Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 31.1.08, Morning
Translation: Maureen A.
On the day after the Winograd Report, the army is working by the book: since it's snowing, the morning shift is not sent to Awarta from Yitamar and the ambulance needs to wait.
6:20 The border police are not doing security checks at the Shomron Gate.
Beyond Ariel both sides of the road are covered with snow; the higher we climb the snowier the road gets and we are careful to drive in the tracks made by cars before us.
The entrance to Marda is open; the blockade at Zeita continues.
6:45 The Za'tara / Tapuach Junction:
The checkpoint is empty of cars, both from the west and from the Huwwara direction.
There has been a change of the guard manning the checkpoint. Now it's reservists. The commanding officer, an engineering student, is missing his examinations at the university, but feels he's on a mission!
7:00 At the Yitzhar / Burin checkpoints no security check is done.
There are only a few taxis in the parking lot. Only a few pedestrians, going through the checkpoint quickly. There are no cars waiting from the west, no x-ray vehicle. The female soldiers from the canine unit are playing catch with the dogs, using snowballs (a picture will be sent separately). We convince the commander that since there are no cars waiting to go through the checkpoint, our presence is not interfering with the working of the checkpoint, so we are not sent to stand behind the white line.
The checkpoint is closed. At the same time we arrive, so does the DCO officer, who starts making phone calls to find out what's happening. There are lines of cars that want to enter and to leave. The "coffee house" is deserted. The pick-up truck belonging to the canine unit is standing off to the side of the checkpoint, waiting. Three bundled-up soldiers are peeping out of the pill-box. It turns out that they are the night shift, which hasn't been changed yet. They are not allowed to open the checkpoint. The DCO officer is still talking with his headquarters; we are talking to Brigade Headquarters; everyone says that they're working on it. We discover that the morning shift is at Yitamar, but because of the snow, the army isn't allowing them to travel (which didn't stop the DCO officer or the canine unit from coming).
With great trepidation, we slowly move up the mountain toward Yitamar, and despite the snowy road, my little Ford Focus does not slip and slide and we reach Beit Furik safely. An army vehicle is waiting there, which seems to have come there beforehand from Yitamar. We try to speak to the driver, but the checkpoint commander jumps all over us, shouting, "You are forbidden to stand here; you are forbidden to speak to the soldiers in the vehicle and destroy my authority."
The commander ("My name is Eliran Mor-Yosef; don't forget the dash.) has a scarf over his face and is extremely aggressive: "The very fact that you are here at the checkpoint ruins my day. Don't you dare take pictures. Show me what you photographed; erase the picture immediately or I will smash the camera over your nose; I will call in the police; I will say that you are inciting (?!); do you want me to handcuff you? etc."
Since there were very few people and very few vehicles (which were checked extra-carefully), we returned to Awarta.
The checkpoint is still closed. The DOC commander is hiding from the snow in the canine unit's pick-up truck. There's an ambulance waiting across from the checkpoint, which is soon joined by another ambulance, with its lights flashing. We call the brigade - they are working on it. We called the DOC commander, R., and he promised to speak to his representative at the checkpoint. I try to get the soldiers out of the pill-box; as usual, they are stricken with horror at the fact that I am climbing up the hill.
Finally a soldier comes out, with a key in his hand. Wonder of wonders: the checkpoint is opened, even though the soldiers for the morning shift have not yet arrived. After both ambulances have gone through, the brave soldiers continue, checking the trucks.
A long line of pedestrians is waiting in the cold in the hut. The soldiers have gone out for an unclear walk around the turnstile which serves those who are entering the city. After a while another line opens. There are practically no cars and the canine team members are warming themselves near the small heater in the cabin.
After a short break, it starts to snow lightly and rivers of ice form in the parking lot.
On our way back we see the pharmacist from Huwwara walking quickly through the snow and we give her a lift so she can open the pharmacy early. There is little activity in the town; schools are closed, as is the baklava shop, much to our dismay.
9:15 The Tapuach / Za'tara Junction - no line.
A little before the Shomron Gate, we look from the top of the hill: behind us it is snowing - the coastline is flooded with sunshine. In truth - two States for two peoples.