Weekly Digest 23.3.08-29.3.08 | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

Weekly Digest 23.3.08-29.3.08

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Friday, 4 April, 2008

Bethlehem Area

Sunday AM, 23.3.08
07:00 Bethlehem CP: Purim closureinfo-icon. 2 windows open. A group of Italian pilgrims cross to Jerusalem to go to church on this Easter Sunday. The shrill voices of the female soldiers on the other side disturb the silence, railing the nerves.
Ezyon DCL. A soldier screams through the loudspeaker.
Monday PM, 24.3.08 , 15:00-18:00
Ezyon DCL. A hot day. Not a car parked, not a soul around, although this is after a week's closure. Apparently everything is now being dealt with at the Bethlehm DCL, to which we presently have no access.
Tunnel CP. A long line of vehicles, but no detaineesinfo-icon.
Tuesday, 25.3.08, AM
06:40, Bethlehem CP. We hear shouts even before we enter the CP – another ordinary morning in Bethlehem CP. Five checking posts are open. The crowding is horrible. The security men and the soldiers in the booths try to put some order in the mess by shouting and stopping to check documents altogether, and are surprised that it doesn’t help. “They are animalsinfo-icon,” complains a security man. He looks authentically insulted by the incapacity of Palestinians to understand how to behave nicely.
About twenty minutes later two policemen emerge from the offices, to see what is going on, and then an army officer. Even the nice DCL rep from last week is there. They all stand and watch, like us. So now there is a massive presence of law and order in the CP, and still nothing changes. One policeman approaches us. He is hurt by our reports. He wants us to note that it is all the fault of the army, not the police’s. Why, at least, a sixth checking post is not opened? we ask. The computer is out of order, is the expected answer. In the two and something years that we are coming to Bethlehem CP we saw maybe five times that six posts were functioning all at the same time.
We leave at around 08:30, and people are still squeezed against each other in the terrible crowding.
Abu Dis Area
Monday AM, 24.3.08
Container CP, 8am. A line of detained buses full of pupils from Hebron and Bethlehem are on a day trip to Jericho. It is a very hot day, and some (the teenagers) have been waiting over an hour while their Ids are being checked. In the buses with young children, only the teachers are being checked. The procedure takes a very long time and the officer's cockiness causes tension. When the long lines of other cars are finally let through, things start moving in all directions.
Monday PM, 24.3.08
Olives terminal. A terribly hot day. The terminal was almost deserted, though many cars were in the parking lot.
Container CP. Many more BPs than usual. 3 detained vehicles. After 10 minutes, all Ids were returned and the CO told us to take cover, because there was going to be an exercise, which we witnessed from the shop -- all 5 minutes of it. Traffic then moved through very quickly.
Qalandiya Area
Sunday PM, 23.3.08
15:50 Ar-Ram CP: Impressive presence of soldiers and civilian security personnel. Absence of Palestinians.
16:09 Qalandiya: 50 people waiting before the northern carousel, and lines in the 2 operating passageways were full. Suddenly another passageway opened, and the entire crowd at the entrance flowed in.
16:14: 25 people in each of the CP lines. The carousels allowed 3 people at a time in. It took an average 3 minutes to check the papers of each trio. At the vehicle checkpoint raffic was moving as usual.
16:40: Back at the pedestrian passages, again only 2 were operating and that the northern entrance was closed again. Time to pass was about 20 minutes, till one computer crashed. People in its line waited 30 minutes without any explanation for the delay. The closure appeared to be enforced selectively. Some green IDs were allowed to pass.
18:00 Bir Nabala: 29 vehicles waiting. People whose ID cards said Hebron or Nablus were not allowed into Bir Nabala, although "everyone knows that many people from Hebron and Nablus have moved into Bir Nabala, where rents dropped dramatically after the original residents abandoned once it was encircled by the Wall", said soldier. Drivers complained that lines at this CP are generally much longer.
19:43 Hizmeh: A Red Crescent Ambulance had been waiting 40 minutes to take a woman in labor to Mukassad Hospital, for lack of a permit. She was not even allowed to transfer to the ambulance, though the 3 crew members swore they had the skills and equipment to deliver the babyinfo-icon safely in their vehicle. We made some phone calls that seemed to work -- the woman was shortly allowed into the ambulance -- but not into a Jerusalem hosptial, on GSS instructions. Although the ambulance crew recommended that the husband transfer his wife to the Ramallah hospital in an ambulance, in view of the practical certainty that she would give birth en route, he decided to take her in his own car.

