Weekly Digest 9.12-15.12.07 | Machsomwatch
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Weekly Digest 9.12-15.12.07

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Monday, 17 December, 2007

Bethlehem area.

Sunday AM, 9.12.07
Bethlehem CP, 07:00: Lines are short, 6 booths open. People emerging report very short lines and no special problems.
Ezyon DCL, 08:00 Quite a few people waiting for permits. The line proceeds rapidly. 2 men approach us about their security problem.

Tuesday, 11.12.07, AM
06:40, Bethlehem CP. As usual, hell on the Palestinian side, quite orderly on the Israeli side; 6 checking posts open. Around 07:40 the pressure was alleviated. A man had his permit confiscated, no reason given. We called the IDF Humanitarian Center again and again for an explanation, with no result.
08:00, Ezyon DCL. Almost empty.

Wednesday AM , 12.12.07
Bethlehem CP, 06:40. 6 stations open. Short queues.However, 2 Ecumenical observers who came from say there are yet many, many people waiting to enter, although the CP opened at 05:00. Apparently the metal detectors are working very slowly.
Ezyon DCL, 08:40. The office is open, though those with police business must wait until 11:00, according to a posted sign. A 35 year old woman from Bethlehem tells us that she works in a hospital in east Jerusalem and seeks a renewal of her permit. She was sent here from Bet El, and now is told to return to Bet El. We get the attention of the soldier, who asks her where she lives and what she does. When he learns that she is a nurse, he invites her in, and in a short time she receives her permit.

Wednesday PM, 12.12.07 A beautiful day. We first drove to Nebi Yunis, with a single set of returned documents. Haya O. says the number of documents are decreasing, as the difficulties imposed by the authorities for helping out in these matters increase.
Ezyon DCL: Not a soul in sight.
Bethlehem CP: Two long lines of workers queuing up all the way to the main road. Inside, 4 stations open for checking. Civilian security guards maintaining order. The occasional rude barking from the booths, but by and large the queues move fast. We timed one individual at 7 minutes from joining he queue to passing the booth.

Abu Dis Area
Monday AM, 10.12.07
07:00, Sheikh Saed. The main activity is a major cleanup effort on the part of 2 BPs. Most passers are kids of all ages going to school. The soldiers are correct.
Abu Dis. Not a mouse to be seen.
Olives Terminal. The people coming through are bitter about the lack of any decent regular means of transportation on the Israeli side.
Container CP. No queue. One detainee inside the CP.

Tuesday PM, 11.12.07
Olives terminal, 14:15. Few people heading in either direction, or all seemed to be going well. The interior is now totally blocked from view.
Abu Dis. We passed a flying CP. Abu Dis is a ghost town. In the Moskowitz settlement we saw no sign of activity.
Sheikh Saed. The soldier's inspection booth was moved to the opposite side of the road. The boulders that used to block entry have been removed and, theoretically, it would be possible to drive into Sheikh Said (for the first time in years). 6 personnel there -- 4 private security guards and 2 BP, but while we were there, not one person passed in either direction!
Container CP. so much traffic! Hundreds of vehicles headed toward Bethlehem and about a third of that heading the other direction. At the same time, hundreds of workers returning home descended upon the CP. One singularly thoughtful BP was checking workers' IDs, waving cars through, checking a bus and generally maintaining the CP. Shortly 2 BPs joined to help him.

Nablus Area
Sunday, 9.12.07, PM 15:00, Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction. Empty in all directions.
Yitzhar-Huwwara Junction. Army roadblock checking Israeli vehicles, probably following the colonist projects foreseen for today.
15:15, Huwwara. X-Ray truck active - situated conveniently in the middle of a deep mud puddle. Which complicates the recovery of luggage into the porter carts. One detainee - a taxi driver caught driving on the Jews-only road from the Checkpoint towards Alon More colony. According to the CP commander he is suspected with carrying weapons. The "humanitarian" line is open and functioning all the time. The pedestrians waiting behind the turnstiles are impeccable single files. The air is filled mostly with a shrill trio of shrieking MP women - at the Palestinians, at one another, and just to let off steam. 15:30. A soldier catches a young man trying to 'leak' out through the entry turnstiles instead of the usual checking procedures. Full chase, weapons drawn, catch. Our men beam. Got him. A resident of Beit Dajan tells us that yesterday at the Beit Furiq Checkpoint, when he wanted to enter Nablus with a vehicle he bought for its parts, the police confiscated the car and took its papers, to the Ariel police station. He was not handed any paper witnessing the procedure. We call the army hotline that promises to look into it. The body checks are strict as usual: a girl soldier pats down the t-shirted back of a man turning around to show his middle. A young man wearing sweat pants is required to tolerate a thorough touch-check of his crotch with a manual magnetometer. 16:20. Another 'sneaker' has been caught. We are told at the army hotline that before the three punitive hours were up, nothing was to be done for those detaineesinfo-icon. 16:30,
Beit Furiq. At the checkpoint, vehicles are checked by a dog. Pedestrians trickle through.
17:20, back to Huwwara. The detainees are still inside. Just before we left for Beit Furiq, an Arab Israeli couple was detained for having entered Nablus. They too are still there. The man leans on a crutch and paces restlessly, wrapped in a blanket (it is very cold). "Stop, you've harassed us enough!" he tells the CP commander. The officer obviously enjoys playing with their IDs in his pocket. The man loses his patience and becomes hysterical - cries, loses his breath and collapses on the ground. Later we found out he fell as a result of a sudden severe rise in blood pressure and heart beat. A Palestinian medic waiting in one of the lines rushed to help him. Soon an army ambulance arrived complete with doctor and three medics, armed with rifles and stretchers who stormed the shack. Then an army intensive care mobile unit arrived as well. Later we learn that he underwent back surgery half a year ago. Suffering frequent bouts of severe pain, he took an acquaintance's advice to consult some treatment in Nablus, and that was why they entered the city. He said he was son of a (army) bereaved family, and described the entire detention as pure harassment. He yelled at the commander, "I am a stinking Israeli!" A family relative picked them up at the checkpoint. The Checkpoint emptied, and we left at 18:20.

