Weekly Digest 25.11-1.12.07 | Machsomwatch
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Weekly Digest 25.11-1.12.07

Wednesday, 5 December, 2007

 

Bethlehem (Checkpoint 300) and Environs, Monday PM, 26.11.07

Wallaje: From our friend A. we heard that tomorrow representatives of the Ministry of the Interior are due in the village together with the lawyer who collected most of the inhabitants' signatures (and money) for applications to obtain blue ID cards three years ago. The outcome doesn't look too rosy. All works on the separation wall, which was about to be erected between Har Giloh and Wallaje, have been stopped; there was no more money. A. has been granted a work permit for the last couple of months, but at one point was stopped at the first window when wanting to enter Jerusalem and told that his entrance was denied on grounds of a refusal by the police. He tried again at the third window and was let through. Unlike him and the other inhabitants of Ein Jawaza (the lower part of the village, closest to Jerusalem), his neighbor had been unable to pay the fine for the illegal construction of his home. This neighbor has been denied a work permit on security grounds for the last nine years and therefore opted to serve a prison time instead of paying the more than fifty monthly installments, which A. and the others had taken upon themselves. He talked of the harsh conditions of the 'security prisoners' and the fact that they were not allowed any benefits. At one time, after three months, he was allowed a family visit, but it was so short and inhuman that the remainder of his prison term would have been more bearable without it. No one else in his family is denied entrance into Israel, he too receives one-day passes when he has to appear in Court and therefore he is aware that he does not constitute a REAL security risk, but is only being harassed because the authorities know of his deep involvement in the politics of the village and his connections with left-wing groups and international organizations re the future of the lands of Wallaje. Meanwhile the father of five, has only sporadic one-day jobs despite the fact that he used to work regularly with a well-known contractor in Jerusalem who is willing to take him back any time as soon as he can obtain a permit.
Har Giloh: Major construction works of large villas carried out on the lands of Wallaje.
"Liebermann Road" (between Har Homa and Herodiyon): Near Nueman Is a huge CP the construction of which is almost completed. At night it is lit up like an airport. On the way we spotted an uninterrupted chain of tiny hilltop settlements all around Noqdim.
Bethlehem CP: 2 windows were open and the queue, held back by the civilian security guard, was not longer than a few minutes.

Tuesday AM, 27.11.07. 06:30, Bethlehem CP. Opened at 05:15. Crowding on both sides. Only four checking posts were open. The soldier in one of them left for some reason, and Palestinians went on standing in line confused and humiliated, not knowing what to do. We called the PC office and the IDF Humanitarian Center. Ten minutes later a soldier came out, but opened another booth. The line in front of the empty post broke and people rushed to the other line. Some time later a fifth checking post was opened. The PC emptied only around 07:50. In all this confusion a policeman did find the time to notify us that it was forbidden to talk to Palestinians within the PC - a new regulation was born.
08:15, Ezyon DCL. Very few people, all were inside the DCL when we arrived, and yet, it took quite a long time for them to come out. A taxi driver, prevented passage for "security" reasons, had already been in touch with our colleague S. about his problem - he wants to have a special permit to drive his daughter just once to Al-Najah University in Nablus, and help her carry the necessary things for her stay away from home. He came this morning again to ask for the permit, and again was refused.

Thursday A.M., 29.11.2007 Rachel Crossing -Palestinian Side: many people arrive but there is no line in the corridor which looks like a cage. The Ecumenic observers told us that checkpoint opened today at 5:00 which explains why there is no special pressure. In general, they report, during the last days the crossing was smooth.
Rachel Crossing - Israeli side: 7:00 - Five windows open. There are no long lines. We met again the Ecumenic observer who told us there was a line before the metal detectors and it took her 25 minutes to cross.
Nablus Area
Sunday, 25.11.07, PM
14:45, Deir Sharaf. We're told that there was a checkpoint - a Hummer -- this morning, and that Beit Iba was closed for two hours "after the MachsomWatch women had left."

