Beit Furik, Beit Iba, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 13.4.08, Afternoon
On our way:
No detainees observed at the Shaar Shomron Crossing into the West Bank. Unless - unlike last week - they are now being held at some unseen spot.
At Za'tara/Tapuach Junction checkpoint - few vehicles crossing fairly quickly.
The entire village of Huwwara is under curfew, possibly because of an ongoing violent clash between local clans. We also heard a rumor that the curfew was imposed in view of the colonist demonstration expected to take place near the checkpoint. On our way back, several businesses were already opened, but most were closed and there were very few people out on the streets.
At Beita village (near Huwwara), according to Palestinians' testimonies, on Friday 11.4.08, Israeli army bulldozers blocked all entrances and exits of the villages Lower and Upper Beita, and the only route left open was from the main Huwwara road, and that too - half blocked by rubble and dirt. We photographed one of the four fresh road barriers between Lower Beita and Ussarin. Roads were also blocked leading to Aqraba, Majdal Bani Fadel and Duma villages. According to the local residents, a printed warning was posted up on the Mosque door informing them that anyone found removing any of the fresh barriers would be prosecuted. During morning hours, Border Patrolmen are said to be positioned by the barriers to prevent vehicles from bypassing them through neighboring olive groves.
In addition, we received information from Palesitnian cab drivers about some of the fifty barriers that the authorities have supposedly removed in order to relieve Palestinian movement in the West Bank:
- - A barrier declared removed south of the "Madison Route" (road connecting Huwwara Checkpoint and the colonies of Yitamar and Alon More, passing by Beit Furik Checkpoint) has never in fact existed to begin with - traveling this road in particular is forbidden to Palestinians, and whoever is caught driving on it, walking beside it or crossing it, even, is punished with at least three hours of detention at the checkpoint, depending upon the whims of the local commanders.
- - The barrier south of Road 505 (south of Usserin) was removed, photographed accordingly, and placed again a day later.
- - The drivers knew nothing of barriers north of Duma village, and east of Majdal Bani Fadel (Alon Road) that have supposedly been removed, or whose removal would make any difference or relieve Palestinian vehicular traffic in the area.
- - The same can be said about two barriers between Beqaot Junction and Hamra Junction (bound for the Jordan Valley) and another one east of Alon Road (508).
All Palestinian drivers we spoke with said that the 'removed barriers' issues is all a charade and a pack of lies.
Commander- E., DCO representative - T.
All braced for the colonist demonstration expected to take place shortly.
15:30 - At the taxi park, the vendors lay out their goods on the narrow sidewalk - flower pots, shoes, vegetables, sweets and various soft drinks. Today they are not harassed by the army.
The pedestrian waiting lines are long and crowded, sprawling out to the edge of the shed. Checks proceed at a slow pace in the stifling heat. Youngsters report waiting half an hour to an hour. At the special side line, many women, children and men over 45 are checked. Checks of men in the turnstiled lines include removing their belts and any item that causes the metal detector to bleep. Still, the women MPs are quiet and checks are matter-of-fact. Anyone carrying a bag, bundle or briefcase is sent to the X-Ray truck and comes back for his/he ID.
A man is detained next to the concrete hold for an hour because his ID is suspected to be counterfeit. Later it turns out he presented a photocopied ID which makes him automatically suspect. A Palestinian tells us that this morning a soldier pushed an eighty-year old woman and she fell to the ground. The DCO rep. confirms having witnessed the incident.
16:14 - The officer speaks with the detainee and releases him. Some minutes alter another two detainees are held, one of them presents a photocopied ID.
16:19 On "Madison Route", from Itamar and Alon More, colonists, especially girls, are seen marching towards the Huwwara Checkpoint roundabout. They are escorted by an army jeep. At the Beracha hitchhikers' station about 100 colonists are crowded, surrounded by numerous soldiers, police and Border Patrol. On our way home we saw a similar crowding at the Yitzhar-Huwwara Junction, and a similar number of servicemen.
16:53 - the detainees are released. The waiting lines dwindle, but the special side line is full of women being sent off to the X-ray truck with even the smallest plastic bags, and coming back to pick up their IDs. After about 20 minutes this procedure is suddenly halted and the women all exit with their bundles directly into the exit lane.
Noa, videoing the demonstration from afar, is surrounded suddenly by three colonist boys who ask - in a hostile tone - for an explanation "how to become Arab-lovers". At the same opportunity they also want to teach her what the holy Torah says, and call her "bitch" and "you should be killed". The Palestinians say the demonstration is about a house that has been dismantled near Beracha colony. The demonstrators attempt to approach the Checkpoint, and a BP jeep prevents them from doing so.
They verbally assault the soldiers, and one young colonist is arrested and taken into a jeep while others push and scream. Two of the boys reach the Checkpoint and yell at us "You are Hitler and Eichmann", "The Almighty gave us this country, they have lots of countries"... They looked amok stricken and there was no point in talking to them.
17:13 - a total halt of proceedings at the checkpoint - "Life Freeze" procedure - is announced for Palestinians. Checking and passage are stopped as a soldier announces on the PA system "Everyone back! Life freeze!" Soldiers push Palestinians back into the taxi park.
17:25 - the demonstrating colonists are returned to the hitchhikers' station and the checkpoint reopens for Palestinians.
17:50 - procedures running smoothly. Very few people remain around the turnstiles. Waiting time is down to half an hour. Women rapidly pass through the special side line.
18:15 - At Burin/Yitzhar-Huwwara Junction, a large group of colonists standing by the roadside, surrounded by army and police cars.
On our way home we were informed on the phone about several detainees at Beit Iba Checkpoint who were released only after being held for four hours.
Beit Furiq Checkpoint 17:00
Observers: Galit G., Judit B., Tal H. (reporting)
"Hey, what's up? Why didn't you bring us coke?" one of the soldiers shouts as a greeting.
Few cars waiting to be checked outbound from Nablus.
No detainees. The usual trickle of pedestrians at this time.
The commander - just like two weeks ago - uses his rifle scope to observe people treading the fields in the direction of the neighboring village.
A driver talking to our driver is a reason for the commander and another soldier to wave him off and cut off the conversation.
17:45 - We head back to Huwwara.