Weekly Digest 18.11-24.11.07 | Machsomwatch
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Weekly Digest 18.11-24.11.07

Wednesday, 28 November, 2007

 

Bethlehem (Checkpoint 300) and Environs

Date: Tuesday AM, 20.11.07, AM

06:30, Bethlehem CP. A definitely untypical morning, where all functioned as it should. Six checking posts, no less, were open, and the soldiers worked quickly and efficiently. No long lines on the other side either, we were told.

One man was refused passage, though his documents were in order. It is typical that though the army stores and computerizes all possible details about every single Palestinian that moves around, it does not deem it necessary to note the reason for the prevention, and people are refused passage without any explanation at all. 

07:30, Ezyon DCL. Less than ten persons. A couple with a small child, who came to revalidate the woman's permit to stay with her husband, were sent to the Palestinian Authority's offices at Beit Jalla. 

Date: Wednesday AM, 21/11/07

Bethlehem, 06:40: Six checking stations, the lines are crowded and long. Checking is swift. People say there are many waiting to enter the CP. There is still no sign of roofing at the entrance, although one of the security men says it will be built.

Al Nashash, 07:30: One man asks for our help with a traffic ticket.

Nebi Yunis, 08:00: Two men bring their forms for help with traffic tickets.

DCL Etzion, 08:45: 10 men waiting for a magnetic card. We are told M. is there for police problems. Later we are notified that perhaps he isn't, and a call directly to his mobile, verifies that he is not there. He says there is a sign posted saying he will not be present all week but we fail to find it. 

Date: Thursday AM, 22.11.07

Bethlehem CP: 5 windows open and people pass without long delays. As always, Palestinians complain that the CP opens late and that there is no protection from cold or rain on the Palestinian side.

Road 60: Here and there a military vehicle. 

 Abu Dis Area

Date: Monday AM, 19.11.2007

07:00 Sheich Saed: A few children going to school. 3-4 adults with blue IDs come across. The new construction makes it even less accessible at the CP. A very nice Druz B.P. soldier shares his genuine pain about these people. It is heart warming.

Abu Dis: The usual two bored soldiers who do not answer our greetings and one man who is on the list are all we meet.

08:00 Zeitun: Hardly anyone coming through. We are told by the few drivers there that we have to come at 6:00 to see the real traffic at this terminal.

Wadi Nar: A few cars going south are waiting in line. Many more, about 20-24, are waiting to go north. As soon as we arrive a nofficer, who is there as well as two BP-men, starts releasing the traffic and within five minutes it is empty.

Date: Tuesday PM. 20.11.07

Zeitun, 2:15: Some school children returning to the Palestinian side without any interference (according to the time it took for them to enter the building until they emerged). The entire area has been lined with sheeting that prevents one from looking in to see what is going on inside.

Wadi Naar: there was a line of about 10 vehicles heading south, and three vehicles coming north. Two BP-women were examining a van with their dogs and in the meantime no one paid attention to the cars northbound. There were 5 BP at the CP but they seemed to operate in the most unprofessional, haphazard way imaginable. At times, just one BP was waving vehicles through from both directions. Other times, all five were chatting with no one calling cars through. When buses came, two BPs boarded them and checked IDs. Then, everyone would be quickly waved through without a glance. At times, the BPs would forget to look toward the cars heading north and then long lines would build up. 

 Qalandiya Area

Date: Monday AM, 19.11.07

Shuafat Refugee Camp, 06.45: Many guards and BP staff there. Traffic really flowed and those without permits didn't get through. We noticed that some commanders use their judgment more and some less when people with permits are at the "wrong" CP.

Qalandiya, 08.00: A young man who came to renew his work-permit, works for a building company as a painter. A very soft spoken gentle man, who at 31 just got engaged to a history student. He has spent 2 days getting his permit. One day to hand in the papers and get his number in the queue and the second to come and collect his permit.

Here was an incident with the Civil administration officer concerning our presence at the DCL waiting room. Later we understood that he was really worried that something may happen to us. We shared with him how difficult it was to be a professional soldier and also a citizen with a family of civilians dealing with social issues.

A family who had an appointment at Hadassah Hospital has American passports but is in the process of extending their visa. They were unaware of the fact that in that case their status changes to that of any Palestinian and they too needed a permit to go to Jerusalem. With a bit of persistence we got them to meet someone who could help them get to the hospital in the morning and not wait til the evening for the permit.

We spoke to a couple of frustrated blue ID (Jerusalem status) carriers who have to undergo the whole checking routine twice if they want to go to the Post Office on their way to Jerusalem .

Date: Thursday AM, 22.11.07

Anata, 06.30: Very long lines of cars, and a huge traffic jam at Hizme.