15:00, Beit Iba. "You should have been here this morning," we're told, again and again, by workers and by soldiers. "A boy, under sixteen years of age, was caught, not with one, but with two explosive devices." Haven't we heard such a story before, just recently, at the other large checkpoint in Nablus, at Huwwara? The crowds of people at the checkpoint are huge. So is the number of soldiers.
15:15. There are always four, sometimes five soldiers, at the vehicle checking area. Four soldiers attend to a horse and its rider, coming from the Deir Sharaf direction, all four pat the horse, gather around it as the line of trucks behind and from Nablus grows and grows. An ambulance waits and waits.
15:22. At last the ambulance is checked. The soldier peers, and asks questions about the people inside, then spits brazenly. He and his mate proceed to use a knife to open up sacks on one of the porter's barrows, and a well dressed man, rushes from the pedestrian checking area to object to what is being done to his products. These same two soldiers continue with their offensive checking by taking out the air from one of the front tires of the many huge semi-trailers making their way into Nablus. The soldiers continue to talk and josh with each other. One jumps aboard a donkey cart and goes for a joy ride of a few meters.
15:40. A bus is stopped for seven minutes, coming from Nablus. IDs are checked of all the young men aboard by one soldier and the one military police at the vehicle checking area. The bus has already waited for one hour before getting to this point. There are three detaineesinfo-icon. We learn that they are being detained as punishment, and that one has to serve "another hour."
16:00. There is no way now for the many pedestrians from Deir Sharaf to get through the checking area (construction ahead). A soldier moves to the group, and instead of checking each ID separately, gathers a pile of such IDs, then goes through them slowly and methodically in exceedingly inefficient fashion as the group of at least 50 people wait and wait, usually for more than 20 minutes.

16:15, Jit Junction. 18 vehicles in line. When we return at 16:35, there are 21 vehicles coming from the Beit Iba direction.

Monday, 26.11.07, AM
07.20, Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction. On the road from Tulkarm, 8 vehicles. Three lanes at the Zaatara-Nablus checkpoint. Vehicles go through quickly. Around 53 vehicles in the queue.
07.55, Beit Furiq. No vehicles waiting. Hardly any passing both ways. Not too many people going through, their check-up is quick.
08.25, Awarta. 2-3 vehicles on queue to enter Nablus, 7 to exit. An Israeli Palestinian is detained. Yesterday he was allowed to enter to see his family but today, upon exiting, was told to wait for the police, as Israeli citizens are not allowed in.
08.55, Huwwara. No cars exiting Nablus, few cars entering, checked up quickly. Almost upon our arrival one detainee is put in the cubicle, and 10 minutes later another one. The queue for women and older people moves fast. The regular line is slower. There are not many people. The young women who serve as military policewomen are loud, impatient and shrill towards the Palestinians. At some stage they demanded that all men crowding around the turnstiles exiting Nablus will go backwards and then proceed one by one.

10.20, Zaatara. Over 50 vehicles in line. Only two lanes were active.

Tuesday, 27.11.07, AM 08:45--09:50
Beit Iba. The construction work is nearly finished. Today the people entering Nablus and the ones coming out pass in the same lane, but no lines form. Traffic - both vehicular and pedestrian - is sparse. The usual sights: a disabled little girl and her wheelchair pass into Nablus on a donkey-driven cart. An old, stooped couple waddle on foot. This is due to the restrictions on vehicular traffic into the city.

Tulkarm Area. Sunday, 25.11.07, PM
13:20, Jubara. Empty
13:25, Ar-Ras. A line of five vehicles. Checking is quick and efficient.
14:05, Anabta. Traffic flows freely in both directions. Random checkinginfo-icon. On the way to Qalqilya. A couple of kilometers further west, just outside the village of Funduk, a police car is stopping all traffic. "They are throwing stones," we are told (and we make an assumption, which could, as we learn, be incorrect, as to who "they" are). We call our friend from the village, and we hear the whole story: six days of curfew, his factory ruined, houses broken into, windows broken. Settlers from Shavei Shomron and from Kedumim entered Funduk together with the army. We never get to Qalqilya.

