Huwwara, Thu 14.2.08, Afternoon
A very black Thursday. It was horrible. One of those days which gives birth to more and more suffering and humiliation. This is the day after the publication of the assassination of Imad Morniah, the commander of the Hizballah. This day has been turned into a day of closures, arrests, obstructions and detention by Israel. The soldiers have turned the Shomron into a series of detention camps where any passage from one to another is impossible. While the Israeli government is celebrating her "achievement" ...we will pay the price in the future...the Palestinians are paying the immediate price. In the atmosphere of hot alerts the feeling is that the army has decided to act in advance and show the Palestinians who will pay and to hint to them not to dare to join the terrorist activities which will follow. To our regret the car which we took had a problem and we did not get to the checkpoint of Tulkarm and so part of the report is based on phone calls which we received from Palestinians.
Limitations of movement.
-Men between the ages of 16-35 from Jenin, Tulkarm can not pass through the southern area of Zatara.
-Men of all ages cannot enter Nablus if they are not residents of the town or of the villages in the enclosure from about 16.30.
-The same restrictions for Ramallah (this from the DCO).
From the Palestinians and the DCO we learned that all the checkpoints which closed on Tulkarm are closed completely to any movement from 11.00 am.
The DCO says that they will open again about 16.00.
From telephone calls we heard that they only opened at midnight.
A taxi driver said that in the day time the army had invaded Anabta and arrested people.
The checkpoint on the road to Anabta Jenin a little before the village of Bizariyah is closed completely during the entire day ( as are those of Tulkarm). People who wanted to go back to Jenin could not do so and as the entrance to Nablus was also closed to them their way home was blocked and 100s were stuck at Bizariyah for hours in spite of the pouring rain and the strong winds.
The only checkpoints which were open as usual were those which dafke bordered on Israel and as usual we passed with no further checking.
2.45 The checkpoint on the road to Bruqin under the industrial area of Ariel was open.
2.50 Za'tara. 8 cars. Limitations of movement of men 16-35 from north Shomron. In the lot next to the checkpoint on a chair under an umbrella from which the rain poured down a young man was detained. He said he had a permit to be in the area but had forgotten it. Semadar asked the commander to translate and the latter showed a strong desire to free him quickly. But this did not help the suffering of the young man who waited until 18.00 to be freed. We phoned the centre and gave his details and story but the commander was obstinate in saying he had no permit. At the same time he gave the details of the young man through the communication device and the centre said that someone would be sent to fetch him. It happened that we had clothes which we had been given to pass on and so we gave him a thick sweater. At 15.45 we met A. from the DCO at Huwwara whom we had called for and he said that he had to go to the crossroads at Za'tara to free someone from Gaza. We nearly had a fit when we understood that the young men was still sitting there soaked to the skin.
The end of the story was that A. from the DCO got to the checkpoint at 17.45 and immediately freed him and it turned out that he did have a permit too but this had not been renewed. We were told that this would be fixed immediately and that this had been noted. The young man belongs to the Gatah who were taken out of Gaza when the Hamas had taken over there.
15.00 Semadar gets a phone call about what is happening in the area of Tulkarm. A rolling checkpoint in front of Birzatiyah. The place is after Anabta beyond the bend where there is a road going north to the village. The road crosses the village and joins the road 60 next to the village of Silat A-Zahar. After road 60 was closed this is the main road for people going to north Shomron and Jenin and to the villages north of Shave Shomron. The checkpoint has completely closed all movement north and south in the morning hours for long periods even until midnight.
At 15.00 we were told that 50 people were waiting on both sides, people who could not return home,.
15.45 Burin/Yizhar no checkpoint.
15.48 Checkpoint of Huwwara.
We cannot see the end of the line at the exit. The x-ray machine and dogtrainer are there but the dog only checks the baggage compartment. Most of the time we were there it rained. The first hours of the soldiers who had replaced those of Givati. We did not see anyone from the DCO in the area.
There is a pedestrian line of at least 100 people at the exit from Nablus and soon it spreads beyond the shed. 3 checking areas. Everything is taken out of the pockets and the usual clothing check but people do not have to raise their shirts. People say they have waited an hour. We cannot estimate how long this takes as at about 16.30 two soldiers starts to check those entering Nablus and anyone not from there or the surrounding villages cannot enter. This checking started not surprisingly when the number of people entering increased. Mostly people coming back from work at the end of the week. Almost immediately a line of 50 people was formed. The rain was merciful and stopped for a few minutes. The soldiers whose first day it was at the checking are under pressure and the whole time are trying to being about order and threatening to stop the line and shouting "Back Back." At one stage one of the soldiers tries to explain to the people why it is worthwhile for them to stand in line comparing the fact that he is also standing there in the rain and ignoring the fact that his clothing protects him from head to toe from getting wet. From his tone it is obvious that he is well meaning. More and more people come as is usual on a Thursday in the afternoon as people come back from the week of work or wanting to visit their families.
There is no place for the last in lilne and they of course press forward and the line turns into a mob. The soldiers go back little by little towards the turnstile. I am already on my third call to the centre to send someone from the DCO. Three soldiers shout to the people to go back and the commander frominside the shed lifts his rifle threatening to shoot into the air. Afterwards he goes to the line and starts pushing people in an attempt to form a line.
16.50 More soldiers arrive and A. from the DCO. He says he must go to the crossroads of Tapuach to free someone from Gaza and we are shocked to hear that the young man is still there. But A, decided to help release the pressure and only at 5.30 leaves. He had helped in truth to free the cars at the entrance to Nablus and had informed people in the line that anyone not from Nablus would not be able to enter. Now the commander comes back and pushed people to stand in two lines. Women are not checked. But a young man says he lives in a hired flat in Nablus and works in Ramallah. He is desperate. I ask A. from the DCO if Ramallah is also closed and he says the young man should go through Anabta, Bizariya to Jenin. But he has no one at Jenin. And the other two places are closed in any case. He is so confused that he does not even know how to get to Jenin, we do not know what happened to him We asked the centre if they could not help in this monstrous situation.
A young man goes to the commander and asks to be let through as he has diarrhea and cannot wait to get to a toilet but the commander is not convinced. He passes in 10 minutes when the checking is swifter. Even old people have to show their IDs to prove where they live.
This is collective punishment at its best.
Maybe hot alerts or the soldiers know by heart the numbers of those who are wanted for questioning or to show who is in power and to humiliate and oppress. The soldiers do not even check the faces of the people with the IDs.
16.20 - 17.10 20 minutes to check a bus while the passengers stand outside in the cold and rain and the IDs are collected and the dog checks the baggage compartment.
We receive a phone call about a detainee at Beit Iba whom the soldiers have beaten and handcuff saying that he had attacked them. A driver says that Anabta is completely closed since the morning and Zacharia says that 100s of people are stuck at Bizariya and cananoty get home. We decide with heavy hearts to leave Huwwarra and go to Beit Iba and Anabta.
On the road to Bruqin the engine fails and we cannot go on. The rain does not stop and we think of the 100s and 1000s stuck at the checkpoints. Nadim phones a towing truck and we get a taxi with Zacharia's help and are taken and from there Nadim's brother takes us to Kfar Saba.
We see that Jit is not manned and Azzun which has been under closure since Saturday. At the Eiliyahu crossing everything is as usual . Nothing is checked so where are the hot alerts?