Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 31.3.08, Morning

Observers: 
Tzvia S., Rachel A. (Reporting)
Mar-31-2008
|
Morning

Translation: Rachel B.

Za'tara: 6:35 AM

Reserve Duty soldiers are staffing the checkpoint.  The officer in charge displays a warm welcoming attitude towards us, but at the end of our conversation with him we part with, if course, differences of opinion.  However, he notes his efforts to be polite and efficient towards the Palestinian population.

For example, the case of a bus where it is usually required that all passengers disembark to be checked through, this time only ID cards are checked which doesn't take very long.  The sniffing dogs have not arrived yet so that the overall situation is considerably better than the routine we are used to seeing.

The line of car is long, as usual, but it flows through faster than normal.  On the way to Huwwara we see a Military Police Jeep, # 611093, which identifies us by our MachsomWatch flag and seems to purposefully drive very slowly just ahead of us for God knows what purpose.

Beit Furik: 7:15 AM

There are 3 buses of children on a school trip in the direction of Jericho which are heading towards Nablus.  The principal is stressed out and talks loudly but the children are smiling and happy and wave hello to us (today is the boys' turn {to go on the trip}, explains the driver).  Somehow they seem to realize that we are "on the good side.'  A soldier and a female soldier with a gun enter the bus and check it.  What exactly are they looking for?  This looks ominous... but the checking concludes and the children are on their way to Jericho (through the north, for, of course, they are not allowed to go the shorter direct way).

There are several cars and pedestrians going through the checkpoint.

Huwwara: 7:45 AM

A short time after our arrival the officer in charge tells us that we have to stand on the other side of the white line.  We explain to him that from over there we cannot observe what it going on inside the checkpoint, which is, after all, precisely why we are here. He tries to insist but after a while leave us to our own devices.

After a half hour we go over to the area of the taxi drivers and immediately stories of harassment over the last few days spill out from everyone.  This is especially pertinent to the Checkpoint Commander, who is not present at the moment, who harasses the taxi drivers and also goes after their cars.  He hits them, damages their cars, and behaves like a hooligan.  We take an official complaint on behalf of "Yesh Din" ("There is Justice") from a taxi driver who suffered both personal injury and damage to his car yesterday. It will be passed on for investigation to the Military Police Investigations Unit.  Another driver whose car was damaged by the same officer does not want to lodge a complaint for his own personal reasons and because he doesn't believe it will amount to anything.  The owner of a stall selling plants, flowers, etc., who stands on a traffic island at the entrance to the parking lot, tells us about additional incidents of harassment by the same officer.  While we listen and write down the information, the office on duty arrives to find out what's going on. The District Coordinating Office officer who observed these incidents yesterday tells us about how it looked form his vantage point.

Slowly slowly more and more stories accumulate that indicate that last Thursday as well, there was a series of acts of harassment and damages at the hand of the same officer. When we leave the checkpoint are we see a police car blocking the entrance to Yitzhar and numerous other military and police vehicles.  We go towards Yitzhar but do not stay  to find out what's going on. 

When I got home I called the stall owner to ask him to go over to the checkpoint area to see what's going on and how the soldiers are behaving.  We passed the matter on to the next MachsomWatch shift and at his next call he will report the situation to the mid-day shift.