Weekly Digest 20.1.08-26.1.08 | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

Weekly Digest 20.1.08-26.1.08

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Friday, 1 February, 2008

Bethlehem Area


Tuesday AM, 22.01.08


Bethlehem CP, 06:40: Fewer people than usual outside and inside. 4 open posts, lines very short,

crossing quick. Was it the stormy weather? A group of people who tried to find shelter from the heavy rain under the very small roof at the entrance, were driven away rudely by the very unpleasant civilian guard.


Wednesday PM, 23.1.08


15.35, Bethlehem CP. 2 booths open, 30 people waiting in the large hangar. The soldier receiving them was efficient and polite, speaking in Hebrew and Arabic. It was a cold afternoon (5-7 degrees) with a piercing icy wind. When larger numbers of Palestinians arrived, they had to wait outside the building, which they did in a quiet and orderly way, until the security guard ushered them in, about 20 at a time. When about 60 people were waiting, we asked for another booth to be opened. The soldiers replied that he was forbidden from talking to us. But at 15.55, booths were open and the Palestinians passing smoothly and quickly (5 minutes outdoors, 2-3 minute indoors). A few women, including one with a babyinfo-icon in a sling, were given priority both by the waiting Palestinians and by the soldiers at the booths.


Abu Dis Area


Tuesday PM, 22.1.08


Abu Dis is like a ghost town. Nobody coming or going through the old bawabe. Almost no one in the town center, where most shops are closed. The Cliff Hotel area gets shoddier from week to week.


Sheikh Saed. A few people going back and forth. The shops there are also closed, having lost their Israeli customers.


Olives crossing. Almost completely deserted, not even taxis to pick up or drop off people.


Container CP. A line of vehicles stretching as far as the eye could see in both directions. Within seconds of our arrival, it started moving very quickly. Occasional spot checks held up the lines, but every so often, the BP would escape the cold into the booth, and cars would speed through. 20 Palestinians were waiting for their IDs below the CP. When we left, 25 minutes later, they were still waiting in the pouring rain.


Wednesday PM, 23.1.08


15:15, Olives terminal, Palestinian side. A cold day, and only few people attempt to cross at this hour. We were able to enter the terminal, and so crossed ourselves. After 2 turnstiles (both governed electronically, but the first was open to all), one comes to the plate glass windows where one shows one's ID. Coats and bags are laid on a roller into a magnometer, like at airports. Passage was swift and eventless in both directions.


16:00, Container CP. Just a few cars in each direction, no queue, no delay, no detaineesinfo-icon. Passage swift. A group of workers trudged up the hill from the direction of Bethany (since the road is one-way), and they too crossed in no time.


Qalandiya Area


Thursday AM, 24.1.08


A foggy morning.


06.25, Hizme CP. A very long line of traffic. Same upon our return at 08.30.


06.30, Qalandiya. 3 lines of people extending all the way to the parking lot. The few women and families with little children proceeded to the head of the queue. Passage took about 20 minutes. 5 windows were open. Some people had to remove their coats. By 07.30, pressure was over.


Road 443 Area


Wednesday PM, 23.1.08


Road 443 connects Jerusalem with Ben-Gurion airport. Palestinians whose land was expropriated for this road were told it would be a "Peace Road", accessible to all the communities neighboring it (totaling about 20,000 people). For a time it was. The villages bordering it created industrial and commercial activities that thrived from their relations with Israelis who had easy access to them and bought products at much reduced prices. One such venture was a marble factory belonging to A's family. We saw what is left of their enterprise after Israel laid cement blocks that prevent transportation of goods between the villages and road 443: dismantled machinery, men sitting around with nothing to do, small slabs of marble scattered around. 5 cement blocks destroyed the economic life of these communities. They also cannot export their products to Ramallah, because what was a 10-minute drive has become a 1.5 hour drive on bad roads that make transportation of marble slates very dangerous.


Beit Sira CP. Local drivers waiting for the builders, who left their homes at 4am, to take them to building sites inside Israel or in settlements. These drivers spend most of their day just standing around the CP. The alternative is to sit at home. One told us that since he cannot get a permit to work outside the village, a friend lent him an old car in which brings workers to the CP in the morning and picks them up in the afternoon after work. He makes about 30 NIS a day (charging 2.5 NIS each way per person). With this he can still save face in front of his wife and children. "All our life is full of danger. I am 35 and have not had a good day in my life. How can you help us?"


