Beit Furik, Huwwara, Sun 18.5.08, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
Checkpoint Commander - S., DCO representative - T.
15:30 - The special side line for women children and the elderly stretches all the way back out of the shed. Women and children are given priority and the men wait and wait. An elderly man holding a transparent bag with 4 tehina jars is sent to the X-ray truck. Long waiting lines queue up at the turnstiles as well.
A soldier in a military vehicle coming from Nablus hands the commander 2 Palestinian IDs, the latter puts them in his pocket. Several minutes later, their owners arrive: two men, not young, who were riding donkeys and crossed the apartheid "Madison" road. They are placed in the concrete cubicle and locked in with lock and chain. Inside is also an Israeli citizen from the Galilee village of Tur'an, who had visited his sister residing in Nablus. When we try to get details of his case (we stand outside the concrete slabs by the cubicle at a spot which does not create any sort of disturbance) a soldier is alarmed and then the commander forbids us to exchange words with detainees. We explain that it's our duty, and that we'll move away from there after getting the information we need. As for the Israeli citizen, the CP commander says "there's a law forbidding him to enter Nablus" and this is what is done to whoever violates this law. Where is it written? "Over there, at the entrance to the checkpoint". Under the posters that colonists have put up, announcing their own political activities against the government and army policies.
"Besides, they know, everyone knows!" The donkey owners applaud us. And there is also a "law" forbidding us to speak to detainees.
Having brought to the DCO representative's attention the fact that an Israeli citizen is locked up in the cubicle, he releases him and lets him wait for the police outside.
As we 'trespass' the white line by 20 centimeters, the commander tells us that this line is a "law" and we are violators, ample reason to complain to the police that arrives very soon - unusually soon. Policeman Michael asks Noa and Naomi for their IDs. He then conducts a clarifying questioning with us and the commander, tones as pleasant as if this were a neighbors' tiff. Our question as to how exactly we create a disturbance remains unanswered. The policeman makes an "agreement" with us (actually with himself) by which he announces we must not cross the white line according to the commander's demand. Not even by millimeters. Our question as to what the police waste their time on, remains just as unanswered. Our IDs are taken to the police van for registration, and on the phone Michael says, "what incident? there was no incident. There was just this misunderstanding, nothing serious, just an argument over where to stand." Anyway, our data is noted.
At this opportunity we asked for the Israeli citizen's release, and brought to his attention that the sign forbidding the entry of Israelis into Nablus has long since been transformed into the colonists' bulletin board.
At the side line crowding surges and people complain about waiting for 45 minutes by now. At the turnstiles, three waiting lines stretch all the way to the back of the shed and waiting time is about an hour. A bus and its passengers took 34 minutes to be inspected by 3 soldiers.
The illegal quarry (where is the "law" now?) belonging to a Har Beracha colonist works at increased capacity and raises billows of thick dust all over.
3 news agency photographers stand outside the fence and receive orders not to photograph at the checkpoint. When we say it is perfectly legal, the commander explains that if soldiers will be photographed this might implicate them in court (he did not specify which court...). Then he reduced the verdict and the photographers promise not to shoot soldiers' faces.
A Palestinian exiting the checks, belt in hand, says "It is awkward. I am ordered to strip and get dressed in full view of everyone? A week ago I was released from hospital and asked to use the special side line (42 years old) because I was too weak to stand, and the soldier said to me "What do I care?" and sent me to the turnstiles. This is how we live..." Another young man said that for a year and a half he has not entered Nablus in spite of its close proximity to his village, in order not to have to undergo the humiliations at the checkpoint and waste his time. Another said he works in flat renovations in Tel Aviv, he has no choice, that is the only way he can look our for his family's livelihood. There are a thousand ways to enter Israel, he says, every time I take a risk. It's unpleasant but when there are no other options one does everything in order to get food on the table.
Two buses loaded with women and children wait to enter Nablus, passing their time singing and clapping, until they are permitted entry (they have special permits) - having arrived from inside Israel - to take part in a wedding. Amidst all the dust, the concrete slabs, the fences, the noisily creaking metal gates and pointed guns, the joy that resonates from the buses is laden with added significance: we shall enter, like it or not, and the whole crowd at the checkpoint shares their joy.
17:45 - the donkey owners are released.
Towards 18:00, the lines empty and waiting time does not exceed 10 minutes. It is hard to get used to the fact that the checkpoint functions with the exact same size staff whether there are 10, 100 or 400 people to inspect.
Beit Furik Checkpoint, 17:20 - 17:55
Observesr: Judit B., Galit G. (reporting)
Checks are slow, vehicles inspected in a single lane coming and going, 2-3 minutes per vehicle. Pedestrian trickle. A cardboard sign is pasted onto the turnstiles, black felt pen, in basic Arabic, explaining "You must wait here 'nicely', one by one etc."...
Upon leaving we see no vehicles bound for Nablus, there are only 5 vehicles exiting, and no pedestrians.
The residents of Beit Furiq and Beit Dajan (the two villages for which this checkpoint has been created) have apparently become accustomed to living in total isolation - no Palestinian even tries his luck to enter the villagers even though it is his right.