Wednesday AM, 20.2.08
06:45 Bethlehem CP. Temperature is close to 0 and the wind is fierce. 4 stations open. Few people in line.
08:45 DCL Ezyon. The waiting room is empty. Two men enter on police matters. A Bethlehem resident had an 8 day permit to visit his brother, who has a blue ID, undergoing surgery in Haddasah. The DCL revoked it, and replaced it with a permit for one day only. Our attempts to help failed.
Thursday AM, 21.2.08, 06:30 –-08:30
Bethlehem CP. 4 booths open. No long queues on the Israeli side. Apparently few on the other side, too, because of the ice on the road from Hebron. Nevertheless, it took them 25 minutes waiting outside for the first inspection and another 20 minutes to pass the metal detectors.
Abu Dis Area
Wednesday PM, 20.2.08
Container CP, 14:55. Light traffic only, most vehicles just waved through. Waiting time 1-2 minutes. One car was being thoroughly searched on the side, so that traffic flow was unaffected. Situation was similar when we returned 1.5 hours later.
Al-Ezariya, 15:35. At the entrance is a previously reported yet new red sign which says in Hebrew, Arabic and English:
PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY TERRITORY
AREA XX AHEAD
NO ENTRY FOR ISRAELIS
ENTRY ILLEGAL BY ISRAELI LAW
Following the word "area", a letter had been painted over and obliterated in all languages (where we put an XX), presumably the letter A. Indeed, this is not area A, and so of course it is not illegal to enter. Al Ezariya is replete with vehicles sporting Israeli license plates. We encountered at least 5 Israeli police vehicles, some BP, some civilian. Nobody paid the least bit attention to us "illegals".
Olives terminal, 16:00. 25-30 cars in the parking lot but the terminal deserted. We walked through and 2 bored but surprised girl soldiers waved us through. On our way back through the turnstiles, we happened to follow a small family, father, mother and baby wrapped in a blanket. Squeezing through the turnstile while carrying a baby is not easy.
A-Ram – Qalandiya Area
Sunday PM, 17.2.08
15:15 Qalandiya: Two pedestrian operating, crowded with 50 people each. Passage took about 15 minutes. 3-4 people waiting on benches in the shed to enter the DCL. At 15:50 a man waiting for the DCL was told it was already closed (it is supposed to be open till 4pm), but nonetheless was let in. He told us that the people sitting on the benches had been waiting since 3PM, and still not managed to enter.
Monday PM, 18.2.2008, 14:00-17:00
Road 443. Construction of walls, fences, security roads and additional watchtowers continues. Each road leading to Palestinian villages is blocked off with concrete slabs. Beyond the concrete slabs at Khartaba were many cars awaiting passengers. The drivers were anxious to tell us their plight, primarily unemployment. Only one person in ten gets a permit. Those under 30 are automatically refused. It takes over an hour to reach Ramallah, the roads are in an abominable state. From the watchtowers everything is photographed, like satellite pictures, but nevertheless there are occasional round-ups in the villages. The soldiers arrive at 1:00 AM and stay until 4:00 AM waking up everyone, and entering with dogs, which scare the children. They count the number of people in each house, despite the having all the data. In the early mornings, workers who can will wait from 03:00 until they are slowly let in after 05:00 in order to get to work at 07:00. The soldiers harass them, especially a particularly vicious girl who screams obscenities.
The weather was turning nasty and we drove to the Bitunia CP, which was empty.
Thursday AM, 21.2.08
06.30 Anata. 3 armed vehicles and numerous BP, soldiers and civilian guards, all seeming singularly relaxed and good-humored. Heavy traffic moved slowly as usual through 2 lanes.
07:30 Qalandiya. All lanes open, and all machines functioning. At the outside carousels, movement seemed slow. The crowd was unusually heavy for this late hour. Instructions were blared so loudly on the loudspeakers as to be practically unintelligible. Women, schoolchildren and teachers used a separate gate (which would later be used for prisoners' families, who were allowed through only at 8.40, later than the 8am usual).
Sunday, 17.2.08, PM
16:15, Beit Iba. Men 16--35 cannot go southwards from Tulkarm and Jenin -- nor north, since north is Israel -- not much ground left. As this policy is imposed without prior announcement people are sometimes unable to get back on time, and cannot reach their homes. We witnessed this several times to day, as students trying to return home from Nablus were turned back. Elderly Palestinians passing through the 'humanitarian line' discover upon arrival that they are not old enough, and are ordered to return via a tall concrete rail.
Sunday, 17.2.08, PM
17:18, Azun. The entrance is still blocked by dirt mounds.
17:23, Qalqilya. The CP is manned by reserve troopers. This is the only entrance and exit to a city surrounded on all sides by a wall. The soldiers seem at ease; the Palestinians less so.
Sunday, 17.2.08, PM
Jubara. Few cars, as Israeli cars with permits (Israeli Palestinians) are not allowed into Tulkarm. A Palestinian tells us that his employer is made to pay a thousand shekels a month to Israeli authorities, a sum he often discounts from the worker's wages.
13:10, Anabta. Four soldiers. Three cars in line at the entrance to Tulkarm, six waiting to exit. Israeli cars and blue ID holders are being ordered to turn back. 'There's a curfew today'
The children gate. A young man is detained because upon return from Israel, it was discovered he has no permit.
14:30, Ar-Ras. Five cars in line. The road leading away from the cp is so badly damaged, that cars and trucks have to drive with one wheel on the damaged road, the other in a pot hole. The soldiers' attitude is sovereign, they won't answer any questions and they don't care whether their orders are understood. Two young men are detained for half an hour, no reason given, they say.
15:01, the children gate. The young man is still there together with two other detainees
15:15, Anabta. Mayhem. Dozens of cars stretching as far as the eye can see. The checkpoint is blocked for some reason. People are extremely agitated. 25 minutes after our arrival the CP is open. When we leave at 16:00 there is still a long line of cars, and tension is in the air.
Sunday AM, 17.2.08
Tarqumiya CP. 2 merchants waiting in the hope that they would be let through after waiting since 4AM. Their vehicle had been allowed through, but their trading permits had been confiscated despite being valid! Why? Because they admitted to being from the rag trade, and his line of business should be limited. Our attempts to assist them failed. 4 bus-loads of prisoners' families were being checked. Checking was slow, "for lack of manpower".
Sansana CP. 80-100 men queuing at the turnstile. Passage timed at 20 minutes to the Israeli side. We were told that some 900 had already passed 300 more would. The last few workers passed at 7am. Still no change in opening hours on weekends.
Ramadin: The road from Ramadin has been blocked with boulders by the army, but was not manned.
Thursday AM, 21.2.08
Tarqumiya CP, 05:45. Few workers waiting in line. Groups of workers kept arriving and passing in 5 minutes. A simpt change made all the difference: instead of having to put their papers into the slot in the concrete CP, the workers could pass them directly through the open windows, allowing the soldiers to examine the papers without having to leaf through looking for the correct page.