Sunday A M, 13.1.08
07:00 Bethlehem CP: Many outside, reporting that crossing took 40-50 minutes. Inside the lines were still long. People come in waves, reporting long lines at the other side. 5 windows were open. Every Sunday 3 parents with infants pass to dialysis in Shaarei Tsedek. One father told us that his wife, who just had another baby, had wanted to cross Saturday at 3AM to get medical help in a Jerusalem hospital for bleeding she was suffering from. She was NOT allowed to pass, and return to a Bethlehem hospital, leaving a pool of blood behind her.
08:00 Ezyon DCL: Turnstiles closed, because the metal detector was out of order. We called to no avail. No one could get in at least till 10:10 when we left. The same man from Wallaje who came last week and was asked to come back today, was there. He too was unable to get in.
Monday PM, 14.01.08, 11:45-15:15
Ezyon DCL. 5 men waiting, all for the GSS. They had been there, in the extreme cold, since early in the morning, and were quite desperate. We couldn't help.
Bethlehem CP, 14:30. Big crowds in both directions. Only two windows open. When 2 more opened, the queues diminished dramatically. When we turned to leave the security guard told a soldier: They are gone, you can close up", which immediately caused more crowding. So we stayed until there was no line.
Thursday AM, 17.1.08, 05:30 –-07:30
Bethlehem CP. Opened at 05:10. On the Israeli side only 4 windows open, in two of them, handprints are checked (in one of them, only arbitrarily some yes, most no), slowing the crossing. On the Palestinian side, as usual, many waiting. Passage takes about 45 minutes. To avoid pressure on the Israeli side, from time to time people are stopped. The terminal is very cold. People waiting since 4am complain that there is no shelter from cold or rain.
Abu Dis Area
Monday AM, 14.1.08
Container CP. A long long queue of cars of all kinds. Apparently there was an alert, so almost every car is checked. It takes much longer than on usual. A truck from Jericho carrying sheep is detained for veterinarian reasons. We discover that a vet's certificate is not enough, and the DCL is waiting for an OK from the Palestinian health services.
Monday AM, 14.1.08
06:30 Anata. Thousands of people, children still yawning, on their way to school, workers with blue IDs or permits. At least 10 BPs plus some civilian guards check them. It all goes rather fast, and we are asked politely not to disturb. We were amazed by the amount of cars and people coming through in a relatively short time.
Wednesday PM, 15.01.08
Ar Ram. No detainees, 40 cars, undergoing a very thorough check.
Qalandiya CP. Only one lane open, and few people passing. The soldiers take their time. Then an announcement that another lane would open. Some from lane 1 ran over, and sure enough, within minutes, lane 1 was closed. Our attempts to help took some time to work. A man who had accompanied his brother to a hospital in Ramallah now wanted to return to Gaza. He was not allowed to pass, and said he had no money and no place to sleep. A woman with a blue ID has a dead sister buried in Jerusalem. Her mother, with a green ID, cannot visit the grave. It was bitterly cold. At least 100 people were in the queue, and just 2 lanes open.
Thursday AM, 17.1.08
Anata, 06.30. Two lanes of traffic, every driver checked. Many children on their way to school.
Ar-Ram, 07.10 Few cars, each checked briefly. Even schoolchildren must approach the BP one by one. Some had to open their schoolbags.
Qalandiya, 07.30. A physician from Augusta Victoria complained that passage here takes an hour, and so he had taken to travel via Hizmeh. From what we could see, passage took about 15 minutes, still too long. All five lanes were open until 8am, when prisoners' families started to pass through two lanes. Then suddenly one of the remaining lanes closed. "One of the machines isn't working". We drew the attention of the policeman in charge, and immediately another lane opened.
Sunday PM, 13.01.08
15:15. Beit Iba - The Humanitarian line is long, at least 20 older men, women and children. The two turnstiles are filled with young men, at least 25 in each lane. We are asked not to stand in the middle of the CP. One detainee in the compound being checked by the GSS. Checking is slow and thorough. But the many large packages, often containing new blankets for the freezing nights, are not checked as in weeks past. The DCL is lenient. In the bitter cold, men coming from Nablus are told to remove jackets and belts.
15:30. An intermission. The students, returning from their first day of the new semester, just wait and wait. Hardly any vehicles, but plenty of soldiers in the vehicle checking area, including the inevitable dog soldier and a very large dog. A soldier takes over from the DCL rep in the humanitarian line, and immediately starts shouting, in loud Hebrew. Even the CO can't quiet him. He moves him to checking young men after they've come through turnstile, where he continues to
harrass and provoke the Palestinians.
16:15. The scene could not be worse. The large Alsatian is rummaging through a shiny SUV. A donkey cart, next to it, has had to turn out all the new blue jeans piled into it. Next to it, another donkey cart loads and replaces jeans that have had to be removed a few minutes earlier. Bags and briefcases are checked one by one at the table; underage men who try to get into the Humanitarian line are sent back.
Sunday PM, 13.1.08
Highway 5. Past Ariel the highway narrows into a pot-holed road. Marda village is at its feet. Until a few days ago its inhabitants could access the main road by foot, but this passage has been blocked with barbed wire, so now can do so only through the village's main entrance, further west, which is blocked with a dirt mound and an iron barrier that prevents vehicle passage. Access to Zeita village and its neighbors is also blocked.
