Bethlehem (Checkpoint 300) and Environs
Date: Tuesday AM, 6.11.07
06:40, Bethlehem CP. Again people complain about crowding on the other side. A woman told us in a shaky voice about the harassments women sometimes suffer in the line. There should be a separate humanitarian line in this CP. A female soldier was excessively rude. She was sitting at the only booth where the palm print device was functioning. It seems there is yet another renovation: Palestinians must put their magnetic card on a magnetic tray near the palm print device, a new procedure unfamiliar to them. While talking on the phone, this soldier screamed at the Palestinians time and again through the loudspeaker, in Hebrew, to put the card on the tray. If they didnג€TMt understand right away, sheג€TMd scream yet louder. People were confused and humiliated. When not screaming or talking on the phone, she would curse and insult us.
Date: Wednesday PM, 7.11.07
15:15, Ezion DCL: Totally deserted, inside and out. The soldier behind the glass window says they are not allowed to speak to us. Nevertheless he gives us the name of the new CO, and says people come mainly in the morning. In the afternoons the place is usually empty. A Palestinian who came to renew his magnetic card was sent away empty handed, told he first has to go to the Palestinian DCL in Bethlehem. He says he has to buy 180 NIS worth of stamps for the forms needed there. Another Palestinian arrived from Bethlehem CP because of a problem with his magnetic card. He turned out to only have to give his hand print again. A Palestinian told us he pays his employer 1000NIS per month for the work permit the latter secures for him, while the employer only pays 600NIS at the DCL.
16:15, Bethlehem CP: Outside, the Palestinians line up nicely in two rows supervised by two private security guards. The lines were quite long, but moved rapidly as 4 booths were operating and a fifth opened shortly after our arrival.
Abu Dis Area
Date: Tuesday PM, 6.11.07
We went to visit our driver. His wife, who has a blue ID. gave birth in Muhassed hospital by Caesarian section. Since he has a green ID, he could not accompany her. He tried to get a permit to visit his wife and firstborn during their 5 days in hospital, but each time he applied, the DCL said that he had to bring an additional document -- proof that he was married, proof that there were no outstanding debts, etc. After 3 abortive trips, he just sat home and "cried like a little girl". He never did get to visit his wife in the hospital.
Container CP. A soldier with a rifle at ready stood in a concrete structure at the turn of the road where northbound vehicles pass. Behind him a car was being examined by a team with a dog. Ordinarily, as soon as we appear, traffic starts to move more quickly. This time, the opposite happened. As soon as we appeared, the soldiers started examining more cars heading south at great length and the line of cars grew longer. As we moved away, the cars were again moved through without delay.
Date: Sunday PM, 4.11.07
14:45 Ar-Ram: No Palestinians at the CP. The gate in the Wall was closed and we detoured through the back streets of Ar-Ram.
15:00 Qalandiya: 2 pedestrian passages operating, with only a few people in each. A young woman with a small child, who had waited for 10 minutes in one lane without any progress, wanted to try her luck in the second line. The PA system suddenly announced that her original lane was open and she rushed back, only to find herself behind the more agile. So she tried moving again. This went on for a frustrating while, till she passed. Crowding at the DCL appears to have declined since the opening of a DCL office in Ar-Ram. Apparently, many people prefer the service there.
15:30: At the vehicle CP lines were not long and passage seemed relatively quick. From a distance one could see that traffic through the New Ar-Ram CP was moving slowly.
16:00, Bir Nabala CP. We managed to get through in spite of the roadwork in progress. 10 cars in line ahead of us and we timed passage at 5 minutes. At Qalandiya village the gate to Jerusalem was still locked and the post opposite it unmanned.
At 17:00 a jeep with four drove up to us, informing us that the senior officer wanted us to leave. We didn't. At 17:05 a police car with two policemen drove up. A policeman got out and, after donning a ceramic vest, began to check papers of vehicles traveling from Bir Nabala to Ramallah. After checking a few drivers, and creating a line of some 10 vehicles, the police left.
17:45: Back at Qalandiya, a large traffic jam at the CP entrance. The pedestrian passages, on the other hand, were empty and it was unclear if any of them were operating at all. All of a sudden the deafening wail of a siren broke out, armed people ran around and the vehicle passages were closed. This was an exercise that lasted only a short time.
