.10.07, Afternoon
15:00 Beit Iba Checkpoint
15:00 - 15:18 - 16 vehicles in line to enter Nablus. The 16 th car passed after 18 minutes.
30-40 pedestrians in line at the checkpoint itself. In the hut for entry to Nablus a group of youngsters are sitting, having waited a long time for the bus in which they arrived to reach inspection.
There is a line of adult men and women. Those entering Nablus are also being checked. Three men are asked to wait for their ID check: "Get into the jora already," but before they can the IDs are returned and they leave after being duly humiliated.
Between 15:05 and 15:15, 90 pedestrians crossed the checkpoint (in other words, at rush periods like today, more than 500 people pass in an hour). The checks are continuous and people don't wait more than a few moments. From time to time a big group comes (perhaps off a bus) and then there is some pressure and sometimes an argument about place in line. The soldiers resolve the noise by shouts of irjah!
15:00 - 15:31 - ten or more vehicles in line out of Nablus. And five more in the humanitarian line. The tenth vehicle in the ordinary line passed after 31 minutes. Seems that the soldiers are taking care to alternate between the ordinary and humanitarian lines. The checking time in either direction is about a minute on average.
A truck driver with balloons of cooking gas wants to go to Qusin. The soldier throws his ID and permit back and says that he cannot pass. The driver picks up his documents from the ground and goes off to talk to the checkpoint commander: he is equipped with all the required permits, including entry to Nablus. He goes to the pedestrian checkpoint and waits long minutes until the commander, who is checking pedestrians in a side line, frees himself. By the time the driver returns to his vehicle, the soldier who had been at the checking station was relieved, and his replacement lets the truck pass immediately. In answer to my question, he says he does not understand why the driver did not pass immediately without an order from the checkpoint commander.
15:15 - a detainee is put in the pen. A man standing in the pedestrian line calls to me to ask that I go over to talk to him. I approach and try to start a conversation, but the checkpoint commander drives me back and calls the police. I phone the public relations officer of Central Command with the complaint that the checkpoint commander is preventing me from carrying out my role, even though I am not interfering, not speaking to the soldiers or to the commander.
15:28 - five vehicles waiting to enter Nablus, the last of which passes in six minutes. When we leave, there are 10 vehicles in the ordinary line coming out of Nablus and nine in the humanitarian line.
An older man who passed with his car asks the soldier at the checking station how late the checkpoint is open, so he can come back to Nablus. The soldier says: "Nine! One minute after nine prohibited!" To us he says that the checkpoint is open from 05:00 till 23:00, but cars till 22:00. "But so he won't be late I tell him earlier." We decide to check in the near future whether the checkpoint does indeed stay open for these hours.
15:45 - we leave to Huwwara, even though the detainee has not yet been released. We can't talk to him because the commander prevents us from approaching.
Small consolations - the army has done something to prevent mud erosion by spreading a net on the slope under the lookout tower.
16:00 - Jit Checkpoint is not manned.