Weekly Digest 28.10-3.11.07 | Machsomwatch
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Weekly Digest 28.10-3.11.07

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Thursday, 8 November, 2007
Bethlehem area
Wednesday AM, 31.10.07
Bethlehem CP, 06:35. 5 stations open, then a 6th. Lines are crowded and long. An Ecumenical volunteer says the CP opened at 05:15 but only one station. Later a second opened. By 07:05, the lines are considerably shortened. Two of the security men are civilians.
DCL Etzion 09:15. A 44 year old man tells us he worked as a painter in Jerusalem for 20 years. He was stopped today at the Bethlehem CP and summoned to appear at the Ezyon DCL for a GSS investigation next week. He came in today because he does not want to lose all those working days. They agreed to see him, but when we left he was still waiting.
The police window was closed. We saw no sign posted.


Wednesday PM,  31.10.07 
14:30 DCL Ezyon. The shed is empty. In the parking lot, sitting in his car, an elegantly dressed man introduces himself as the head of the lawyers' bar in Bethlehem. He is waiting for a permit to visit a friend in Hadassah hospital. Though he holds a green ID, he is confident that he will get it ("I know the people at the DCL"), but has been kept waiting since yesterday. He expresses surprise at our presence and our agenda, and seems reluctant when we ask whether he might cooperate with us on matters of mutual interest. What we do seems to him puny compared to the major injustice of the occupation itself. A simpler man emerges from the DCL, beaming. He got a magnetic card! We give him a ride to Al Nashash, from where he will continue home to Bethlehem.
Bethlehem CP, 15:30. 2 booths open, no lines. As lines begin to form, a third booth is opened. A civilian security man (looking very much like a uniformed soldier) goes about his business with a sour face, but with efficient control. The workers and the CP personnel cooperate in allowing the very few women to jump the queue and pass rapidly.

Nablus Area

Sunday, 28.10.07, PM
15:30, Beit Iba. We've never seen the line of vehicles. At the CP, we're immediately told that we have to stand by the white line, but there are so many people trying to go into Nablus, so many soldiers, and the checking is so laborious that it matters little where we stand. 2 soldiers at the checking table, but everything is looked at, and it's very, very slow.
Two detaineesinfo-icon, but they are in the compound for just two minutes.
At the vehicle checking area, the situation is dreadful. Many soldiers and one military policewoman make a bad situation worse by spending much of their time chatting, laughing and disregarding the traffic. The placement of the new vehicle checking post means that the soldiers are more distant, physically, from the oncoming traffic. They neither know nor care that the line stretches for 250 meters down the road.
16:45. We ask the drivers at the head of the line how long they've been waiting. The answers are all over the map, but the general consensus seems to be about 45 minutes.
16:55, Jit Junction. 31 vehicles waiting, coming from the Beit Iba direction, as this "permanent rolling" CP, one of the worst of its kind in the Occupied Territories, shows its stripes. Checking is laborious and slow.
17: 15, Qalqilya. No line, swiftly moving traffic, as well as pedestrians, pass the pumpkin-seed eating soldiers, who chat but let people through without harassment.
Monday, 29.10.07, AM
07.45, Beit Iba. The usual traffic jam. 15 cars waiting and nowhere for cars to pass; checking is random. No lines exiting Nablus. No pedestrian lines. Women and men over 35 are passed without a check.
09.55, Jit junction.
Empty at 07:40, it is now manned. 25 cars in line. A driver reports he has been waiting an hour (probably half an hour as per our checking). Soldiers joking among themselves, sending SMSs, and generally causing delays.
Tuesday, 30.10.07, AM
07:15--09:10, Beit Iba. Many vehicles are waiting to get into Nablus. A taxi driver tells us that he lives in Sebastia. After the closing of the notorious road no. 60 he and his friends used to drive to Beit Iba on side roads. The municipality of Sebastia paved a road, paid for by the inhabitants. Now the army demolished the road and blocked the main entrance with pit-holes and sand-mounds. We checked our map: to reach Beit Iba they must go north and back south to Beit Iba. According to him, it's about 25 km instead of 1.5 km. We suggested that the municipality contact the Association for Human Rights.
At the pedestrian checkpoint, a commotion such as we haven't seen for a long time. Hundreds of people crowd the small space, the (new) soldiers are busy conducting power-wars with the Palestinians, and most of time simply stop passing people, men women and even "humanitarians". Waiting time: two hours. We called the Humanitarian hotline five times, the DCL (District Coordination Office) twice. They assured us a DCL officer is on his way. Due to the condition of the checkpoint lines could not be formed. The commander and the soldiers kept yelling "Irjah Lawara" (move back) - the men tried to do so, moved a meter at a time, but the commander wasn't satisfied. One of the stops lasted 20 minutes.
Some pearls of wisdom: "I'll fuck him if he doesn't move back" (pointing his rifle). "As far as I'm concerned they can go back home". "Take off your pants" (in the middle of the line!). When the soldier saw the startled look of the man he took him aside. We don't know how far down the pants went. This was "random", not because of any particular suspicion.
At last the DCL lieutenant arrived, spoke with the commander and told everybody to pass without any checking.
Tulkarm Area
Sunday, 28.10.07, PM
14:00, Ar-Ras. Only three or four vehicles in line. The soldiers check everything, every truck thoroughly before letting it go southwards. As usual, no checking towards Tulkarm.
14:20, Jubara. Palestinian Israeli cars are checked thoroughly.
14:30, Anabta. Traffic towards Tulkarm moves at a rapid pace, so that in three
minutes there is no line at all. On the other hand, the line from Tulkarm already has 15 vehicles, and the soldiers seem in no hurry to beckon the first one forward.