Date: Thursday AM, 8.11.07
Anata, 06:40-07:25 A man in a passing car told us that the ג€Black Tubesג€ (the private security company) were holding up traffic needlessly. Double traffic lanes were moving through at a steady pace, but the queue created a serious jam. Checks were random. We were asked to move away, claiming there was an ongoing exercise precluding our being too close. No documents were shown, and we saw no evidence of any exercise. There appeared to be more soldiers and private security than usual. The children passing seemed ill at ease and we smiled at them. They were responsive to our friendly faces.
Qalandiya, 07:45-09:15 Families waiting for the bus for prison visits were escorted by a Red Cross rep. A man told us he cannot pass, though he has a court summons. A man who asked that his wife and baby be allowed to pass with him was denied, since he lacked proof that they were really his family. A sign posted for Post Office lines said it opens at 8am, but it opened only after 9am. Likewise regarding the line for the DCL.
Date: Sunday, 4.11.07, PM
14:35, Beit Iba. Y., the second lieutenant commander, immediately approaches us to tell us to stand behind something or other; what is not clear, it's just away from where we can see anything. We continue to do what we must.
14:45. Ten soldiers in total at the checkpoint which is not busy at this time, with only six vehicles on their way to Nablus. Much of the time, the five vehicle checking soldiers stand around, chat and laugh.
15:30, Jit Junction. Uneventful
Azun. This village remains closed in. Huge concrete boulders block the entrance, and cars have to go in and out of the village one kilometer further west.
17:15, Qalqilya. An endless line of vehicles. We soon learn that people have been in line for an hour. Checking is swift. The problem: huge trucks oversize for any roadway, but particularly this one which is, or was, once a narrow country lane.
Date: Tuesday, 6.11.07, AM
07:10--08:40, Beit Iba. A cloud of dust welcomes us, visibility is nil. The quarry is working in full steam. It is hard to stand at the checkpoint today. Due to the construction, the checking takes place on the road, where the vehicles exiting Nablus pass, a rather dangerous situation.
Lively traffic at the pedestrian checkpoint, but unlike last week no lines form despite the fact that all men and some women are checked. The people exiting the city are checked thoroughly as usual, contents of bags spilled on the waiting table, etc. The vehicle check is rather slow. We timed a truck standing in the middle of the line -- 15 minutes to pass.
Date: Sunday, 4.11.07, PM
13:00, Gate 753. Uneventful
Ar-Ras. Hardly any passing vehicles, but some trunks checked at random.
Village of Jubara. This is a seam line village, in so-called "no man's land," neither in the Palestinian Authority nor in Israel, or in the latter when convenient for "security reasons." It's clearly not convenient for Israel to give the inhabitants of this seam line village electricity. That is finally being done by the Municipality of Tulkarm: a truck, bearing this insignia, stands on the side, and a couple of workers thread a thin wire on thin poles on the east side of the roadway.
13:40, Anabta. Traffic flows freely in both directions. Three soldiers are placed at the three positions at the checkpoint.
13:55. We move nearer the checkpoint, and one soldier calls attention to our presence by beckoning one from another position. As we become the agenda rather than the traffic, we make our way to leave.
Date: Tuesday, 6.11.07, AM
06:25--06:40, Qalqilya. The vehicles, not too many today, are checked quickly.
06:50, Azun, the Rd. 55 exit. Reserve soldiers man the entrance to the village, which is blocked with concrete barriers. The captain says the other exits are open. The harassment this village undergoes continually is due to the fact that "unlike the neighboring villages here the children throw stones". Workers waiting nearby confirm the fact that the other exits are open.
Jit junction. Unmanned.
09:00--09:20, Anabta. Sparse traffic both going in and going out of Tulkarm.
09:20--10:00, Jubara & Ar-Ras. Uneventful
Date: Sunday AM, 4.11.07, 07:00 - 10:30
Sansana- Meitar CP. 07:00. Over 200 people in a crowded in queue and no progress. Workers say they are there since 03:30. We're told the computers are offline, and all 4 queues are manned. The workers claim only 2 are operating. Moments later the line begins to move quickly. Apparently, they switched to manual checking. By 07.32 the CP is empty. Alas, too late for some
whoe employers did not wait. Two workers are informed that the next time they are "late", they will be replaced. A man whose son is at Rambam hospital after surgery, despite having a permit isn't allowed to pass with his son in a car. So the son waits on the other side of the CP, while his father waits with the rest of the workers. Another man has been detained for trying to cross into Israel on Saturday in an "illegal" car. His ID card and cell phone had been taken. The phone was returned, but his ID couldn't be found, so he couldn't pass the manual ID check in Sansana where the computers were down. We drove down to the police HQ, and found the lost ID card. A dozen detainees were standing behind a sheet where they could not be seen from the road. How easily people could be made to disappear. The BP said they are being fed and sheltered from the sun. A few moments later they were taken away into one of the inner buildings.