Tuesday, 11.12.07, AM
Jit junction. Unmanned.
07:15--09:00, Beit Iba. Few pedestrians and vehicles. Later, especially after 08:00, when students started arriving, there was a livelier traffic from time to time. Still, there was no congestion and most of the time the people entering Nablus were not checked. The people coming out were checked at 2 parallel counters. For the vehicular traffic there are 2 lanes as well, but cars were checked one at a time. A man said that the mornings may be quiet, but in the afternoon there are "bad soldiers".

Tulkarm Area
Sunday, 9.12.07, PM
13:30, Qalqilya. Few cars. All Israeli vehicles are stopped and checked. Most of them are sent back, but passengers are allowed to enter by foot.
14:30, Route 55: Azun. Opened, the cement blocks removed. We later hear that it has been closed again.
Jit junction. There are three soldiers and a hummer. Just before Shavei Shomron, another CP is set up with a jeep and two soldiers. Perhaps this is the army's preparation concerning the settlers that are supposed to be coming into the territories this week to set up new points.
16:35, Anabta. Long queues both directions. There was no end to the amount of vehicles coming from Tulkarm. The soldiers here are reservists and had no answer to why there is this pile up of traffic. There was very little checking of IDs or vehicles, most (Palestinians and Israelis) were waved through.
17:20, Jubara, Ar-Ras. Here again there are reservists. There are few vehicles and they are passing rather quickly. The soldiers seem to be efficient and pleasant.

Tuesday, 11.12.07, AM Empty roads and sparse traffic everywhere
06:40--07:00, Qalqilya. The encirclementinfo-icon of the city is off; Israeli & Palestinian vehicles go in and out of the city after being checked. A group of young children who go to school in Israel come out running to their transportation vehicles. An attempt to find out how come Palestinian children study in Israeli villages was not successful; perhaps one of the parents is an Israeli citizen; such mixed marriages abound in Qalqilya and many people who live here carry Israeli IDs.
Azun. There are no soldiers at the entrance to the village, the curfew is off, but the concrete blocks are still there.
09:15--09:45, Anabta. Tulkarm checkpoints are manned by reserve soldiers, who are more judicious as a rule than the regulars. On the entrance side no lines at all, on the exit side a fairly short line of waiting cars, moving fast.
09:50--10:30, Jubara & Ar-Ras. Down at Ar-Ras the traffic is sparse, the soldiers friendly, but there is a dog-handler whose dog checks a taxi thoroughly, apparently to train the dog, not due to specific suspicions.

Hebron Area
Tuesday pm, 11.12.07
17:00. Sansana-Meitar CP, Unusually for this hour, a long line of workers was waiting to pass and go home. The workers quite angry. Only one checking stations was open. We investigated, and were told that the changeover had just happened, and there were some inevitable 1st day glitches, but as we were speaking, a broken station was fixed and the line started moving quickly.

Thursday AM, 13.12.07
05:45. Things already looked bad from the road. Many transports blocking the road, and waiting for workers to cross. We estimate 500+ workers in the queue, which began some distance before the covered track. Some said they had been waiting over 2 hours. A soldier said the crowding was the result of the closureinfo-icon of two other CPs.papers were being checked quickly and efficiently by 6 MPs. On average, 23 workers passed per minute. At 06:15, 3 soldiers who were checking papers inside the station stepped outside. The rate increased to 44 workers per minute. The workers claim that when MW is not there, the line is held up for hours, and "after 7:00 the contractors don't want us anymore." By 06:40, the line consisted of no more than 200 workers.