Among the returning builders was K, who told us that he and his 2 sons worked in Nazareth for 2 months but were paid only for one. The employer owes each of them about 3,000 NIS, and despite innumerable calls, refuses to pay the debt. Such exploitation is not new, but it becomes rampant when the authorities ensuring that the Occupation continues unharmed work together.


Nablus Area


Sunday PM, 20.1.08


Shavei Shomron. We occasionally revisit this once busy CP, now closed and forgotten, the main road looking more and more like many of the OPT's smaller unkept roads. The colorful barricade is tightly locked, and not a soldier in sight.


15:15 Beit Iba. Few vehicles coming out of Nablus, never more than 5-6 in either direction, but a

plethora of soldiers, with little to do. The situation is reversed at the pedestrian CP, where there is a huge mass of people, mainly at the turnstiles, both working. 60-80 plus young men wait patiently to come back from Nablus midst the usual din of shouting soldiers and shrieking magnetometers. At times the humanitarian line is also full. When it's empty, many young men try to advance on it, usually to no avail. The DCL rep tries to facilitate, but is put into the awkward position of dealing with men who plead and plead, occasionally with some success.


8 young men in the detention compound, who we can no longer reach. They tried to go round the CP. No, not as "punishment", which is not allowed, but as an "army rule which allows holding them for two hours." Other young men who've reached the checking booth are turned back to wait, all over again, at the endlessly long turnstile lines. Each has to remove "everything that is metal." Belts, phones, money, etc. Plastic bags and briefcases are also examined, and the process is endlessly slow and mindless.


16:00 -- at the vehicle checking area, all buses are checked, soldiers entering and checking IDs. An elderly woman steps out of the humanitarian line, hobbling badly, trying to mount the bus to help her across the CP. A soldier at the bus doorway refuses to let her in, despite the DCL rep, and she continues her way painful way across.


Tulkarm Area


Sunday PM, 20.1.08


12:50 Habla (on the seam line). The relaxed soldiers know nothing about when the gatesinfo-icon reopen after they close them at 13:00. There is nothing written down, but the locals are expected to know the rules. However, this batch of soldiers are easygoing, and the locals are relieved.


14:00 Qalqiliya. We are greeted, in English, with: "I'm not allowed to talk to you." before we say a word. A long line of vehicles out of Qalqiliya, being checked oh so slowly, and the same for an equally long line of vehicles entering Qalqiliya. A car with yellow Israeli license plates is not allowed to enter the city. A pickup truck was pulled over to the side, where the policemen prod its tires, look at numbers, peer under the hood, cross to their jeep, bring the men over, return to the pickup truck, and on and on, for 25 minutes! One of the four passengers says it's a government vehicle, but the police believe it's stolen. Finally, the passengers cross on foot, and the vehicle is driven away by a policeman "to have it checked".


17:20 Anabta. In the darkness, a slow endless parade of vehicles both to and from Tulkarm; as the streams approach the soldiers, lights are turned off for soldiers to better view the occupants. Nobody is stopped, IDs not checked.


17:50 Jubara. Flashing lights on the roadway, and of the police car at the entry. Every car, ingoing or outgoing, is stopped.


18:00 A-Ras. Darker, but less cold here. Few vehicles in either direction. Taxis coming from Tulkarm are stopped, IDs checked by flashlights.


Hebron Area


Sunday PM, 20.1.08


16:45. Sansana-Meitar CP - As last week, few workers returning, and they are processed immediately. The delays we saw on the first day of "privatization" appear to have disappeared.


Tuesday AM, 22.1.08


05:00. Tarqumiya, - A few transits on the road. Many workers had already passed. They thanked us for coming, and said that we aren't there, they are held up or harassed, sometimes forced to stand in the rain for up to 45 minutes. The wait now was up to 10 minutes. It was pouring and freezing, but no one complained about the weather. Around 850 workers passed between 5 AM and 7 AM when we left.