Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 27.3.08, Morning
Route 60: a lot of traffic on the road, in both directions, north and south. Along the road a complete line of rolling checkpoints. At the junction of Beitin - Ein Yabrud and Route 60 stands a Hummer, a short way back from 60, watching the traffic. At the exit from Turmus Ayya a fully functioning checkpoint, with vehicles and passengers being meticulously checked. Around twenty cars on the spot, and transit takes half an hour. At the gate by the yeshiva on Route 60, on the approaches to Shilo - turmoil. Ten farmers with a tractor and a horse. An argument is going on about opening the agricultural gate. A car arrives with DCO representatives and, after a while, the farmers are allowed to cross to their plots. Because of a warning from a policeman that, if we don't move from the verge of the road, he will write us a traffic ticket, we left before succeeding in clarifying when this gate opens and closes, and how many days a week, month or year are the farmers allowed to cross.
Za'atra: we stood at a distance from the soldiers and observed events. The checkpoint is manned by reservists, and passage is relatively fast. A number of buses full of cheerful children and a few women - apparently on their way to an annual outing - stop while the drivers descend with documents, and after a few moments move on amid childish laughter and a gay song - refreshing.
One of the soldiers comes over to ask who we are. When we abstained from a discussion, he succeeded in working it out for himself and asked "when were you in Sderot?" We responded that when we go, we will invite him. With that the contact was over between us and the "forces operating on the ground" as the army would have it.
Huwwara: we arrived at 09:00 and the checkpoint was almost empty. The parking lot, on the other hand, was full to capacity - a difficult livelihood to extract from driving a taxi. The checkpoint commander approached on his own initiative, and asked that we do not take photos. Apart from that, there was no interference as we circulated freely. Our guests displayed considerable understanding of the significance of the checkpoints and the fact that, without freedom of movement, there is no life. Despite the "emptiness" of the checkpoint, the shock was great. When we left on our way to the car, which was parked in the paid lot, a car driven by a thickly bearded settler stopped alongside us and, bothering to get out of his vehicle, he clarified in no uncertain terms what he thought of us and our work. We did not respond, or turn our heads in his direction, and when the shower of "blessings" ended he got back in his car and drove off.
Beit Furik: much pedestrian traffic and little vehicular. When we were about to leave, a young man approached us and complained that he and nine companions were caught at 04:00 on Madison Road (the apartheid road leading to Itamar and Alon Moreh). The hour was now 11:00 and their IDs were in the hands of the soldiers for seven hours. A vigorous demand of the Humanitarian Centre caused the IDs to be returned immediately. A day's work had gone down the drain! It would be interesting to know how many settlers travel that road at 04:00 in the morning, and justify that amazing "awareness" of the army in "protecting" the road and the settlers dozing in their beds.
Route 60: all the morning's rolling checkpoints have vanished. However, entrance to Jerusalem via Hizme reveals a great awareness of Border Police - and a mini checkpoint in every corner.