Weekly Digest 3.6-9.6.07 | Machsomwatch
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Weekly Digest 3.6-9.6.07

Saturday, 9 June, 2007

Bethlehem area

Sunday AM, 3.6.07
07:00 Bethlehem CP: The crowding has eased and the crossing has been reasonable. Two recurring problems: 1. Many people are rejected by the machine although they have perfectly valid magnetic cards. 2. Passing women have an awful time due to the crowding and the inevitable body contact in its wake.
08:00 Ezyon DCL: Many people waiting. But: NO MAGNETIC CARDS! After the DCL was closed for 3 months, now there are no cards! Today the excuse was that the computer
was down, but last week there were hardly any cards either.

Wednesday AM, 6.6.07
06:45 Bethlehem CP. Crowds of people outside. The street is full of vehicles waiting for their workers. Inside the CP four stations are checking orderly lines of people. A female soldier screams at the people to line up single file.
08:45 Ezyon DCL. About 50 people waiting, some inside the building, others outside. People complain that too few numbers were given out. Men under 28 years of age complain that they cannot receive a magnetic card.

Wednesday PM, 6.6.07
Ezyon DCL: 15 people waiting. Men in their 20s were not even allowed to hand in their requests for a magnetic card, though all had stories about 19-20 year olds who had even been issued the hoped for cards. 3 people over 40 were also waiting to go in for magnetic cards, but didn't have numbers. We negotiated on their behalf with the soldiers on the other side of the turnstiles. They soldiers were polite, but said they had already issued their quota for the day (40 cards) and the 3 should come tomorrow morning. One of the men said he had been doing so for quite some time, and reluctantly left. A young man, holding a letter from the legal advisor of the civil administration stating he was no security risk, was still turned away and told not to come back for two years. Perhaps the letter was not authentic, because he didn't seem too upset, but these are the measures they have to stoop to so as to be able to work.

Thursday, 7.6.07, AM
06:45, Bethlehem CP. No lines on either side. It's been like this all week, we're told.
07:40, Ezyon DCL. The door to the waiting hall opens at 07:00. About 70 people waiting. Apparently, the day before 30 magnetic cards were issued, so people came as early as 22:00 the previous night in order to be at the head of the line. At 08:00 numbers were handed out. About 10 persons were waiting for permits. Many who are denied work permits because they are on the GSS lists solicited our help.

Friday AM, 8.6.07
Bethlehem, 09:00. Only one window operating, serving people in both directions, in spite of the unusually large number of people trying to enter from Bethlehem. Our intervention lead to 2 more windows are opened, considerably reducing the pressure.
DCL Ezyon, 10:30. Empty.

Abu Dis Area
Monday PM, 4.6.07, 14:15-18:15 PM
Sheikh Saed. Empty, except for many police barriers. It looks more forbidding than before. Slowly some people started to exit. They had to wait at a distance, first hand out their papers and wait for their ID number to be recorded before proceeding.
Bir Nabala. The CP has been moved away from the roundabout and the underpass of road 443. The roadblock was not manned. On the way to the Ramot Road all traffic was halted in the middle of the ascent on the potholed path towards the end. A soldier guarded by a civilian security guard was checking all documents, entering into vans and checking the trunks of vehicles. The queue was very long, apparently due to security warnings. Next to the CP on the main road a blue police van was guarding an official of the Internal Revenue, who was out mainly to catch taxi drivers. It took us over an hour to get to the CP, and meanwhile the line had lengthened to over 60 vehicles. The drivers, extremely angry, only wanted to get home after a day's work. They said were traveling within the territories with no intention of reaching either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. Some said that the soldier only intensified the check because we were watching. In more than two hours we saw no improvement in the situation other than a decrease in the number of waiting cars, because it was getting so much later.

Wednesday PM, 6.6.07
Olives terminal, 3:15. Empty.
Container CP: A long queue incoming. Then we hear on the loudspeaker the CO instructing the soldiers to move the line faster, and soon the queue is shorter. A new procedure for outgoing taxis: Those sampled for ID checks are sent down from the CP area to wait there while the IDs are checked. We timed one taxi for a 20 minute wait. Otherwise, all traffic moved smoothly.
Sheikh Saed: The CP looks pretty awful, with all the barriers, but nothing was happening while we were there.

