Beit Iba, Thu 3.1.08, Afternoon
Beit Iba 1500- 1640
The Beit Iba checkpoint is practically empty. It is a partially rainy day but nothing like the rain we saw here 2 weeks ago when the checkpoint was so busy. It isn’t the weather that’s stopping people from going out. Last night there was an Israeli military maneuver in Nablus. We are told by a friend of Smadar who lives in Nablus that the people of Refidia, Balatah and Kasavah are not allowed to leave their homes. There is a curfew. Other parts of the city are not under curfew but banks are closed and most taxi drivers have decided not to work in sympathy with those who are not allowed to leave their homes.
We arrive at Beit Iba at 15:00. Eleven vehicles are on line to Nablus, five vehicles are on line from Nablus and there are very few pedestrians. Second Lieutenant Jonaton is the commanding officer. Two vehicle checking booths are working with two soldiers in each one. There is a booth for incoming vehicles and another one for out going vehicles.
There are 2 women Military Police checking the pedestrians coming from Nablus. A soldier is checking the line of women and men over 45. We are told by the commander that when there are a lot of people the age of men allowed on this line drops to 35. There is another very tall soldier walking around who knows Arabic and is called when there is a need for translation. There is also a MP who is in charge of the other MPs and he too moves around keeping an eye on things.
Most of the time the pedestrians to Nablus are checked by the same soldier who is checking the line of pedestrians leaving Nablus. Later on in the shift when it seems that workers are returning home, there is a special booth opened for the incoming pedestrians to be checked.
15:02 -15:11 A truck that wants to enter Nablus is forced to turn around and go back after being held up for 9 minutes. We are told he doesn’t have a permit. The vehicle from Nablus that was 5th and last on line at 15:00, passes through at 15:11.
15:21 The 11th and last vehicle on line to Nablus when we arrived at 15:00 passes through the checkpoint.
15:27 Smadar meets with some people from Nablus. There is a father and son. The son had been shot in the eye by Israeli soldiers a number of years ago. He now has a glass eye. The man complained that when he wanted to get a permit to be able to drive his car into Nablus, the Israeli DCO had said to him, “What do we have to gain from giving you a permit.”
15:30 There are 3 vehicles on line to Nablus and 6 cars on line to Nablus. There are just a couple of pedestrians. Another vehicle is turned back from entering Nablus. The soldier tells me that the driver has no permit. The driver calls to me and shows me his permit. The permit just expired but because everything including the DCO is closed in Nablus, he can not renew it. He asks me for the number of the Israeli DCO.
Moran complains to Commander Jonaton that one of the MP women is verbally abusive to the Palestinians. This MP has just accused a Palestinian of cursing and has detained him. Commander Jonaton goes to the MP and tells her “Don’t detain anyone without asking my permission,” and releases the detained man.
Later when we complain to the person in charge of the MPs of her constant shouting, he supports the MP by saying that she keeps trying to explain things to the pedestrians and when they don’t get it she starts shouting. Moran points out that the other MP does not lose patience so one can’t really blame the situation.
16:00 Three young men entering Nablus have to wait about 5 minutes while the soldier takes their IDs into the main checking booth. While the soldier is checking the IDs all the other pedestrians entering Nablus go in freely.
16:08 Two vehicles to Nablus, one from Nablus and 5 pedestrians on line.
16:18 another vehicle told to turn around and not enter Nablus.
There are 3 vehicles on line to Nablus. It takes 5 minutes for the last vehicle to pass through. There is one vehicle being checked and one waiting leaving Nablus. The one waiting doesn’t pass through until 16:25 (7 minutes). Some of the vehicles leaving Nablus take as long as 6 minutes to be checked. One car that was carrying paint cans in the trunk had to open every one of the paint cans.
16:30 Smadar hears a soldier tell a man from Deir Sharaf that if the children of the village don’t stop throwing stones at the soldiers, the soldiers are going to shoot them.
16:35 A young woman who has her face totally covered is asked to step into the side cubicle so that the MP woman can check if her face matches her ID. The young woman panics when the MP takes her inside and she refuses to be checked.
The soldier who speaks Arabic tries to calm her. The young woman’s mother comes over and goes in with the young woman. The incident ends quietly.
16:40 We leave.
16:55 The Jit checkpoint is not manned.