Zaatara-Tapuach Junction. 17 vehicles southbound from Nablus. There will be 13 vehicles in the same direction on our way back in the evening.
Huwwara village-town under curfew 9am-3pm. Why? "Someone threw stones at a settler car".
15:10, Huwwara CP. 3 long queues of male pedestrians. 2 special side lines active all the time, 2 checking posts for vehicles exiting Nablus, one of them manned by sniffer-dog and trainer, the dog leaping and drooling all over the car interior. An elderly man, hardly able to walk, drags himself along the side line, supported by two relatives. He barely crosses the distance to the taxi park, stopping to rest every few yards, one of his eyes bandaged. A vehicle carrying lambs is not allowed passage, he lacks the special permit. His own vehicle is waiting on the other side of the CP, not allowed to exit Nablus. Even the DCL rep cannot help. The lambs are taken off the vehicle and led on the road to the other side of the CP. "Wait! I haven't given you permission!" the soldier yells.
A new line at the concrete compound: THE RED LINE. We are required to stand behind it only. It is a meter and a half further back from the former white line and was drawn, says the soldier, by the CO. At 17:15, the young men still fill the shed, reporting over two hours of waiting. They exit the turnstiles frozen, coat and belt in hand.
Beit Furiq CP. 15:40 - 17:10. It is extremely cold. No detainees, hardly any pedestrians. Passage is rapid. Belongings are inspected on the ground at the feet of the soldier until their owners pick them up and speed away from the cold. Few vehicles waiting in line, about ten minutes each. This morning, say the drivers, they had to wait an hour and a half.
Thursday AM, 17.1.08
Beit Iba, 08.30. A short line of pedestrians, passage fast. Some complain about the need to remove their shoes (which beep the magnometer).
Sunday PM, 13.01.08
13:10 On the seam line at Habla. The 3-4 gates which separate Palestinians from their lands are already closed. They were open an hour during midday, and first thing this morning, and they'll be open again in the late afternoon for people to go from their own lands to their own homes. The locals, as always, are welcoming and stoic.
13:45 Qalqiliya. The entrance to the OPT is narrowed by red, plastic barricades placed across the road, but no blue police here. The line in both directions long, the line from Qalqiliya especially. Each vehicle is stopped, peered into, front as well as trunk, and then proceeds. On soldier takes a break. No attempt to speed up the process.
Towards Qalqiliya, Israeli vehicles without proper permits are turned back, except for one, a minivan whose driver sweet talks the reservist that he passes here daily, without problems.
14:05 -- a Hummer arrives, bearing more soldiers. The line into Qalqiliya is no more, but the line from the city continues to be endless, "We check from Qalqiliya, not to Qalqiliya" The opposite of the usual.
17:00 Anabta. Traffic in both directions flows freely, Israeli and Palestinian.
Thursday AM, 17.1.08, AM
07.00 Jubara. A line of cars, in both directions, pedestrians too. The soldiers just do not function. It is freezing cold. With 5 cars in line, it took the last one 20 minutes to pass. For the hour we were there the lines kept their size. In line there were donkeys, horses, mules, cars, old and young. A very old man, who walking with difficulty, was not allowed to enter Jubara. He slowly hobbled his way back towards A-Ras. A man with 2 full plastic bags, on his way to the village, was detained for checkoing and eventually was not permitted passage.
08.10 Anabta. Soldiers huddled in their little checking cubicles let the cars pass with a slight raise of their hand.
Monday AM, 14.1.08, 06:30-08:45
06:30 Sansana (Meitar) crossing. 3 groups of Palestinian workers warm themselves around small bonfires on the Israeli side while waiting for their rides.
Route 60. No pedestrians and few vehicles. -- too early? The road is being upgraded.
Hebron. Soldiers in the usual places smile politely from under their wool hats. No delays, no lines. Children slide with delight on some ice from frozen tap water.
Shuyukh Junction. Students, mainly girls, crossed the road where Israeli vehicles continue to travel at very high speeds, no pedestrian crosswalk.
Tuesday PM, 15.1.08
El Aroub, 12:40. Neither soldiers nor children, because of the 2 week holiday season. The owner of the grocery store told us that the day before at about 17:00 soldiers ordered him to close his store. Children have thrown stones from within the camp on bypassing cars and the army was about to enter the camp to catch them. He heard shootings and felt tear gas. The soldiers entered the camp through the only entrance open for vehicles and closed it for the time of the incursion, so that no one could enter or exit the camp.
Hebron. No people on the streets except soldiers. Walking by so many CPs we experience the claustrophobia the Palestinian experience daily.
Tel Rumeida. Soldiers check bags of every Palestinian passing. Settler cars race up the steep road.
Ofer Military Court
Monday AM, 14.1.08
We heard 5 of the 14 cases scheduled for today.
At 10:35 the electricity went off, the judges returned at 11:00. DK is a very energetic and effective president. She tries to uphold some order, addresses the defendants by name, makes sure that they understand every detail of the indictment and sometimes speaks to them in Arabic. This only underscores the farce. Everything is done as if this was a regular court, with judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, interpreters, typists and even a public.
Of 9123 cases concluded in the military courts in the year 2006, only 23 found the defendant not guilty. What is negotiated in the hearings is only the amount of punishment. In none of the 5 cases was any evidence presented. The presentation of evidence was delayed, and the rescheduling was discussed with great ardor. In 3 cases the hearing of witnesses was delayed to February-April. In another, the testimony will be presented in writing.