Beit Iba, Wed 23.1.08, Afternoon
14.35 Beit Iba. We come to the old-new checkpoint. "Do not step on the tap" is written on the water tank. I tried and did not succeed. Because to step on the tap one has to raise one’s leg to more than one meter and at my age I cannot do so. There are another 5 taps at the trough but none of them seem to be "the tap" . Even in the cowshed of Ginegar I saw no such trough but here it is for the welfare of the passersby in the framework of the innovations. The shed is half full. Bags are checked on the table with all the contents taken out one by one and then returned with what had been on the top now at the bottom. There are no undue occurrences and the line goes through efficiently even though it is hard to use such a word.
15.10 Two Palestinians are sent back from the humanitarian line because they are 37 years of age and only those of 45 and over are allowed to pass in this line. Yoni, the commander, comes to us and we ask him if this is so and he says that it depends, which is a good and average answer. We ask on what this depends and he says the pressure. We wonder what pressure this is because from where we are standing we see no pressure. But this word is used for all procedure of handling the checkpoint. IDs are checked here and sometimes parcels. 15.36 The commander leads some young men to the enclosure, very upright and more so than before. We think of the children's song "In the land of the dwarfs there is a commotion. The army has put on its uniform and goes to war and in the lead is the commander." We hear the DCO reporting that 6 men who tried to slip through have been detained. Now everyone knows and feels very heroic. Yoni says that they will remain there until 21.00 and not a minute less. The DCO representative says that he knows that these are students who want to save themselves time but this will teach them a lesson.
On the top of the hills we see citizens in a car on which is written "semadar" or something like that. They are coming towards the checkpoint. We are told that they are coming to put in intercoms. Because of the pressure they say they had to stop and will come tomorrow. They explain that this is to setup communication between the soldiers and the Palestinians. For example the soldier will ask for the ID through the intercom and the Palestinian will answer him through it. They said that they had put in such intercoms at other checkpoints.
16.00 The pressure increases and a soldier sends a man from the humanitarian line because of his age. An argument ensues and the soldier goes with the man to the commander so that the latter can deal with the problem. The Palestinian who is a nurse says that he passes through each morning and always through the humanitarian line. He says he is 36. We ask the commander to allow him to pass and Yoni takes him aside and asks him in future to go through the ordinary line but now he allows him to pass. Later we hear that doctors of all ages go through the humanitarian line.
16.10 Three more Palestinians who tried to slip through are brought in. We try to ease the punishment but again we hear " not a minute before 21.00." Rodi of the DCO promises that they will be freed at 17.30 and gives us his telephone. We ask why there are so many going through on a Wednesday and are told that students will in future be returning on Thursdays.
16.45 We leave.