Qalandia: Hardly any lines. 5 entrances were open and people passed quite quickly. However, there were 3 female soldiers in the inner turnstiles who barked the instructions to the Palestinians. Also entrance no. 5 is designated for students teachers and elderly people (over 60), but the electrical running sign above the entrance is only in English and Hebrew, not in Arabic. Accordingly the constant flow of students used all the entrances. The female MP at the booth was very responsive to our request and immediately made a phone call which seemed to work since the soldiers instructing the Palestinians calmed down. Obviously she could not do anything about the sign.

The potholes on the roads leading form Lille to Qalandia are much more noticeable now that the rain has started, and quite hazardous.

Back to Anata: The traffic jam in Hizme disappeared, as did the lines in Anata. Many students crowded around the buses but after a very short while they all went on their way. As we approached the CP a soldier asked to move out, we refused and he made a phone call which apparently convinced him to leave us alone. There was very little traffic and one driver stopped to tell us that this week the soldiers are OK. In addition to the BP there were private security guards.

Nablus Area

Date: Sunday, 18.11.07, PM

15:00, Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction. 9 vehicles coming from the west, about 20 from Nablus in two waiting lines.

Yitzhar Junction. Unmanned.

15:15, Huwwara. 3 active checking posts. A cab drivers tells us that earlier today, at noon, "there were guys here from the GSS (security services) and they raised hell. They took out ten students from the waiting lines and led them back behind the bungalow to pressure them into becoming collaborators."

The special side line for women and elderly moves rather rapidly.

The men's lines are impeccable single files. As though they had just been drilled.

A securing soldier yells "Whoa whoa whoa whoa!!!" at such volume that even we jump. A major row takes place inside the lines and the soldiers stress out and roar even more than usual. This scene goes on and on, the Palestinians can no longer get through, checking is stopped. A soldier climbs up on the metal bars of the revolving gatesinfo-icon and yells a series of blood-curdling orders down at the men. Apparently there's also a stuck turnstile. Later on the DCL (District Coordination Office) rep. tells us that someone fell down in the lines, and nearly got trampled. That's when the soldiers entered the crowd to get him up.

15:30. Two detaineesinfo-icon. Fifteen minutes later they are released by the commander after holding a long talk with them.

Military policewomen do not cease their screaming.

The next scare: a soldier manning the observation tower has apparently run out of batteries, and he breaks out in screams that resound all across the checkpoint compound, at everyone in sight, both soldiers and Palestinians.

16:10, Beit Furiq. Many pedestrians; long vehicle line.

17:00, back to Huwwara. A bus exiting Nablus has been waiting for over an hour and a half (we began timing it before we left for Beit Furiq). Still crowds in the pedestrian waiting lines.

Prisoners released from the Israeli Damon jail hand the soldiers their release papers (no IDs). A deaf dialogue ensues: the soldier says again and again in Hebrew that there's a number missing. The man does not understand him. Finally he is allowed through. Others like him are still waiting. Tense. "Why do I have to wait here for three hours because of your army's papers?"

Date: Sunday, 18.11.07, PM

15:00--16:10, Beit Iba. A large group of young men wait on the Deir Sharaf side of the checkpoint for their bus to come through. They've obviously been told to get off and walk through the checkpoint, through the turnstiles. One set of turnstiles functions, but this week, the concrete central checking booth is no more (about to be replaced, but once again, there's no work going on at this time in the afternoon). To make up for the lack of the central checking booth, there are plenty of soldiers, usually three, but sometimes five, at the checking table, two at the lines leading from the turnstiles for those without briefcases or packages, one for men, one for women, and a single soldier for a lane that functions both as the access point to Nablus from Deir Sharaf and the so-called humanitarian line for the elderly and mothers with small children. Here the lone soldier makes a mother with newborn infant and two toddlers pull out her ID, open up each of the several plastic bags she carries.

Two ambulances wait for as much as five minutes, cars are thoroughly searched. The soldiers joke and chat with each other non-stop.

16: 20, Jit Junction. No checkpoint.

Date: Thursday, 22.11.07, AM

A quite morning, no exceptional occurrences.

8.00, Beit Iba. Few pedestrians, in and out of Nablus. There was little passage of cars and when the line got a bit long 2 checking points were opened.

Tulkarm Area

Date: Sunday, 18.11.07, PM

13:15, Jubara. There's a line of eight to ten vehicles waiting to get out from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and on the way in, a blue police car and two women soldiers.

13:25, Ar-Ras. Two soldiers at the central check post, one standing, gun pointing, at the west side of the roadway, one up in the crow's next, all reservists. Little passing traffic in either direction, but each vehicle is peered into, although IDs are not looked at.

