Nablus

Nov-5-2003
|

E.T., A.G., D.B.

There was an announcement in the morning of
"further

easing of restrictions for Palestinians". (why

"further"? what was the previous easing?)

After yesterday's situation I decided to phone Munir,

the Deputy Battalion commander, and inform him that

i.d. cards had been thrown away (destroyed?), that

soldiers had refused to talk to us, and that the
water

tank had been empty. Munir referred me to Avi at the

Regional Command (Matak), who said he would

immediately make sure there was water. (In fact, he

didn't.) He was concerned about the destruction of
the

i.d.'s and asked me to show Ofer the photos. He

explained that the soldiers have been ordered not to

talk to us because our requests are very confusing
for

them, and we should speak to the commander.
(Nonsense,

the commander told me yesterday that they don't talk

to us because one of us "was impolite to me
yesterday

and insulted me.") He said that today the army
has

posted an older soldier, a major, named Ofer, and we

should speak to him about all matters.

13:20, Tapuah Junction: light traffic, moving freely.

Izhar Junction: no checkpoint, only 4 soldiers at the

junction with weapons drawn, who do not stop traffic.

S. Huwarra: There are several dozen vehicles waiting.

A man approached us. He is from Nablus and they
didn't

let him through. Most people were moving through. The

soldier wasn't willing to talk to us except to tell
us

to stay at the side of the road.

N. Huwarra: We decided to approach Ofer and ask for

his help. Traffic is light. Ofer is checking i.d.'s

calmly and in a businesslike way. He doesn't make

difficulties. On the whole the atmosphere is calm

except one soldier who shouts once in a while. He

shows off his strength, then turns to his friends and

laughs. Ofer is polite to us, said he'd speak with us

later when he was free--but that didn't happen.

At 14:00 a lot of people arrive. It's a mess. The
loud

soldier is yelling constantly, pushing people,

cursing. The women at the side of the hill slide down

because of him. It is crowded and everyone is tense.

The loud soldier yells that he'll use tear gas, runs

and gets one and waves it in the air. Some of the

people try to run away, some are indifferent. We run

to him and he says to us "Don't worry, I won't
throw

it." (This happens again later with another
soldier.)

Ofer is an island of sanity and calm in a huge mess.

He responds to all our requests but doesn't try to

keep the soldiers under control. The line keeps

moving and by 16:00 there are few people. Noam, a

sargant and apparently the commander of the

checkpoint, is constantly in power struggles with the

people. For half an hour he tried futilely to get

people into neat lines and didn't listen to our

requests to let the humanitarian through (like a
woman

with a babyinfo-icon with a cast who just got out of
hospital).

He said "I don't determine who's a humanitarian
case,

and nobody's going to tell me what to do."

The water tank is empty. He notified Ofer and phoned

Yuval from the Humanitarian Office, who promised, as

he did yesterday, to make sure there would be water.

15:00 Beit Furiq: There is no traffic toward Nablus

Coming out there is a line of 30 vehicles, moving.

Yuval the commander won't let us into the checkpoint

to observe. We inform him this is our task and we

can't see anything from outside, and we went in. He

didn't send us away but stopped talking to us. One

detainee is sitting on the side. When he got there a

soldier recognized him as someone who tried to go

around the checkpoint a month ago (!) and almost ran

over a soldier. (The Palestinian admits he tried to
go

around but says he saw no soldier--it was night
time.)

The soldier hit him in the face with the stock of his

gun. When we got there he had blood on his hands and

shirt and his eye was blackening. He doesn't want to

lodge a complaint, he just wants to go home to Beit

Furiq. I spoke to Amiti, an officer at Civil

Adminstration, and he admitted that the man was
beaten

("Not when I was there, I wouldn't have allowed

that.") He spoke to the detainee and then to the

commander. The officer was leaving and promised the

man would be released; we left but the next day we

phoned and he said he was released half an hour
later.

Izhar Junction, on the way back we saw they had

restored the checkpoint and the women's tent. There

were a few pedestrians and 20 vehicles that weren't

moving. When we pretended to phone the Matak the line

began to move. The wait was one hour. Suddenly a

soldier ran toward a car at the end of the line,

firing in the air above the heads of some pedestians.

The car was trying to turn around and go back.

Apparently he accepted their explanation because he

let them go.

Tapuah Junction 17:00. A line of 7 cars + 20

pedestrians. A wait of 20 minutes for the cars, more

for the pedestrians.