Date: Monday PM, 5.10.07
06:45 Sansana CP. Hundreds of men waiting to cross. They reported that they had been waiting since 03:30-04:00 in the morning and that passage was very slow, the soldiers carefully checking all food, shoes, etc. We tried to find out why the process was so slow. Only 2 soldiers checking IDs. They are in an enclosed room, with windows facing the pedestrian corridor. The men put their IDs against the glass window to be checked against computerized information. The final step was identification via handprint.
07:35 Pharmacy CP. Very little foot traffic there.
07:50 Tarpat CP. Few people passing. A soldier told us that about once a week children throw stones at the CP.
Tel Rumeida. We heard an account from a woman from one of the Christian groups who witnessed an incident where soldiers were doing spot checks. A 16-17 year old girl was found to have a knife up her sleeve. When asked to drop it she refused and made what was interpreted as a threatening gesture. She was taken into custody. When we arrived she was being questioned in a jeep and then taken elsewhere.
Date: Tuesday AM, 30.10.07, 06:30 - 11:00
Sansana CP, 06:40. No queue. Each worker waited under 5 minutes. They complained that yesterday they arrived at the CP at 16:30, but it was closed and they got home to Samoa only at 9pm.
Tarqumiya, 09:00. No people waiting. A female volunteer, in uniform, welcomes us. We learn that the new CP is open, at this stage, for transferring merchandise by "back to back". The inspections take hours. The merchants and the lorry owners were given fliers, explaining the crossing procedures. They are required to pay income taxes there -- why? Busses to prisons crossed at 8am with no delays. The last worker crossed the CP at 07:10.
Beit Yatir - Nazalin CP: Teachers and pupils cross without problems.
Roads 35, 60, 317, 356: Sparse traffic. Few taxis. Pillboxes manned. Children walk on the road margins -- very dangerous. The shelves at the Zif junction grocery are bare, because it takes a long time for the groceries to cross from Tarqumia CP to Hebron and from there to Zif. The Palestinians suffer, but who cares.
Pharmacy CP: The soldiers let a child in a wheelchair pass, removing the barbed wire. But then other boys rush and try to push through too. A soldier stops 2 kids, shouting: "Move through the CP!" He does not know Arabic and they do not understand Hebrew. We work out a compromise that one child will pass through the CP and the other one through the wicket. "One needs to be tough here- a friend of mine was killed at a CP".
Tarpat CP: Teachers pass according to a list the soldiers have.
Tel Rumeida CP: Soldiers with a magnometer check each person. They check IDs and passports of the international volunteers too. The soldiers are nervous about the constant observation of the volunteers. "We are only doing our jobs...".
Date: Wednesday AM, 7.11.07
07.00 Sansana. Only a few workers still waiting to be checked. Some Palestinians cars in the parking lot and others along road no. 60 -- new orders??
Hebron - 07.45 Last few children passing through the magnometer at Pharmacy and Tarpat CP. CPT volunteers told us about a new routine: The soldiers check some of the children's bags, slowing down their way to school.
Date: Wednesday AM, 7.1107, 0600-0700
Sansana CP. In the parking lot, many transits with workers waiting for other workers to pass. 4 soldiers were sitting doing nothing where the cars pass. We saw a long queue of people where the shades are. They welcomed us with "How can we live like this?" and told us that they spend at least 1.5 hours in line every morning. We walked to the other side of the CP. One of the soldiers sitting in the car passage told us that we are not allowed to stand there. He said that he was the CO. Only 2 soldiers checking IDs and the line moves very slowly. When we went back to the end of the queue, this time by car, we saw that the shady area was clear, and people were still standing in line on the other side of the gates. The CP area is very dirty. The water sprinklers are watering mainly the asphalt roads.