14:35. A few minutes later, the lack of consistency manifested in this occupation is again made evident, as cars or trucks are randomly searched, the idea being, no doubt to "keep them off balance."

Monday, 29.10.07, AM
06.35, Qalqilya. The MP in charge argues with us about where we stand but eventually gives in. We stop a driver who advises us that it took him nearly 40 minutes to exit the town. There are random checks of young people exiting. Then chaos strikes. Frustrated drivers try to jump the queue, and a double line develops, then a triple one. Cars and buses entering Qalqilya cannot pass. Fortunately things somehow sort themselves. There is also a long line of about 12 cars entering.
08.45, Anabta. No lines; random checks of cars from Tulkarm.
09.20, Ar-Ras. Uneventful
Tuesday, 30.10.07, AM
06:30--06:50, Qalqilya. Israeli vehicles coming out of the city are checked very thoroughly. Palestinian cars pass freely. Entrance is fast. The policeman explains in a friendly way that the distinction between Israeli and Palestinian vehicles is for security's sake.
09:30--09:45, Anabta. Very few cars on both sides. From time to time short lines form on the exit side from the city while the soldiers, as they wont to do at this checkpoint, stop for a chat.
09:40--10:00, Jubara & Ar-Ras. Sparse traffic on the exit side from Tulkarm, hardly any vehicles entering the city.
Hebron Area
Sunday AM, 28.10.07, 06:00 - 10:15
Sansana- Meitar CP, 06:10. 30 workers queuing to pass into the checking area. Those emerging on the Israeli side remarked on the improvement in the speed of checking. This may be because last Sunday a worker suffered a heart attack while squashed in the enormous queue. He is still hospitalized. Today there were more soldiers at each of the 4 checking points, and no breaks in their work.
Route 60, 07:00 2 5-6 year old girls with satchels walking alone along route 60. The nearest school is 4 kms away at Dir Razek. All CPs on the road were open as usual. No soldiers in sight.
Tarpat (1929) CP. A detained schoolboy of about 16, who wanted to get to school on the Palestinian side of Hebron. The soldiers refused to tell us what the problem was. According to an international volunteer who was present, the boy was detained 20 ago. He saw released 15 minutes later.
Tombs of the Patriarchs, 08:30. One detainee. We couldn't find out how long he had been there. The CO was very hostile.The detainee signaled to us that he was afraid to speak to us. Another man arrived and was also detained. We started to telephone, and while we were talking, both the detainees were released.
Monday AM, 29.10.07
Tarqumiya, 0800. 3 buses carrying prisoners' families pass, another 3 are waiting and it’s unclear why. As soon as we ask, their checking is resumed -- thanks to us?
Between Tarqumiya & Idna, very little traffic.
Monday PM, 29.10.07, 13:00-18:00
Hebron. The town looks like a ghost town under siege. We walked along Pharmacy CP via Gross square towards Shuhada street. Hardly any Palestinians around. A few people crossed the CP’s with their groceries. One woman was not allowed to bring a shopping cart through.
Tel Rumeida. A Jewish man told the soldiers that they were forbidden to be here.” “This area is only for members of the three (sic!) families and their guests, if they are duly registered. Here civilians dictate the rules and give orders to the soldiers, even to the army, the government and the entire country.
Beit Romano. A group of soldiers were being briefed prior to going beyond the fence to patrol the Palestinian side of Hebron (H1). Graffiti against Arabs on almost every door and wall -- ‘Death to Arabs’, Arabs out, etc.
Jordan Valley
Thursday 1.11.07, 10:00 - 16:30
All CPs we visited were manned by reservists, who are less hostile and rude than the regulars, but still stick to each arbitrary instruction religiously.
Tapuach-Zaa'tara Junction CP. 15 cars eastbound and 15 from Nablus, waiting to be checked.
Shelach CP on road 90. The soldier on the observation tower shrieks at us "Get out of here!". The CO won't even answer whether this is the turnoff to road 90. Cars stop for a check on the roadside gravel, which is short hence dangerous.
Hamra-Beqaot CP, 13:00. A boy detained in a tiny cement cubicle in the middle of the CP compound, awaited by family members. He says he's been there for an hour. The soldiers say that "the GSS talked with him for 40 minutes so he must have done something". He is released at 13:40. A police car delivers a shackled elderly man. His shackles are removed. The man seems to complain that upon receiving his documents, money was missing. Soldier: "How much money? Two notes of 20?" Man: "What about the 50 shekel note?" One of the men in the police car, in civilian dress and armed with a rifle, tries to drive us away. The policemen talk him out of it. Then the man is shackled again, blindfolded this time, and BP take him away.
Tyassir CP. No queue westbound. Arriving vehicles are quickly dealt with. A line of about 10 cars snails it way eastward. Waiting time: an hour and a half. The first car is processed within 2-3 minutes, but its passengers must wait in the pedestrian shed until called for individual checks, and much time passes in between checks. The soldiers are distressed by our presence. Their CO apologizes that they are new. A taxi arrives with 8 passengers. 2 women accompanying an apparently blind 8-year old girl, scared out of her wits. She cannot find her way around the turnstile, has to be in there alone, cannot deal with the metal-detector. She is addressed patiently in Hebrew by the soldiers, but not spared the trial.
Maale Efraim CP. Once our accent is recognized, and license plates noted, we are cheerily waved through.