'Anabta, Azzun, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Mon 7.1.08, Morning

Observers: 
Frances T., Roni Sh. (reporting), Sivan (from Tel Aviv by train) Trans:Galia S
Jan-7-2008
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Morning

Eliyahu Passage

07:05 – A long line of workers at the entrance to Israel. The checks seem to be strict and the workers' bags are opened. A shorter line of Israeli cars that go through checks, so do their drivers.

Qalqiliya

07:10 – This morning there is very little traffic and it's not quite clear why. The soldiers at the checkpoint are the army's, not from the Border Police. They don't see the difference, neither are they willing to volunteer any additional information. A Palestinian who works in the greenhouse close to the checkpoint says there is no special activity in Qalqiliya to account for the scarce traffic. People have just had enough of the long lines and try to get to the checkpoint less.

Azzun

07:35 – The entries to Azzun seen from road 55 are open.

Anabta

10:10 – There is no line at the entrance to Tulkarm. Nine cars are at the exit from the city, but during our stay there, the line has gotten so long that its end cannot be seen. We have never seen such an inspection at the exit from Tulkarm: The cars must stop a long distance from the checkpoint. In fact, such a distance the soldier has to shout his instructions to be heard and not always does the driver hear the orders. All the passengers have to go out of the car, lift their shirts, turn around and bring their documents to the soldier. Than they have to go back to the car, drive to the checkpoint, get the documents back and drive away.

10:45 – Tens of cars are in line. Some cars and trucks with Israeli licence plates push into the line and block the passage. The Red Crescent cars are also most thoroughly checked. An ambulance that dares to come closer without permission is severely reprimanded, but the driver succeeds in convincing the checkpoint commander to let him pass without delay. After talking to Dalia from the IDF Humanitarian Center twice and her promises to look into the matter, the inspections have suddenly changed. That is, the cars are allowed to approach the checkpoint and the soldier peeks into the car, talks briefly to the driver and the car is allowed to drive away. The line is still very long and its end cannot be seen. It will take time to shorten it …  Meanwhile, cars enter (Israeli cars included) after a routine check of documents. All that time, one of the soldiers is in the watch-tower. The checkpoint commander checks cars that leave Tulkarm while another soldier covers for him with a pointed gun. A third soldier carries on alone the inspection of entering vehicles.

11:00 – Heavy-hearted, we leave Anabta. On the way to Jubara, we get a call from Dalia, from the Humanitarian Center. She reports that a full alert has been called at the exit from Tulkarm, which is the reason for the strict inspections. If this is true, leaving there only three soldiers is such irresponsibility.

11:05 – We pass the checkpoint in Jubara without any problems, but when we get to the flowers' Gate (the Schoolchildren's Gate), the soldiers stop us at the gate and instruct us to turn off the engine. Although we wonder, we do as we are told and explain that we are from Machsom Watch and wish to pass to Ar-Ras checkpoint, or Washington Farm, as they call it. We can also see from afar that there is a line of cars there coming from the direction of Qalqiliya and the Israeli police is there, too. In the middle of our explanations to the soldiers, an Israeli police jeep arrives. It stops in front of us because we block the passage and the policeman starts shouting at us threatening to give us a ticket. "What are you doing here, anyway? Who allowed you to come here? Get lost!!!" He continues shouting, threatening to arrest us if we don't go away at once. We try to explain to him most calmly that we block the traffic because the soldiers have ordered us to turn off the engine, but the policeman has simply gone berserk. The young soldiers are pretty shocked. To everyone's relief a military jeep with a calm captain in it arrives and he tells the policeman to leave. (We make sure not to be in his way and we move.) The captain suggests that we should go to Ar-Ras but not disturb the soldiers that are on red security alert, which we already know…

Ar-Ras

11:30 – The checkpoint commander introduces himself and asks us not to stand in the middle of the junction because of the alert and if we have questions, we should turn to him so as not to disturb the soldiers. He is pleasant and polite as are the inspections carried out strictly but quietly and without aggressiveness.

There are about 10 cars from the direction of Tulkarm and a long line whose end can't be seen from Qalqiliya. Documents are checked, people are not asked to leave the cars but each check takes time.

The residents of Jubara don't have to wait in line as most of them are known to the soldiers.

11:50 – We leave on our way home.