Beit Iba, Jit, Qalqiliya, Thu 20.12.07, Afternoon
Today is Celebration of the Sacrifice, an important Muslim holiday. The commanding officer tells me," It is their Pesach." From what I understand it is the holiday that commemorates the time when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac in order to show his love and obedience to G-d.
It is pouring rain, torrents of water. An actual little river is filling the pedestrian walk way with filthy water.
The checkpoint is crowded with people dressed for the holidays with their high heels and dress shoes trying to step gingerly through the puddles holding their pant's legs and dresses up, older people with canes trying to find a dry spot of earth for a stable hold, young children and toddlers stepping knee deep in the river or being pulled up by an adult in the air while hanging precariously over the water. All this trying to avoid puddles is done while struggling to hold on to all the bags and parcels they are carrying.
"What do you expect me to do?" asks Ram, the person who answers the phone at the DCO office when we call to complain about the situation and request that some one put planks over the waterways that have developed. "Do you want me to come and lie down in the puddles so they can walk over me?" The attempts that we made also failed. We dragged boards over from the junk pile on the south side of the checkpoint but they were too little too late. Smadar called a friend of hers from Nablus and he sent wooden platforms over on a donkey wagon. These were also inadequate.
And what about the lovely newly renovated check point with its roofs to protect soldiers and Palestinians alike from the rain, sleet, sun and snow. The roofed section is just part of the larger unprotected area one must pass through from the point of transportation on one side of the checkpoint to the point on the other. In addition the passageway, designated for those coming into Nablus, is just where the roof ends so not only is there no protection there, there are extra streams of water running down from the roof itself.
There was a continual line of about 12 to 16 vehicles from Nablus at the checkpoint. At 14:49 the 16th vehicle on line took until 15:42 (53 minutes) to pass through the checkpoint. One of the factors that slowed down the line was a bus that for some reason it took 16 minutes to check before it was allowed to pass through (15:06 – 15:22). At 16:02 the 7 th vehicle on the regular line of traffic (there were 6 vehicles on the humanitarian line as well) passed through the check point at 16:25.
The vehicle traffic to Nablus was light.
There was constant line of 60 to 100 pedestrians from Nablus. There were 2 lines for young men, and a line for families and older people. There was also a constant flow of pedestrians to Nablus but they were not being checked. The commanding officer (Lieutenant Yaakov) who has been here for the last month says that pedestrians coming into Nablus are not checked on a regular basis, only when there is a special order. This is a change in policy since I was last at Beit Iba six weeks ago. At that time, pedestrians to Nablus were checked rather regularly. Occasionally the check was random or just young men or pedestrians who had packages would be checked.
The commanding officer was willing to have us move around the checkpoint freely and he was helpful in solving problems. When other soldiers did not allow a child accompanied by an uncle or brother without his parents pass through the checkpoint, he took the responsibility and allowed it.
A driver who had a Palestinian General in the car was stopped. The General had two weapons in his possession but he had a permit for them. Lieutenant Yaakov politely, quietly, and with respect asked that they move off to the side while he checked all their papers. After he checked with his "higher ups" and was given the okay, he let them pass and apologized for the inconvenience.
One of the Military Police women demanded that pedestrians who were under the roof waiting for the downpour to subside should move away from the CP ("Lachu m'po, Lachu!"). When Smadar protested the MP said that Smadar shouldn't try to interfere in her job. Smadar insisted that as long as the heavy rain continued, they were not to be told to leave.
When we left at 16:50 there was still a long line of pedestrian and vehicle traffic coming from Nablus.
17: 05 Jit – Jit was not manned at that time.
17:30 Qalqilyia – No line formed coming out of the city and there was a short line going in.