Qalandiya Area
Thursday AM, 31.5.07
06.45 Anata. Many children on their way to school and apparently to a trip. Much traffic of pedestrians and cars. Everything runs quickly.
07.15 Ar-Ram. Very little traffic. An old woman and a man are sent back. Otherwise no detaineesinfo-icon - people learned the rules and submit to them.
07.50 Qalandiya. Fewer prisoners' families are waiting to pass. At 08.00 sharp they are summoned to the check-up. The woman soldier barks at them, but otherwise the atmosphere is one of courtesy and efficiency, as if it were a "normal" border. Can we make a wish?

Nablus Area

Sunday, 3.6.07, PM
13:35, on the way from Qalqilya. A military jeep sits parked across the roadway west of the checkpoint; no other checkpoint, but a long line of vehicles lined up to leave the OPT.
14:10, Jit Junction. Three vehicles waiting to be checked, coming from the East. Near the turn off to Sarra, we note that there's a large, red and white "no entry" road sign in Arabic, English and Hebrew.
15:00, Beit Iba. Palestinians and two ecumenical workers, leaving
Nablus, tell us of the IDF's latest deadly forays into the city. The ecumenical workers report that no soldiers were visible earlier today, but that repairs were being carried out to sewage, phone and electricity lines damaged last night.
The line of vehicles is endless, but the checking is neither that slow or that
thorough. From Deir Sharaf, never more than three our four vehicles. Very few pedestrians today. On the other hand, under the low key leadership of Second Lieutenant A., things run smoothly. Even A. is baffled by the detainee, a young man, an engineering student, who's already been detained for a couple of hours. His sister and two male family members are "visiting" him. We see the helplessness of the army in the face of the GSS (General Security Service). It's they who call for Mohammed's detention, and neither A., nor the lieutenant from the DCL (District Coordination Office), who arrives twenty minutes after us, are able to achieve much.
16:00. There the matter rests, and there things remain, in spite of numerous attempted phone calls by A., and discussions also with the DCL representative.

Monday, 4.6.07, AM
08.15, Jit. No check post.
08.25, Beit Iba. Workers complain of check posts near Shavei Shomron. A taxi coming from
Nablus is checked extremely thoroughly. Another van taking clothes is also stopped despite the fact he passes this way daily. The soldiers make the driver take out all his bags for inspection. Even the spare tyre is checked. A dog handler is called in.
We get to the actual check post. There is an Arab woman with an Israeli ID who is trying visit her sick 90 year old mother in
Nablus. The soldiers will not let her pass. When we try to plead with them, we get the answer: "We are just following orders". We call the officer in charge of public complaints who advises to fax documents to the office in Jerusalem to request permission for entry. We pass on the information to the woman.

Tuesday, 5.6.07, AM

07:00--08:20, Beit Iba. The pedestrian checkpoint is empty; people pass into Nablus without checking. At the vehicle checkpoint the entrance to Nablus is quick; on the exit side we can't see the end. A driver tells us he's been waiting about half an hour. A dog-trainer is waiting aside. The dog-assisted check is random, about one out of ten vehicles. On second thought, it may be not so random after all: vehicles are chosen whose drivers are young men adorned with beards and/or an Arafat-like keffiyeh, for example.

