'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Jit, Jubara (Kafriat), Qalqiliya, Sun 17.2.08, Afternoon
Based on the scant number of cars at this checkpoint, we venture the assumption (later proved valid) that Israeli cars with permits (Israeli Palestinians) are not allowed into Tul Karem today.
A hitchhiker picked up just before entering the OPT claims that the sought after Palestinian work permits for Israel, have their price. Apparently the employer is made to pay a thousand shekels a month to Israeli authorities, a sum he often discounts from the worker's wages.
There is nothing in particular to foretell events which we are to witness later on in the day, at this very same place. There are four soldiers present. Three cars are waiting to be checked at the entrance to Tulkarm, and six waiting to exit. Israeli cars and blue ID holders are being ordered to turn back.
'There's a curfew today'
'Turn back, go on, turn back, where do you think you're going?'
The persons sitting in Palestinian cars are being asked whether there are any Palestinian Israelis on board.
Two of the soldiers sit in the shed to have their lunch. This causes all checking at one end to cease. After a while we ask the boss soldier why this must be so. In response he turns to check the neglected lane while the other soldier continues checking at the other side.
The children's gate- a young man awaits in front of the soldiers' shed. He is being detained because upon return from Israel, it was discovered he has no permit. In response to our inquiry we are told that the soldiers are waiting for a reply concerning him which will take 'as long as it has to, two days even'.
14:30 Ar- Ras.
Five cars are waiting to be checked from the direction of Tulkarm.
A soldier uses his rifle to bang vigorously at empty barrels, at the back of one car. He does this apparently to check if there are any explosives inside. The road leading away from the cp is so badly damaged, that cars and trucks have to drive with "one leg up"- one wheel on damaged road, the other in a pot hole. The soldiers' attitude is sovereign, they won't answer any questions and they don't care whether their orders are understood.
A truck load of cows passes, and the driver is ordered to stop just after the checkpoint. There, a soldier makes him get out of his truck, get between his cows and jump up and down, making the platform shake.
Two young men are being held for half an hour, no reason they say. The soldiers won't say at all.
All young men are being checked most carefully.
We leave at 14:48
15:01 the young man at the Children's Gate is still there. Together with him are two other detainees. I approach to speak, but the man will speak no more. Only his eyes are burning.
Mayhem. Dozens of cars stretching as far as the eye can see. It is apperant that the checkpoint is blocked for some reason. People are extremely agitated and standing outside their cars. Two soldiers standing cross section try to chase us away. They refuse to disclose the cause for this, but one of them will tell us later on that he had shot in the air before we came.
One of the men has 5000 chicks placed in carton boxes inside his car. He claims that if he's not let through within an hour, they will all die.
An elderly man tells us how three days ago a curfew was suddenly imposed and so dozens of Israeli Palestinians were stuck inside Tulkarm.
'We put mattresses for them inside the mosque, that was their five star accommodation', he jokes.
25 minutes after our arrival are informed by Tami, who has been making phone calls to the army, that the checkpoint is open. Indeed, the soldiers are beginning to let some cars through, very slowly. When we leave at 16:00 there is still a long line of cars, and tension is in the air.
No checkpoint at Jit.
We note many Army vehicles today on the roads of Palestine.
17:07 there are several settlers next to the pink house at Shvut Ami settlement. On the road we notice racist signs posted by them.
17:18 the entrance to Azzun is still blocked by dirt mounds. There is a military jeep and a soldier is speaking to a Palestinian.
17:23 Qalqilya- the checkpoint is manned by reserve troopers. This is the only entrance and exit to a city surrounded on all sides by a wall. The soldiers seem at ease; The Palestinians less so.
17:40 at the exit from Jubara we note two police jeeps and one police car, two ambulances, and two army jeeps at the bus stop. It doesn't even seem odd.