Weekly Digest 2.3.08-8.3.08 | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

Weekly Digest 2.3.08-8.3.08

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Sunday, 9 March, 2008

Bethlehem Area


Sunday AM, 2.3.08

07:00 Bethlehem CP: Many people, and crossing is as usual, despite the weekend events. Only two entrances open on the Bethlehem side, and crossing is very slow. On the Israeli side five are open, but then one closed, leaving the line orphaned. People started pushing and running to the other lines. Havoc ended.

Ezyon DCL. It was cold in the waiting room. 2 settlers were waiting at the turnstile. "Chutzpa [i.e., "outrageous"]", said one, "we have to wait, because they let in the Arabs ahead of us! At Beth El I go in all the way to headquarters. The IDF functions like the Histadrut [i.e., the Labor Union]". "Tell me", asks the other, "while I am trying to help a young Palestinian, don't they break into our cars here?"


Tuesday, 4.3.08, AM

06:40, Bethlehem CP. 4 posts functioning, lines terribly crowded, people stood crushed against each other. Apparently it's the same on the other side. The CO was helpless, in spite of sincerely trying to help.

At 07:45 the pressure seemed to be alleviated, but the entrance at the Palestinian side was blocked, and every time just few people were allowed in.


Abu Dis Area


Monday AM, 3.3.08

Container CP, 06:30. Almost deserted. All cars just went by, unstopped. The BPs were relaxed and friendly.

Sheikh Saed. Also deserted.


Monday PM, 3.3.08, 14:00-17:30

Sheikh Sa'ed. The CP looks increasingly "professional". About 100 meters of the nearby road are now designated "sterileinfo-icon". This means no parking (but garbage can still be tossed there...) Hardly any pedestrians pass.

The radio reported unrest in the territories and stone-throwing in Jerusalem, but driving through the Old City we saw nothing unusual.

Olives Terminal. Many cars apparently waiting for passengers.

Container CP. Traffic moved smoothly in both directions, no queues. Most vehicles didn't have to wait more than 5 minutes. Some random checkinginfo-icon, but most private vehicles pass without any check. When a taxi is checked, the driver collects the passengers' IDs and hands them to the soldier, who takes them inside to check them on the computer. A bus was held up this way for about half an hour, another one was released after twenty minutes. Many workers on their way home arrived at the CP after having been dropped off.


Tuesday PM, 5.3.08

Container CP: Huge lines of traffic in both directions. Within minutes of our arrival, traffic started moving much more quickly. The DCL rep explained that this was the busiest time of the day. Indeed, traffic was voluminous. Several transits whose passengers' IDs had been taken for inspection were waiting below the CP, but most were soon returned. 15:30. Large numbers of workers - most over 35 - arrived, and passed quickly and without incident.


A-Ram – Qalandiya Area

Tuesday PM, 5.3.08

Anata. Increased security -- 10 security personnel of all kinds. Because of the weekend disturbances? Traffic moved quite quickly, though there were frequent inspections of cars into Jerusalem.


Thursday AM, 6.3.08

06:20-06:40 Ras Hamis (Upper Anata). This CP opens at 06:30 only for children under the age of 17, and in the PM for the children going to and from school. Gatesinfo-icon promptly opened at 06:30, and all was quiet.

06:40-07:00 Anata. Heavy traffic, much congestion, many police including 2 mounted and BP. Random checks assured that most vehicles, including vans, pass within 5-10 minutes. Though busy and hectic, things seemed under control.


Ras Hamis, 07:15 Children crossing. One soldier was mounted on the jeep with his gun constantly aimed at the children as they were passing.

07:20 Qalandiya CP. Increased crowd size and little movement through the turnstiles. A large crowd yet only 2 out of the 3 turnstiles functional. Apparently the 3rd turnstile broke down 3 days ago. People said they were in line since 5:30am. The turnstiles opened and closed erratically. Tensions mounted, and some younger men tried to climb over the fence. People complained to us about the situation. Apparently, Atarot and Ramot closed down last week and all traffic was rerouted to Qalandiya. The bathrooms remained locked.

At 08:40 the policeman who opened the side line for women and students disappeared. 2 pregnant women, as well as parents with infants, were waiting to pass. Our efforts to call the DCL to assist met with promises, but no action. We took action ourselves, and helped them through, asking all standing in line to allow them easier passage, which worked well.


Nablus Area


Sunday, 2.3.08, PM

Listeners to the news would have concluded today that the Third Intifada had broken out throughout the West Bank. After deliberating for a short moment, we agreed to proceed to our usual monitoring shift and see facts on the ground.

Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction. No waiting lines, hardly any vehicles. Very thin Palestinian traffic on the roads.

Huwwara village is under total curfew, all shops and workshops are sealed, very few people seen scurrying along the abandoned streets.

16:00 Huwwara CP. Just outside the CP, 7 vehicles parked, their drivers and passengers standing by them in a stalled stance that speaks volumes. DCL's captain A. arrives within 10 minutes, announcing that he knows all the cases. They all traveled on "Madison road", breaking the law. Why, we asked, is there no road sign explicitly stating that this is illegal? And why do the soldiers who observe them doing so not prevent them from getting on that road, preferring to let them proceed, then 'catch them' at it, and punishing them with detention. Then he informs us (repeatedly) that they (the Palestinian drivers) are all 'fucking our minds' and releases a truck carrying oxygen tanks and after a while a doctor from Huwwara village who was driving his own car. "Just for your sake. If he's a doctor he is intelligent and he is still living in Huwwara so he should know where he is permitted to drive and where he isn't". We said that sometimes people are in a hurry, or tired, and the alternative road for Palestinians is long winding and potholed and it is only human to choose the shorter, smoother road since "the law" is not legal, thus the violation is no violation. A medication carrier is then released too. All the others are kept waiting until 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 'do their time' of punishment. The soldiers kept their eyes on the watch and stuck to the letter of every second. Then another crane-truck and a private car were also detained for punishment for the same sin, kept 3 or 4 or 6 hours…

At the turnstiles, three checking posts are active, an especially vulgar military policewoman working in the middle post. Pedestrian traffic is rather thin, but the Palestinians still report waiting over an hour and a half. The special side line for women, children and the elderly moves quickly without delay.

