Beit Furik, Huwwara, Sha`ar Shomron (Qasem), Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 21.4.08, Afternoon
13.40 Shaar Shomron.
No detainees and there are police reinforcements. There are cars all along the dirt road to the villages of Bruqin and Dik even though there is no checkpoint today.
No chances are being taken. The entrance to Zeita is still blocked and there are many cars parked there but no people. The eastern entrance to Marda is open.
14.00 Za'tara. 13 cars from the north and no detainees inside the checkpoint.
A line of at least 10 cars wait to enter Nablus. Why? The soldier who must relieve the soldier who did not feel well, so says A. from the DCO. The checkpoint is calm today and only about half the shed is full the whole time and people wait about 10 minutes in the regular line and this is so even though only two checking areas are working.
14.00 About half an hour later a third turnstile opens and there is a small but steady stream of people. For the moment there is no dogtrainer. They will arrive later when it is not so hot. We have already learned that the dogs are not brought to work when hot. The x-ray machine is working.
A taxi is checked, 10 minutes and all the contents are sent to the x-ray machine. Doors are opened and the driver and passengers do the ritual dance and strip.
14.20 A man is caught on the Madison road. When we got nearer we heard the following story. The man got to the checkpoint of Huwwara and from there was sent for some reason to the checkpoint at Awarta and when he came out not knowing about the orders concerning this road he was caught and his ID taken from him. The captain who took it did not even bother to come to the checkpoint and so the man was very worried as to what had happened to his ID. Of course this is against the law. When an ID is taken it must be taken to a checkpoint which is known to the person and not remain in the pocket of the soldiers.
(Estie who was there with a guest managed to have him freed after about an hour).
15.00 While the ID of this man is being returned to him another man arrives with a similar story.
The DCO says that it is so, that trucks have to go through Awarta but the man has a van and not a truck.
The DCO says it must be a black van. No we say it is white….and what has the colour to do with the price of cheese?
He was told that he would be detained for 7 hours as punishment. Afterwards they spoke of 3hours. The commander would not speak to us.
A vehicle of the BBC was not allowed into Nablus and detained at the side. The DCO is busying trying to get a permit for them (we are surprised as is this his job?). E. arrives and of course they are allowed through.
15.45 After a number of calls to the humanitarian center and to the DCO who is present we went to Beit Furik and took the number of the man, promising to return but in the hope of not finding him there. While we are speaking to him another man comes to say that he had been sent to Awarta and had been caught on the Madison road.
16.00 Beit Furik.
No people and only 4 cars. The commander comes to speak to us and says that we will please stand today and always over there…that is behind the white line. Because there are no great problems we leave after about 15 minutes. All the cars have gone by and others that arrives, about a minute check to each.
16.30 There were at least 5 detainees from the Madison road. The feeling was that because the checkpoint was "smooth" today the soldiers had to find their "livelihood" in other ways or that they were playing games…how nice it is to play games. Three minutes later another man was added to the group. Phone calls to the humanitarian centre did not help. "It is a military order, they have to find other ways, we cannot interfere with the decisions of the commander of the checkpoint."
We met a mother and 4 daughters, Israeli citizens from Lod, who had gone into Nablus to visit their grandmother and had been caught when they came out and were waiting for the blue police.They were still there when we left.
We left at 17.00. Phoned the first man who had been detained at 3 and had now been released and who thanked us for our help.