Thursday, 27.3.08, AM

6:45, Anata. Heavy traffic, but the two lanes of cars were moving relatively smoothly. There were fewer than usual schoolchildren because of school holidays.
8:00, Qalandiya. No line at the carousels. There was a very large group of prisoners’ families who passed through just at this time, using a couple of gatesinfo-icon.
On the other hand, the DCO opened only at 9:10, after a number of several phone calls on our part. There were at least 20 people waiting by this time, one of them on crutches (there really should be some seating provided at each gate). They were directed to gate 4 – leaving the people waiting for the post office confused as to where they should be. When we managed to catch the attention of the breakfasting soldiers in the DCO office, they told these people to join the line in gate 4. The soldier in the outside office managing the carousels (having no work to do) seemed to be absorbed in a computer game for the entire time we were there. When we did manage to make eye contact with her at one point so as to ask for help, she totally ignored us.
Nablus Area
Sunday, 23.3.08, PM
13:45, Jit Junction. No CP.
14:17, Beit Iba. Few vehicles are waiting to enter Nablus. The 3 pedestrian lines are long and moving very slowly.
Several young men are detained, but are released soon after their IDs are being
Tuesday, 24.3.08, AM
07:30--08:15, Beit Iba. The checkpoint is manned by reserve soldiers, as usual more relaxed than the regulars. No lines form, not pedestrian nor vehicular. The people entering Nablus pass without checking. At this time the checkpoint usually teems with students. Not today, for some reason.
Sunday, 23.3.08, PM
15:15, Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction. Empty of vehicles.
15:30, Huwwara. 3 active checking posts, x-ray truck. Pedestrian lines quite full, and get much more crowded during our shift. The humanitarian line is open.
15:40. A youngster is sent to the cubicle for 'educative' detention, not having been servile enough in line.
In the fierce sun, along the concrete ledge outside the exit area, a new post for the women (nine of them) waiting for their male travel companions not yet done with the checks.
The line become full to bursting, endless in the suffocating heat.
16:40, Beit Furiq. As usual at this time of day, a fair trickle of pedestrians, and a
long line of about 35 cars outbound from Nablus. Cars inbound have to wait long, too, until they're signaled in.
A truck with 3 scrapped cars stands at the side of the CP entrance since 11 a.m., five and a half hours by the time we get there. Soldiers on the morning shift took the driver's ID, no explanation given. He's been waiting since. We call the army hotline, then the DCL who promise to look into it. They also inform us that a Beit Furiq resident's truck needs an entry permit to Nablus. That is an innovation.
And this is what we learn of the following surreal development: For the past several days there are new instructions in the region – trucks delivering scrapped cars into Nablus require specialized inspection. Today the specialist is absent, so the driver at hand has been ordered to while away what by now has become six hours (and running).
On our way home, after 18:30, we learn that he has just been released. No specialist inspection.
This man waited with no explanations offered from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. due to a new draconian, un-enforceable regulation. Naturally seven and a half hours' waiting at a checkpoint do not entail any explanation for the victim.
Thursday, 27.3.08, PM
2:38 PM–5:25 PM, Beit Iba. The pedestrian passage from Nablus was very difficult. The number of people waiting in line when we arrived was long, and doubled and even tripled an hour later. The DCO (District Coordination Office) representative on duty who was there from the morning, left at 3:20, just when things began to build up to their maximum. We had called the Humanitarian Hot line and the DCO any number of times before help actually came.