Palestinians report that at 1 p.m., the checkpoint was closed for a short while and all Palestinians on the northern side of the checkpoint were instructed to sit on the ground.

17:00. The line is down to a trickle.

15:15, Beit Furiq. We had heard on the radio that there were rioting and stone-throwing in Huwwara as well as around the colony Itamar (on the apartheid road to Beit Furiq) so we first drove to Beit Furiq. We saw absolutely no military presence or colonists on our way there, everything looked as usual. In Beit Furiq village, taxi drivers said, everything is normal, no curfew, and passage through the checkpoint today "was alright". At the CP itself, few pedestrians who pass quickly, and no waiting vehicles. One checking lane is used both for incoming and outgoing traffic, and for lack of cars waiting is very short.


Sunday, 2.3.08, PM

13:45, Jit Junction. The rolling checkpoint is back, at least from the Beit Iba direction. 13 vehicles wait going down the hill.

Junction of 60 and 55. Another rolling checkpoint in the direction of Anabta. Nearly two hours later, this rolling checkpoint is no more.

14:00, Beit Iba. We’re told that Anabta has been closed for one and a half hours, and that there is a lot of tension in Palestinian cities today, based on the IDF’s incursion into Gaza. This is confirmed, also, at the checkpoint by people coming from Nablus where, we’re told, there are hordes of angry people in the street.

Although there are practically no vehicles coming out of Nablus, the line of vehicles trying to get to the city from the Deir Sharaf direction is endless, the checking both of pedestrians and of cars, painfully slow.

15:00. The 11-12 soldiers on duty spend an inordinate amount of time chatting with each other and generally making checkpoint life as difficult as they know how. Often, there are three soldiers by the turnstiles, standing, smiling or simply staring at the 50, or so, young men waiting patiently in line to get through. There are fewer people than usual trying to get home, but the checking of young men – minus shoes, belts and jackets and waiting, waiting, goes on in painstakingly slow fashion.

15:20. The line of vehicles, waiting to enter Nablus, is long and has not moved in all the time we’ve been at Beit Iba.


Tuesday, 4.3.08, AM

07:15--09:00, Beit Iba. All men are checked thoroughly, IDs, sometimes bag as well. Still, no lines form. The students, who are the bulk of the passers, save time by carrying their books in their hands.

Vehicular traffic on both sides is sparse. There is a dog-handler, and random vehicles are checked by the dog.


Qalqiliya Area

Sunday, 2.3.08, PM

12: 40, Habla. The agricultural gate is open. Little action.

12: 55, Qalqilya. Border Police check most vehicles entering Palestine (most unusual). No line to go into Qalqilya, no checking at all and few cars leaving the city.

13:30, Azun. A Border Police jeep and an army ambulance stand where once was the entrance to the town. Pedestrians wind their way around the tangles of razor wire, over the mounds of earth, piled several meters high, carefully making their way.

15:30, Anabta. No cars coming out of Tulkarm. Israeli cars are allowed into Tulkarm with no fuss. Only one yellow taxi is stopped, and has been for an hour, the driver being “punished” for some unspecified crime.

15:45. The line of vehicles into Tulkarm gets longer. What is clear is that once we move away from checkpoint central, the line begins to move.

16:15, Jubara. Uneventful

16:30, Gate 753. Checking is slow.

16:35, Ar-Ras. At least ten vehicles coming from Tulkarm are waiting in line. IDs are thoroughly checked as are the backs of cars, glove compartments as well as trunks.


Tuesday, 4.3.08, AM

06:45--07:00, Irtah. A long time since our last visit, and nothing has changed. Workers are still coming out of the facility complaining about the long wait and the extra random check at what is called "the rooms".

09:15--09:30, Anabta . No vehicles queuing up.

09:45--10:30, Jubara and Ar-Ras. The saga of the closed gate goes on. The key is there, but the checkpoint commander is unfamiliar with the permission granted to us to enter the village. Eventually the gate is opened for us. The village is deserted as usual, and down in Ar-Ras hardly any vehicles pass.


Hebron Area


Sunday AM, 2.3.08, 06:30 - 10:00

Meitar-Sansana CP: It takes approx. 15-20 minutes to pass. One worker told that although he has a 24-hour permit, on Thursday at 8pm he was told that the CP was closed and he should use Tarqumiya. It took an hour and a half before the gate opened for him. The condition of the lavatories on the Palestinian side is appalling. On 3 lavatories is a sign for men, women and disabled, but they are locked. The open latrine, without running water, is in a horrid condition, "even a dog wouldn't use it", a man commented.

Hebron. Massive military presence, probably due to the protest strike. Apparently, few students and teachers showed up at schools. Tel-Rumeida. Soldiers with pointed rifles were encircling the building next to the new grocery. Soon they left, rushing to "autonomous" Hebron, to procure "law and order". They would not exchange a single word with us. The remaining two soldiers up the hill inspected meticulously with a magnometer each passer-by, old or young. A settler rewarded them with cups of coffee.

At the CP by the Patriarchs' Cave, the soldiers detained passers-by, for inspection of their IDs, but not longer than a quarter of an hour.