Tuesday, 27.11.07, AM
07:00, Irtah. At this relatively late hour there are still quite a few workers waiting for their transport. We didn't hear any complaints.
07:10--07:40, Jubara & Ar-Ras. Uneventful
07:50--08:20, Anabta. Most vehicles pass without checking. 10:00
11:15, Funduk village. A colleague of ours had made an appointment with an inhabitant of Funduk, to collect a disk of photos recording the damages done by the settlers three days ago. What we saw, and this after some of the damage has been fixed, is the result of a veritable pogrom done by settlers and backed up by soldiers, border policemen and regular policemen. According to the witnesses there were 100-150 rioters arriving by busses and cars. Later today a visit from the organization Yesh Din, that deal with attacks by settlers, is expected.

Hebron Area, Sunday AM, 25.11.07
Sansana- Meitar CP. 07:00 - Empty. Cars on both sides but all the workers have passed.
Dura-al Fawwar crossing, Sheep's crossing, Shiukh - Hebron crossing , Sair-East Halhul - People passing
Hebron - Things are different. During the night settlers broke into Kordova School, threw rocks on the path leading to the school and the plants in the garden. The soldiers, posted only 10 meters away, say they didn't hear a thing. Are they really so indifferent? Or are they afraid of the settlers? We leave, with no answers form the police as to how they will handle this.

Tuesday AM, 27.11.07 Sansana CP, 06:45: The passage was empty of Palestinians. The peddlers explained that only some 150 people passed and the rest probably preferred not to come as they had despaired of the attitude of the soldiers. 3 transits arrived and we observed from the Israeli side, that the 30 people passed through within 10 minutes.
Dura el-Pawar: People - old and young - cross the junction under the pillbox.
Sheep junction: A jeep of the Lavie brigade randomly stops groups of adolescents and check their IDs. "It is by order of the commanders. We know who to stop by looking at their faces. Our job is to protect the Jews." Along the hills of Benei Naim, old and young have to climb the mounds, because of the apartheid roads. Hebron Pharmacy CP: Soldiers stop some workers, who crossed over to H2 area for work. Finally they are released and allowed to pass. The international volunteers tell us about incidents that occurred at the Cordoba school yesterday and the day before. The Principal told us that on Sunday, when the regular school guard was absent, settlers entered and smashed the decorative fence and littered the entrance path with rocks. They destroyed the new garden and rooted up the fresh plants. She called the gardeners of the Hebron municipality, who did their best to save the plants. She also photographed the damage done. The next day settler kids and adolescents, with encouragement of their elders climbed on the original staircase (with the barbed wire) and with axes broke the water pipe to the school. They yelled and cursed and made obscene slaughtering gestures. We apologized in the name of the sane part of Israeli citizens.
Tarpat CP: Empty and quiet.
Tel Rumeida: Soldiers order young people that pass to lift their shirts' but do not detain.
The disputed house: desolate.

Thursday AM, 29.11.07 06.15. There were no people waiting in the sheds. We were told that checking began early, and that there had been no problems. We met S., who told us he was in charge of the civilian workers who will replace soldiers at the passages into Israel. He lectured us on the humanitarian advantages of the forthcoming change. In the meantime, the late arrivals were asked to take off their shoes and coats, and their bags were searched. We assumed that the meticulous search was part of a lesson to the civilian trainees

Thursday AM, 29.11.07 06:00 Tarqumiya - There were no more than 50 workers in line. Within 20 minutes the line was gone. The workers were relaxed. We spoke with a man who works for the company that will be operating the new CP. He said that it has not yet opened because they need to finish a footpath, and last week's rains delayed the work. He told us that the CP will be manned by former soldiers from fighting units.