'Anabta, 'Azzun 'Atma, Beit Iba, Jit, Thu 22.5.08, Afternoon
15:45 – Beit Iba checkpoint. 10 cars on line to enter Nablus, 2 detainees. Complete security checks, of those entering as well as those exiting Nablus. About 20 people wait on line to enter Nablus. The line for women and older men off to one side is operating, and also an additional line for young men. The metal detector buzzes whether or not anyone is passing through. I try to discover some rule that explains its behavior but am unsuccessful (does the soldier operating it turn it on randomly?). The detector buzzes when no one is nearby, and either keeps buzzing while someone passes through, or is silent. The detector also covers shoes, and when it buzzes when someone passes through, that person has to remove his shoes and stand on the dusty floor. Maybe some expert can explain to us what someone can smuggle in his shoes that he can't buy in the nearby city he's going to. I wonder how a commander explains to soldiers, and convinces them, how examining the soles of shoes of people leaving Nablus is connected in any way with preventing terror, except, of course, the humiliation involved. And so someone arrives at the booth, and goes back and forth three times until the buzzer stops (in the incident I witnessed). In the vehicle line we see a large poster stuck on the wall, informing the soldiers that a business conference is being held in Bethlehem, and that participants received a special permit and they're allowed to use it to travel everywhere. The poster is the size of a sheet of newsprint, colorful, and considerable thought has clearly been devoted to its design and wording, and it looks more like a propaganda poster than an information sheet intended to update soldiers regarding arrangements that are temporary. The army of occupiers, that doesn't even bother to notify the thousands of people passing through the checkpoints every day who should stand in which line, that doesn't bother to install a clean surface in the place where people are required to remove their shoes – this poster about the business conference is little more than a decorative nose ring…
Translator: Charles K.
16:00 – Few people at the checkpoint, 30 on the line off to one side, and a smaller number in the line for young men. Five vehicles (mostly trucks) on line to enter Nablus. An old man in the exit line from Nablus argues with the soldiers and the DCO representative. He's not allowed through. The checkpoint commander refuses to speak with us about the detainees; as soon as we arrive he points to the white line. Later the battalion commander arrives and calls the police, claiming that we're interfering with the soldiers. We call the humanitarian center and tell them about the detainees.
16:40 – One detainee is released and sent to join the line (according to the commander, he was detained for an hour and a half).
16:45 – The second detainee is released.
30 people are waiting to enter Nablus.
A policeman arrives, someone new to the area. It took him a while to find the checkpoint. Asks for ID cards. We go to the car to get them, and meanwhile the soldiers "tell their side of the story." We talk to him, and let him reach a conclusion and leave, and return to the place we were standing before he arrived (next to the unoccupied western turnstile, since the lane isn't operating).
At the checkpoint's exit we see an improvised poster stuck on a water tank next to the sink: "Thank you Watch Machsom for helping our struggle succeed," signed "Terrorist Movement Activists." I tear it off, over the soldiers' objections (and their commander's, who told us that he's from Kiryat Arba. Whether or not he actually lives there, his behavior indicates that Kiryat Arba could very well be his home in a ethical sense.)
17:30 – On the way to the car we stop near the taxi drivers, trying to find out why so few people are passing through the checkpoint in comparison to previous weeks. In response to our question the drivers confirm that it's possible to go via Al-Bidan, where people are checked and it takes a long time to get through, and it's also possible to exit via Asira al-Shamaliyya. According to them, traffic also moved pretty quickly today at ‘Anabta.
After stopping at Jamal's grocery store in Dir Sharaf where we heard about difficulties in getting foodstuffs through in the morning, mainly pitas, because of the new prohibition imposed by the soldiers: in order to use carts to move merchandise through the checkpoint, a sniffer-dog has to be present.
There are no soldiers at the Jit checkpoint, and traffic flows freely.
We continue to 'Azzun-'Atma.