Beit Iba, Jit, Sun 13.1.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Alix W., Susan L (reporting)
13/01/2008
|
Afternoon

Summary

In today's Haaretz, Akiva Eldar wrote "a story about another world-
renowned statesman whose good intentions are being shattered in
collisions with barriers - psychological barriers and barriers of
suspicion, mistrust and bureaucracy that take shape on the ground at
hundreds of checkpoints." "Barring Blair" was the title of the
article, and "barring" all civility, decency as well as freedom of
movement, is what we witnessed today, other, of course, than the
continuing presence of Jewish settlers and their unremitting
expansion of settlement outposts, and one, in particular near
Kedumim.

14:45 Jit – open, no checkpoint

15:15 Beit Iba

The Humanitarian line is long, at least 20 older men, women and
children. The two turnstiles are filled with young men, at least 25
in each lane. As we come to the main part of the checkpoint, the
commander, J., introduces himself as does the soldier checking the
humanitarian line: "I'm the DCO representative" he tells us. J. asks
us not to stand in the middle of the checkpoint (the invisible white
line), tells we can ask what questions we want, but as he leaves soon
after this request, we take little notice. A lone detainee in the
compound being checked by the Shabak (General Security Service) we're
told.

Checking is slow and thorough. But the many large packages, often
containing new blankets for the freezing nights ahead, are not
checked as in weeks past. The DCO is lenient, or maybe a better word
is "reasonable" (including with men "under age" in the humanitarian
line)!

But in the central checking area, in the bitter cold, men coming from
Nablus are told to remove their jackets, their belts, but not all
men, not all belts, not with this commander, J., but things change
drastically with the change of shift at 15:30 and Y., who is by now
familiar to us, arrives.

15:30 -- there's an "interlude" and the men, mainly students,
returning from their first day at classes in the new semester, wait
and wait as checking ceases. No reason, just because there's
an "interval" in this regrettable theatrical scene.

Hardly any vehicles either to or from Nablus. But plenty of soldiers
in the vehicle checking area, including the inevitable dog soldier
and a very large dog.

As is usual with Y., his men seem to know not what to do. And what
they actually do is regrettable. A soldier takes over from the DCO
representative in the humanitarian line, and hardly has he entered
the booth than he begins shouting, in loud Hebrew, to the people. Y.
tells him to shut up, to no avail. He's clearly out of control, and
clearly loathes what he's doing and the luckless elderly men, women
and children he's doing it to. The DCO representative laments that,
although soldiers are told how to treat people (really), there are
some who simply can't be influenced.

15:50 -- Y. moves the soldier from the humanitarian line to checking
young men after they've come through turnstile number one. The DCO
representative seems to have no influence on this miserable spectacle
either. The soldier harasses the young men coming through, shouting
at them to remove mobile phones, jackets, etc., and when he's waiting
for to "attack" another, he shouts at people in the Humanitarian line
beside him, insisting on looking at IDs and, rather than
facilitating, providing yet more provocation.

16:15 -- the scene at this point at Beit Iba could not be worse from
a humanitarian, no, a human point of view. The large Alsatian is now
rummaging through a shiny SUV on the other side of the checkpoint,
one of the usual donkey carts, next to it, has had to turn out all
the new blue jeans piled into it, and, next to it, another donkey
cart loads and replaces jeans that have had to be removed a few
minutes earlier. Bags and briefcases are now checked one by one at
the table at the pedestrian checking area, under age men who try to
get into the Humanitarian line are sent back to go through the
turnstiles; Y., the commander now begins to shout (it seems his
soldier influences him rather than the other way around), and the DCO
representative takes time out to ask how this checkpoint could be
improved!! It seems he's writing a report, even wants to know when we
arrived. The only light at the end of this endless tunnel of horrors
is that Y. releases the young man from the detention
compound. "Halas?" (enough in Arabic) he asks incredulously of the
DCO representative as he makes his way to Deir Sharf. Halas, indeed!