Beit Furik, Huwwara, Qalqiliya, Mon 25.2.08, Afternoon
Translation: Maureen A.
A tour to Qalqiliya, Ras-Atiya, Azzun-Atma, Huwwara & Beit Furik.
The tour had been planned in advance, but, since Merav let me know that there would not be a shift at Huwwara, we planned a shortened shift.
12:45 - Ras-Atiya -
The gate in the fence. Children and teachers move from one side to the other on their way home from school. What kind of a childhood is it when a child must move past guns, wait until he or she is called and then go through "one by one"? The movement through is quick, though a horse-drawn cart and two passengers are not allowed through. We left while the passengers were arguing - begging to be let through.
13:15 - Qalqiliya -
The only entrance to the Qalqiliya ghetto - long lines - 15 vehicles, all Palestinian, at the entrance, and a line waiting to be checked before leaving, so long we could not see the end. A car with Israeli license plates that had been in the line entering the city gives up, the driver makes a U-turn and goes back the way he came.
14:00 - Azzun Atma -
Near a huge dirt roadblock which prevents the inhabitants of the village, which is on the west (Israeli) side of the fence from driving out, there's a truck with Israeli license plates. On the other side of the roadblock - there's a Palestinian truck. Three men are skillfully tossing cardboard boxes from one to another, till the boxes are all on the Israeli truck, ready to be shipped to Israel.
The western entrance to Marda -
Blocked by an iron gate, and now a barbed-wire fence has been added.
The eastern entrance to Marda - the gate is open.
The entrance to Zeita -
Like in recent months - blocked by concrete blocks and, in addition, a locked iron gate.
14:40 - Za'tara Junction -
3 vehicles from the west, and about 15 vehicles from the south (from Nablus).
The entrance to Beit'a - open; no military presence.
14:50 - Huwwara -
No segregation and no age limits. ("But it can all come back tomorrow", says the commander). The soldiers are efficient, no long lines, passage
is quick and quiet, relatively. The soldiers come up to us, speak to us a little and leave. They don't relate to the line, be it white, red or green. The vehicle passage
is also quick, no lines.
At 15:30 a soldier (female) from the canine unit arrives and starts checking the cars. There's a young man detained in the solitary confinement area who has been there for about half an hour. Two of his friends are waiting for him in the detainees' shed. The moment I go over to him the Checkpoint Commander is right by my side, forbidding me from speaking to him, "You know you're not allowed to cross the line..." etc. He threatens to call the police. The young man has told me that he is being detained because he "talked back". The commander refuses to tell me why he's being detained. I move away and ask the detainee's friends, who supply the missing details - the soldiers asked him to take off his shoes but because of the rain, the floor was wet and he refused. Now he's being punished. A phone call to the "Humanitarian Centre" (they'll take care of it), to Rudy (he's not in the area), to Iman ("If the soldiers decided to detain him, they probably know what they're doing and I can't interfere.") I bring him something to drink and we go on to Beit Furik; we will get back to Huwwara and the detainee.
15:45 - Beit Furik. There are not a lot of people and the pedestrian crossing is quick. The vehicle crossing, on the other hand, is slow enough to make you mad, though there are not many cars. Between cars the soldiers stand around talking for at least ten minutes. Only then do they call the next car, signal the driver to turn off the motor, get out of the car, pull up his shirt and turn around to give them his identity card; finally, he's asked to move away and wait at a distance. When his card is verified, they check the car very thoroughly. The whole story takes at least 10 minutes a car. We approach
the soldiers and the guest takes pictures. The soldiers ignore him, don't answer when we say hello, but don't bother us either. Great!!
16:15 - Huwwara - The young man is still detained, his friends are still waiting for him. Now the District Coordination Officer, Tomer, who has arrived, says that the young man will be detained for another two hours, so he learns a lesson. The soldiers say, "five hours". Once again - I call the Humanitarian Centre and Iman and try to convince him that this kind of punishment is illegal. He says he will try to help, although they are allowed to detain him for three hours. There still aren't a lot of people at the checkpoint (maybe because of the rainy weather), or maybe it only seems that there are few people since the passage through is quick.
16:40 - We took the detainee's friend's phone number and headed back.
At 17:00 he was released.
17:00 - Za'tara - A long line of about 20 cars is waiting to cross from north to south. 5 are waiting to go from west to east.