Sha`ar Shomron (Qasem), Thu 3.4.08, Afternoon
We observed about 40 men sitting on the ground on the right side with their backs turned to the checkpoint. We stopped nearby and were going to approach them when a soldier came and forbade us to do it. When we insisted we had the right to talk to them, he relented and permitted us to talk to two of them. He said they were "illegals" [in Israel without a residence permit] who had been detained for 3 hours, ["they would probably say they had been detained for 10 hours"]. He said he intended to hold them for another half an hour as he was allowed to detain people for 4 hours. We asked about their documents and it turned out they had been checked long before. He approached his commander and then came back to us announcing that we were lucky as all of them were going to be released right away. What a coincidence! We had just arrived and suddenly they could be released!!
When the men got their documents back, they flew into a fury and got extremely excited. The soldier tried to prevent them from talking to us after their release, but that, of course, was beyond the power of his weapon. They told us they had been detained for 5-6 hours after being apprehended at Azzun Atme on their way back home in the territories from their work in Israel (some of them said they hadn't been in Israel at all), forced to walk a good number of kilometers without documents to reach this checkpoint. One of the men complained that a soldier had given him two slaps for asking for more food (they had been given only dry pitas). They were quite worried not knowing how they would get home in the middle of the night to Jenin, Nablus and Silat-adh-Dhahr, when the next 15 Kilometers of the road are an apartheid road where there are no taxis nor any other Palestinian vehicles. Putting their life at risk, they ran among the racing cars to the other side of the road and started walking eastward … home …