Nablus

Jun-17-2003
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08:15: In a small patch of shade, over
150 people were crowded together, waiting silently and restlessly
to be allowed through. Many, we heard, had been waiting since 06:00
AM, for important university exams (starting at 9 am, said a
student at 9:45 am), medical treatments, and jobs. Officially the
checkpoint opens only close to 8am. Only women were allowed
through, and even that at a rather slow pace, and with complete
disregard of whether they and their small children were accompanied
by their husbands, brothers etc, on the men's line. They were to
wait another 1-2 hours more, in the sun, for their male kin to join
them. On average the men waited between 1-2 hours after the opening
of the checkpoint. Ambulances and UN cars and lorries were let
through immediately and with no problems whatsoever. Soldier Y
treated the Palestinians very disrespectfully, as though he were
shouting at cattle. He was hostile to us, and kept telling us to
move away. Two Palestinian men, about 40 and 30 years old, had been
standing quietly alongside the barrier limiting the passage people
waiting to be checked, where they had been detained. Their papers
had been taken by the soldiers before we arrived. Suddenly Y, for
no apparent reason, shouted to the younger man to sit. The man
didn't want to. Y insisted again and again and again, finally
coming over to him to make him sit. The man refused, quietly but
angrily. Y. began shoving him more and more violently until he
protected himself with an arm raised to his own chest. Y physically
took hold of him, practically strangling him, and twisting his arms
on his back, while the man passively and stubbornly resisted, but
did nothing to protect himself otherwise. Soldier T. joined him,
after Y. started threatening to shoot, aiming his gun at the man's
leg. We were trying to calm them down, but seeing this was
hopeless, we took photos ( in spite of the soldiers' threats). A
settler joined to photograph US, shouting to the soldier
"shoot him, shoot him go ahead". Y handcuffed the guy and
and made him sit. Why were they were detained? They weren't
standing in line the way the soldiers wanted them to. We called and
left messages left and right – no one answered. A man and woman
with a month old sick babyinfo-icon asked to be let through to the Nablus
hospital. The man was denied entrance, but his helpless looking
wife has no access to the bank and they would need money - nothing
convinced the soldiers. Another couple with a sick child - same
story. Later, when no other people were let through, the two
couples with babies were finally allowed to go. Then another
officer arrived, repeating Y's previous order to us to move. This
officer was E. from the civilian authority, who we know makes an
earnest effort to behave humanely. We told him what had happened,
and he told the soldiers to check his id and let him go. He started
to divide people into sub groups (teachers, students, doctors),
letting them through quickly, as well as letting all the women pass
through very quickly indeed. E. let us approach him on behalf of
several other people, with different problems- health,
wives/husbands waiting on the other side of the checkpoint , and he
let them through. He instructed the soldiers to make an effort to
let the people go through as quickly as possible, and this an
effect, even after he had already left. It was depressing,
arbitrary and hopeless.