Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 27.1.08, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
Za'tara -Tapuach Junction Checkpoint
20 vehicles coming from Nablus, waiting to be checked.
On our way home, few vehicles, sniffer-dog and trainer present.
Huwwara Checkpoint 15:00
Checkpoint commander - second lieutenant
DCO representative - I., checking the special side line for women and the elderly throughout the shift.
3 long waiting lines, stretching beyond the shed, of Palestinian young men waiting to get back home after another day of studies or work, or perhaps on their way to a family visit - not really important why they wish to exit Nablus. Everyone should have be free to exercise their right to move and reach their destination in their own land. But the concrete shed in which they are forced to stand in the bitter cold over two hours, and the fences all around make the paper blush even before the word "rights" is even written. This term does not exist in checkpoint-land. Not for Palestinians.
The last digits of ID numbers are yelled by the checking soldiers from one side of the checkpoint to the other: 9427 - clean! 6510 - clean! 6852 - read out the full number!
begins with 975 - clean! And so the "clean ones" pass one by one.
At 15:35 one of the MPwomen leaves one of the checking posts for a break, and the post is shut down for 17 minutes. The line which had already reached the end of the shed, now extends far beyond it.
Many students are crossing today. The second semester has started and new students have joined. They mutter that they'd rather stay overnight in Nablus. A student complains that he's marked as "bingo" and is detained at every single checkpoint. Is there anything you can do? he asks us.
A youngster exits the turnstiles holding his belt and coat, his shoes unlaced, his ID in its green cover totally torn. "A soldier did this to me" he says.
At the vehicle checking post exiting Nablus - 4 soldiers checking a single car at a time, throughout the shift. Why four? One is the sinffer-dog operator, one soldier securing, and two MPmen, having a pleasant time laughing, horsing around and playing with the dog. The Palestinians? Let them wait.
Two cars with Israeli license plates are checked one after the other by the Sniffer-dog. The passengers - 6 adults and 9 children/babies can hardly conceal their revulsion. After 15 minutes of vehicle check they take wet-wipes and try to clean their seats of the dog's drooling.
A minivan is checked for more than a quarter of an hour. One by one its passengers are called to get their IDs back from the woman soldier who uses the driver as translator.
2 cars are detained on the road side for having been caught driving on the forbidden road near Awarta. Released after about an hour.
17:10 - the waiting lines are slightly less crowded now. Everyone is very cold after the last rays of the afternoon sun disappear.
The MPwomen are still roaring at the passers-by and amongst themselves, "Come on, already!" "Hush, no talking!" and more of their familiar vulgarities.
After the DCO representative leaves, the side line is intermittently opened and closed, and even then only part of the waiters get through and it is rapidly closed again.
17:44 - we left.
16:30 - 17:05 The checkpoint is nearly empty. The few pedestrians who arrive cross quickly. Few vehicles wait and are rapidly checked. The passers-by report that "Today's good, but only today". There was an event with many colonists here this morning: they wished to get into Nablus, on a pilgrimage to Joseph's Tomb, the army refused them entry and Palestinians were delayed as the checkpoint was closed.