Thursday, 7.6.07, PM

14:33, Jit Junction. 53 vehicles on line from the east. Vehicle number 15 on line has already waited a half hour. We call the Army Hotline and are told that they will check it out. However, it is only at 16:14 that they say that the DCL (District Coordination Office) is about to send extra people to help Jit.
14:45, Beit Iba. Very little traffic coming into Nablus. Over 20 vehicles leaving Nablus . Waiting time: about an hour. Very few pedestrians. By 15:10 things go a bit faster. D., the commander, tells us that there is a hot alert today and that is the reason that there is more thorough checking of vehicles.
15:05. A taxi arrives at the checkpoint after waiting on line for an hour. The taxi is taken to the side to have the vehicle checked by the dog. The driver is told to stand far away. The dog jumps into the trunk and things are pulled apart in the trunk so that he can get his nose in each crevice. The dog is sent to sniff in the motor and in the wheels. He climbs all over the seats of the taxi leaving his dusty paw prints. His trainer tries vainly to remove some of the dog's dirt.
15:56. A truck I spotted near the end of the traffic line from Nablus at 15:12 has arrived to the checking booth and it has been chosen to be examined by the dog. Since the truck is too big to be moved to the side and checked by the dog, it remains in place and prevents another vehicle from passing through. A Palestinian is washing down the surface of the road and the barriers of the checkpoint. It seems this is a lame attempt at trying to keep the dangerous dust of the quarry at bay. We have often been told by the soldiers that they can only be kept on duty at Beit Iba for 3 week shifts because of the dangerous effect this quarry dust has on the lungs.
16:07. The truck moves on. The line of traffic from Nablus is even longer. Two vehicles on line to Nablus.
16:14. We call the Army Hotline about long line of traffic.
16:47. Still very little pedestrian traffic. There are now about 15 vehicles from Nablus and 2 to Nablus.

Tulkarm Area

Sunday, 3.6.07, PM

17:05, Anabta. We're shocked to see not one soldier at either of the two checking booths in the center of the roadway, but the line of vehicles from Tulkarm stretches into the far off distance, and into Tulkarm there is also a line, at least 19 vehicles. Quickly, as the five of us arrive, four soldiers appear from under the camouflage netting by the military look out tower where there's now a picnic table. One of them has a stack of IDs in his hand, and rather than deal with the endlessly patient Palestinians, one of them, in particular takes time out to tell us that taking photos is forbidden. He continues to waste time during the course of the shift, telling us off. The commander says not a word.
17:20. We've already noted that three cars with Israeli license plates have been stopped, coming from Tulkarm, their drivers -- Israeli citizens – are less patient than the Palestinians, argue, particularly with one soldier who is adamant (no, obnoxious) about everything. They get nowhere. We ask why their blue IDs (Israeli IDs) are being held. "They cut in front of other cars," we're told. So, the Israeli army is now into punishment of Israeli citizens? Further, when we ask when the IDs will be returned, we're told: "When there's no line from Tulkarm."
17:25. The line into Tulkarm has indeed now dissipated (the soldiers are back at work).
17:35. Three of the four soldiers now do no work, i.e., stop checking vehicles, and the line from Tulkarm grows again. The Palestinian Israelis remain at the checkpoint, and their blue IDs at the checking booth.
17:55, Ar-Ras. There are very few passing vehicles.

Monday, 4.6.07, AM

9.40, Anabta. 5 cars are waiting in line to Tulkarm; 14 waiting from Tulkarm. There are only 2 soldiers checking for both directions, and the line gets longer. Waiting tine: about 10 minutes.
10.00. About 20 cars in line.
10:40, Ar-Ras. 2 cars coming from Tulkarm.

Monday, 4.6.07, AM

07.00, eastern exit from Qalqilya.
There is a very long line of cars exiting the town. Each car is being stopped as well as all pedestrians. Waiting time: about 45 minutes. There are 30 cars in line.
07.55, Azun. There are about 5 cars in each direction. At 8.00 the soldiers take apart the spikes on the road and allow cars to enter and exit though still checking some cars.

Tuesday, 5.6.07, AM


06:15--06:35, Irtah. Many workers report that the facility opens on time and things run smoothly. This is especially notable in relation to the hair-raising reports from the facility in Barta'a (Reihan), recently privatized and run by the same security company. A man tells us that he, as well as his employer, travel all the way here because of this.
08:30--08:50, Anabta. Traffic passes quickly, usually without checks.

Ar-Ras. Hardly any traffic.

Thursday 7.6.07, PM

14:00–14:15, Qalqilya. Two soldiers checking outgoing vehicles; incoming vehicles not checked. A few vehicles on line.
17:02, flying checkpoint east of the Beit Lid intersection on route 557. Vehicles coming from the west are chcked. No line forming.
17:06, Anabta. No checking of vehicles going to Tulkarm; random checkinginfo-icon of vehicles leaving Tulkarm.