'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Jubara (Kafriat), Sun 24.2.08, Afternoon
A queue of cars stretches well beyond the junction. In the area there is a police car and the policemen are in the midst of inspecting of a Palestinian car. Cab drivers tell us that the police has been there for about two hours. The policeman stands above the car and waves a wooden baton. These policemen are using the presence of many vehicles in the area of the checkpoint in order to do their inspections. We should remember that this is the Israeli police: the Palestininan are under the authority of both the army and the Israeli police, which of course does not provide the support system that a police force is meant to provide to citizens. This fact was accentuated by the words of one of the policemen who said to the gathering crowd: 'Yalla go away! Everyone to his work, apart from the the women of Watch who may remain.'
In the car there are three youths. The inspection takes a long time. The policemen check on their radio the numberplate and ID numbers of the youths. They ask to examine the boot of the car. When their request is not granted they disassemble the back seat of the car for the inspection. It appears that among others they are looking for arms and drugs. At the end of the inspection it turns out that the the baton belongs to one of the youths. He would not be able to keep it. So that he understands it well the policeman gives him the baton and tells him to throw it 'far far away', in the direction of the bushes, in his presence.
There are more than 20 cars in the the queue towards Tulkarm, and many more than that in the exit. We cannot distinguish the end of the queue from where we are standing.
The cars towards Tulkarm are barely inspected, but several Israeli vehicles are refused entrance. One of the drivers who has been denied permission, drives a blue transit van with a sofa tied on its roof, and another youth has a sofa inside the van. That is why he is refused entrance. According to the checkpoint commander and the DCO representative you may only take commercial goods into Nablus with a permit. The man insists that these are not commercial goods but second hand furniture (and indeed it is obvious they are old) that they are trying to pass onto their relatives in Tulkarm ( they themselves are from Acre). Even after lengthy pleadings the soldiers refuse him entrance. When I ask them how do they define 'commercial goods' or a commercial quantity, they cannot explain in a satisfactory logical way, the difference between the man's cellular phone for example, and the old sofa on the roof of his van.
16:55 The policecar departs.
17:03 During the change of shifts we also depart.
The gate that up till last week was open, is now double locked and a soldier arrives to unlock it. From now on that is how it will be , he says.
17:16 Ar-Ras No one at the guard tower but the phone there is ringing and ringing. There is a new check post on the left. It is painted white. Most of the cars are not inspected. A lorry arrives and on it three ewes and three lambs. This is the vehicle the soldiers choose to inspect. This is in order to gather around the animals and giggle. They do not do any further inspections. No awaiting vehicles.
17:35 We depart.