Awarta, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 3.4.08, Afternoon

Yehudit L., Daphne B. (reporting);

Translation: Natanya g.

Marda is open. The entrance to Zeita- Jamma'in is still blocked with cement blocks and the gate locked and people can only leave the villages on foot.

14.20 Za'atra. 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 position was opened for cars going to Nablus (and there is also now a permanent checking position 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 Elon Moreh came to preach to us saying that this was our land and that the Palestinians have no right 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. At Huwwara there were no lines of cars and the passage was swift. From Nablus all the passengers alight from the car and stand at the side until the soldier completes the check.

3 checking positions (later only 2) and there is no overcrowding and the passage is swift with no delays. The commander, Paz. The atmosphere is fairly calm with no shouts and hardly any pressure. One military policeman, Ori 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. Two 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 Dhahiriya and did not know it was forbidden and says it is written nowhere. 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.

16,40 Awarta. 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 Yehudit 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 Aiman of the DCO but the man was too angry to speak to him. Yehudit took his details.

18.00 Huwwara. 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. Yehudit 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 window and waves to us warmly until they disappeared.

19.40 Za'tara. No queues.