Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Wed 12.3.08, Afternoon

Ronit B., Daniela G. (reporting)

The Container

15:00: A long line of cars southbound, reaching the top of the hill, and plenty of vehicles waiting to go in the opposite direction. However, soon after our arrival the lines dwindled considerably and most cars were waived thru in both directions.
2 detaineesinfo-icon in the small penned area and they too are released within a few minutes of our arrival. When asked as to the reason for their detention, the BP says one of them did not have an ID, even though we are positive we saw him hand both of them their ID back before letting them go.

A woman down the road is speaking to one of the BP-men in what seems from afar to be quite an agitated manner. Eventually she is forcefully escorted to the pen. We are told that her son in law has done "something bad" and he is incarcerated in the locked booth next to the pen. She would not adhere to the orders to stay put in the car, therefore the punitive measure. At least they are now able to communicate. At a certain point they are both given a drink of water.

Every now and then cabs and cars are randomly stopped, the IDs of their passengers are taken to be checked. It usually takes a few minutes for the documents to be returned and they are free to continue. Vehicle's boots and hoods are also inspected at random.

!5:40: Pedestrians arrive in large groups, their IDs checked and their plastic bags opened and rummaged thru. In the meantime, a long queue of vehicles has accumulated because the driver of one of the cars has thrown his cigarette butt out of the car. He is ordered to get out and pick it up while being delivered an educational lecture about how the CP is to be kept clean. By the same educational token, another driver is instructed to reverse because he ventured closer to the checking point by some 5 meters. This too slows things down. All the while, the Palestinians in cars or on foot greet us warmly.

15:45: Some 50 pedestrians are crowded in front of the turnstile which has not been opened. When it does, they go thru quickly.

An older BP, seemingly in charge of the CP, is having a long discussion with the woman in the pen. Suddenly, both she and her son in law, the very same one who had done "something very bad" are set free. Why? "We are only following orders. The GSS tell us for how long to detain people, who and when to release."

A white car and its passengers have been waiting for over 20 minutes. The BP-men forbid us to talk to them, claiming they are still detainees and only after they have been "released" we can talk to them to our hearts content. We use sign language to try and warn to them not to throw cigarette butts out of the car.

16:00: The white detained car and its passengers, is joined by another. A new BP-man orders both cars to change their parking position. No obvious reason. 10 minutes later both cars are allowed to go on their way.

16:20: An ambulance from Ramallah transfers a patient into an ambulance from Bethlehem. The driver of one of the ambulances claims that the soldiers are helpful. There is again a long line of cars coming from Bethlehem waiting go thru.