14:00, Gate 753. Two men squat, waiting on the side of the road. The usual story. They've been over the Green Line, to Taibeh, and are now being "punished" by the soldiers at the separation barrier.

14:15, Anabta. Once again reservists, very relaxed. No lines in either direction on our arrival, vehicles just waved through. The lines grow as the soldiers check more thoroughly and look inside cars - sometimes and at random, there being no pattern to what's going on.

14:30. A Hummer arrives: lunch. Two soldiers go to get it behind the concrete wall, and the lines of vehicles waiting to be checked grows and grows.

16:30 -- near Kedumim: the "hilltop settlement" house has been painted a most un-Palestinian color: a bright, pale pink. A tent, its blue awning clearly visible from the road, seems to stand in the yard. Near the well kept steep dirt road leading up to the lone house, two young settler women, becomingly attired in typical hippie settler style, sit seemingly relaxed and comfortable.

Azun. The concrete blocks have been moved to the side yet once again (until the next time's closureinfo-icon), and traffic flows freely in and out of the town.

16:40, Qalqilya. The line of vehicles seems long, but the well spoken, polite and cheerful Border Police commander who introduces himself to us maintains that "it's a regular day." Palestinian vehicles are waved on, Israeli vehicles stopped to see if they have permits. Some are sent back. As darkness descends, the soldiers' flashlights come out to check vehicles, and the lines get longer, at least 15-20 in both directions.

Date: Thursday, 22.11.07, AM

A quite morning, no exceptional occurrences.

8:00 - Anabta. Calm; no lines.

8.50, Anabta. 5 cars in line leaving Tulkarm. They pass fast.

Hebron Area

Date: Monday AM, 19/11/2007

05:15: Tarqumia - There is an electricity blackout (we are told it started 5 minutes before we arrived). A lot of movement through the terminal, and a lot of vans are waiting to pick up the workers. In spite of the blackout, workers continue to pass. A BP jeep pulls over and provides light for the soldiers with its headlights. There are at least 3 inspectors, 2 security guards and 4 BP soldiers. Passage is relatively quick (no line at all in the vehicle queue). One of the BP soldiers assumed command and stood with his gun above the line of workers waiting to pass through to make sure no one moves forward. It was a very unpleasant sight. On the other hand, an older BP soldier addressed the workers in Arabic and pointed them towards the checking area in a courteous manner.

Around 05:45 the power came back, and the soldiers returned to their regular posts. It took a worker approximately 15 minutes to pass through.

Date: Tuesday PM., 20.11.07

16:15: Very few workers returning at this hour. They were dropped off at the parking lot and then ran to the checking posts inside the terminal. Every thing was moving fast - the men passed through in 15 seconds. Even when there were more workers returning at 16:30, there were no queues.

This is a new, modern CP, but the filth surrounding the building is shocking. Nahal Hevron, which has long since ceased to be a river, is now an open sewer which flows on the other side of the fence along the pathway between the parking lot and the terminal. The stench is horrid. The areas of greenery along the way are completely full of trash.

Date: Wednesday AM, 21/11/07

6.30-9.30

Maitar CP: 60 workers, well organized in a line, still waiting to pass. Groups of 15 were allowed to pass the first gate and be checked and only then another group was called in. The process took about 7 minutes. Rainy days will be a problem as most of the line is outside.

Route 60: The new road is slowly being built, all the barriers are in place, all the junctions are open as usual.

Hebron

Pharmacy CP: Boys on their way to school, 9 years old Muhamad is carried on a wheel chair through the gate. He lives in front of the boys' school but a wall separates his house from it.

Kordoba school: We were impressed by the renovations done after the fire: Walls and window shells painted in bright colors, new pavement and nice flower beds in the patio. Lessons started at 8.00 though half of the teachers were still waiting to pass the CP

Tarpat CP: .Teachers from Kordoba school passed through the magnometer while their bags were checked. 6 other teachers refused to pass but agreed to be checked by the soldiers who refused to let them through.. 2 old and sick people passed through the gate and were checked by the same soldiers very correctly. D, a CPT volunteer tried to go through but didn't succeed. Our talks with the soldiers, the officer in charge and the DCL didn't help. At 9.30 the teachers were still on the Palestinian side. D. told us that things have changed since a knife was found inside a woman's sleeveinfo-icon. It was an excuse for some soldiers to forget about the arrangements with the school principle.

Abraham Tomb CP: A young detainee stood in front of the wall waiting for his documents to be checked. The BP soldiers didn't hurry, saying checking took time but eventually handed back the papers without getting an official approval. It seems that regulations in Hebron are decided by the people at stake and change from day to day.

Route 317: Zif J. was open, 2 cars with cows on went by. The road was empty, only one young lady was waiting for a ride at Maon, in spite yesterday's incident.