3:40. About 200 people on the "humanitarian line" and about 400 to 500 on the young men's line. At the entrance to the turnstile the crowd is about 10 people wide all trying to vie for that precious but elusive spot which will led to the exit. Waiting time was anywhere from an hour to an hour and forty minutes. A man entering the checking area leaves his bags, phone, etc. on a shelf and gives the ID to the MP. He then steps through the metal detector doorway. If it buzzes he goes back and has to figure out what is causing the buzz. Sometimes he has to go back 4 or 5 times. We noticed that the buzzing mechanism buzzes at random intervals regardless if someone is passing through the door way or not. Another serious problem is that one of the MPs has to stop her work of checking those on line from Nablus whenever the commanding officer brings her an ID he wants checked from either the side line or the line of pedestrians going into Nablus.There was a detainee since 12. He was released at 3:40. Near the end of the shift 5 detainees were brought to the area because they had tried to avoid the CP. They were kept for about an hour. Waiting time at the humanitarian line was about 40 minutes. As a result, more urgent cases started to form a line to the side of this line. Depending on the judgment of the soldier, they were sent back to the end of the line or not. One man in his 60's was even told to go to the back of the young man's line as punishment for trying to side track the "humanitarian line."
Because the wait on all the lines was so long, people looked for alternatives. Some young women climbed into a full minibus and stood until the minibus made it to the CP. However, the soldier at the CP forced them back on line saying it was illegal to stand in a minibus. A crippled person managed to get a ride on a donkey wagon. A young mother got her 3 children into a wagon pushed by a porter in order to get through the CP.
The vehicle traffic varied from 3 to 9 vehicles on line to Nablus. Checking each vehicle took anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
The vehicle traffic from Nablus varied from 1 to 10 vehicles on line. Checking each vehicle was anywhere from a minute to 12 minutes.
2:30, Jit Junction. Unmanned, also on our way back at 5:43.
Qalqiliya Area
Sunday, 23.3.08, PM
13:09, Habla. Empty.
13:22, Qalqilya. A long line of vehicles waiting to exit Qalqilya; no vehicles on the other side.
15:27, Anabta. No vehicles entering Tulkarm; about 14 coming out. Checking is random on both sides.
15:50, Jubara. Uneventful
16:11, Ar-Ras. Uneventful
16:30, Gate 753.Three youths are detained.
Tuesday, 24.3.08, AM
06:50--07:10, Qalqilya. No queues. Vehicles come in and out without checking.
A young man loitering with the taxi drivers gives vent to his anger. Five minutes before our arrival, he says, 2 army vehicles entered the city "to make arrests". They shoot. Just like that. "They kill, kill, men, children, they don't care." He himself is waiting outside "so as not to be killed".
Azun. The entrance from Rd 55 is still blocked. No army vehicles.
08:45--09:10, Anabta. The line of vehicles coming out of the city seems long, but the passage is fairly quick.
09:20--10:20, Jubara & Ar-Ras. Again we had to wait for permission to enter the village.
At Ar-Ras there is a dog-handler, but no cars were checked. Ecumenical volunteers stationed in Tulkarm told us that there is a demolition order for a house belonging to Jubara but situated just outside the village, in what is now a military area. Surprisingly, they were allowed to walk on the military road and visit the people. Apparently B'Tselem and other organizations are involved.
Hebron Area
Sunday AM, 16.3.08
Meitar-Sansana.  A long queue.  Passage from the end of the queue through the CP took about 30 minutes. The Palestinians said this slow pace was due to our presence.  One man showed us his permit to be in Israel issued by   the Ministry of the Interior, valid 13.3.08-13.9.08, yet was not let through.  No reason given, none known.
Hebron, No detainees at any of the CPs. A municipal employee who came to the CP at the Patriarchs' Tomb was allowed through after leaving his ID with the soldier there, to be given back upon his return from work. We were told that this arrangement depended on the whim of the soldier.