Awarta, Beit Furik, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 3.4.08, Afternoon
Marda is open. The entrance to Zeita-Jamaiem is still blocked with cement blocks and the gate locked and people can only leave the villages on foot.
When we got there there were 6 cars only from the direction of Nablus. The passage was swift. Two checking areas. About 15 minutes later a checking area was opened for cars going to Nablus (and there is also now a permanent checking area for this) And therefore the checking post in the direction of Nablus has been taken down and a long line begins to form. We spoke to the commander and pointed this out and he immediately opened another lane. But by then the line was so long that it was difficult to shorten it.
A young settlers from Alon Moreh came to preach to us saying that this was our land and that the Palestinians have no rights here and why are we for the Palestinians and do not protect her rights, etc. A conversation of the deaf ensued but it was not impassioned and when I asked her to move off so as not to bother us she did so.
14.50 A van was sent to the parking area after the IDs of the passengers had been taken. But after 3 minutes the IDs were returned and the passengers did not have to leave the car. 2 other vans, one full of joyous children passed without delays. The soldiers, military police and border police , reservists it seems by their age.
At the crossroads of Burin stood a Hummer next to the Bedouin's shop but there was no checkpoint.
There were no lines of cars and the passage swift. From Nablus all the passengers alight from the car and stand at the side until the soldier completes the check.
3 checking areas (later only 2) and there is no overcrowding and the passage is swift with no delays.
The commander, P.
The atmosphere is fairly calm with no shouts and hardly any pressure. One military policeman, O. even speaks to the Palestinians saying please and thank you! The humanitarian line outside the shed is in the sun. Now and again the pressure builds up and then large crowds of people are allowed to pass without being checked. A welder works on the kiosk near the road taking down the plastic windows. It is not clear what is to come in their place.
When the soldier who is checking the cars comes to relieve one of the soldiers in the pedestrian lane she brings with her all the IDs of people in a car. The soldier who has been relieved goes and returns them. Another small harassment, another small delay.
15.55 The soldier begins to push the people back with cries of "Back Back" two meters from the turnstiles and afterwards she checks each woman in the humanitarian line with the metal detector. A line begins to form. 2 veiled women are taken to the isolation and a woman soldier stands outside the door and argues with them.2 minutes later they come out and go on their way. We cannot be sure but think that the argument was as to whether they should raise their veils.
On the road is a man who used the Madison road. He is from Dahariya and did not know it was forbidden and says it is written no where. Which is true. He was kept from 13.30 - 15.40 and missed out on a day of work because of this.
16.00 There is more pressure and a third checking area is opened. Now Thursday is the day of the students because they do not learn on Fridays or Saturdays.
No lines and two vans doing a back to back passage.
At Beit Furik the electricity is on though the day is clear. The turnstiles are not working and people go through on the road. There are no lines of cars and the pedestrians pass quickly. A pair of small people laden with parcels come from the direction of Beit Furik with great difficulty. The dark skinned and thin woman soldier runs towards them and takes some bags so as to help them get to the other side of the checkpoint. It is so difficult to see from where we stand next to the second turnstile that in the beginning I wrote down that it was a male soldier and Yehudiet said that by the body language it was a woman. We were only certain when one of the Palestinians told us it was a woman.
A father comes to the checkpoint. His 15 year old daughter came with her older sister and husband from Nablus and she was not allowed to pass because she was not with her parents and so he had had to come from his village to fetch her.
17.30 A new green Mercedes passes from Nablus and stops behind the checkpoint. The driver is angry and shows us that the backrest of the car has been torn away. This is what a soldier has just done. Some time ago they tore his 4 tyres with spikes and he shows us a note from the soldiers affirming this. He is angry, shouts and curses until the commander comes up, checks the damage and refuses to give him a written conformation and chases him away. I phoned E. of the DCO but the man was too angry to speak to him. Yehudiet took his details.
A young woman is detained in the isolation for over an hour. Two soldiers and the commander guard her. The mother and daughter are shouting and the commander sends the father away but the mother refuses to go. About 15 minutes later the woman soldier goes to the father and says that if he does not take her away she will do so by force and so the mother is removed. We spoke to the woman who was at first very hostile and refused to take our card ("I do not believe in you.)" A proud and fighting Palestinian With my bad Arabic we had a political argument. One of the more interesting which I have had lately. An amazing woman. Her son and son-in-law who is the husband of the detained woman are in an Israeli jail. The son in law had been imprisoned a month and a half after the marriage. The commander told the couple that their daughter was wanted by the Secret service who were on their way to take her away and to arrest her. He had handcuffs with him to show what was waiting for her. Yehudiet phoned the humanitarian centre who said that she would be freed in a few hours. At 18.30 she was freed!!!! All the family hurried to a van to take them home but went we went to our car the mother opened a windown and waves to us warmly until they disappeared.
19.40 Za'tara. No queues.
20.00 The checkpoint Shaar Shomron at the entrance to Israel.
40 men were sitting on the rights side of the road on the ground with their backs to the checkpoint. The soldier forbad us to go to them. When we stood on our rights to speak to them he said we could speak to two. He said that they were illegal workers who had been detained for 3 hours. ( "They will probably say they have been here 10 hours.") And that they would be detained for another half an hour, that is for four hours, as it was according to the rules. He said their IDs has been checked long ago. He went to the commander and came back and said we were lucky as they were all being freed. What a coincidence. We have just arrived and they are being freed. The men were very angry when their IDs were returned. The soldier tried to stop them speaking to us after they were freed. But he did not have the power to do so. They said that they had been there 5-6 hours after they had been stopped in Azzun-Itma on their way home from Israel (some said they had not even been in Israel) and had had to walk many kilometers without their IDs to this checkpoint. One of them said that the soldier had hit him twice when he asked for food (they had been given dry pitot). They were worried as to how to get home now that night had fallen, to Jenin, to Nablus, to Silat A Dahur 15 miles away and this along the apartheid road where there were no taxis or Palestinian cars. At great danger to themselves the men ran between the galloping cars to the other side of the road and began to walk eastwards...home,.