Beit Iba, יום ג' 6.5.08, אחה"צ
We stop at the grocery store a few km before Beit Iba roadblock to buy some supplies and chat with the owner. We ask him about the dearth of
traffic today in the area. He explains that about a week ago a roadblock was lifted north of Nablus next to Asira ash Shamaliya, so many drivers prefer to take this newly opened path; it’s the shortest way to Jenin, and even those not traveling to Jenin tend to prefer it over a journey through Beit Iba and Anabta roadblocks. In the first day or two, he continues, the permanent block was opened and traveling was completely free; now there’s army presence on the road, but usually the soldiers don’t stop and check the cars.
16:00, Beit Iba
Here also traffic is sparse. People are passing in all directions all the time both on foot and by car, but there are no lines and no waiting.
The checkpoint continues to be manned by reserve soldiers, but this shift has soldiers new to the job. We ask the commander about the sparse traffic and he also tells about the lifting of the roadblock near Asira ash Shamaliya.
The usual routine here, only without lines, without “over-flowers” (army parlance for people trying to bypass the roadblock through the adjoining fields), and thus without “detainee parties” (those large gatherings of young men who are detained for educational purposes after engaging in the local hide-and-seek game called “over-flowing”). Occasionally there’s a “bingo” (someone whose ID is on the very crude and large list of numbers of interest); today such “bingos” are detained, ID further checked, and released after a few minutes.
The only new thing we learn here today is that the opening hours of this roadblock have been extended a few weeks ago: now Beit Iba is open for passage until 23:00.
We leave the roadblock. As we prepare to go our way the commander says to me: “you know, you are barking up the wrong tree; even if someone is detained for a few minutes mistakenly, it’s worth the security it gives Israel.” I’m tired of the “security” polemic, so I go for the individual rights argument. “I believe it’s any person’s right – a human right – to go to work and school and home without having to pass through 3-4 checkpoints, without their daily routine being hampered by repeated inspections of their ID and personal belongings.” He has no ready-made reply for the rights argument and he’s not the type to thoughtlessly spit out the first idiocy that comes to mind. He’s likely to prepare an answer in time for the next Machsom Watch shift arriving at Beit Iba; meanwhile, we part cordially