Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 28.5.08, Morning
Translation: Hanna K.
In general we encountered today almost empty CPs and relaxed and reasonable, within the framework of the occupation routine.
We heard another Palestinian version about the Palestinian boy who was shot and killed at the CP a week ago, for no fault of his.
According to the soldiers he served as proof for the necessity of CPs. Not enough that he died - each side uses him for its purposes.
At Awarta a truck driver explained to us how a stretch which normally takes 2 hours to pass, takes 11 hours, all because of the CPs. Thus the Palestinian economy is destroyed.
Yitamar is taking over new areas belonging to the inhabitants of Beit Furik.
We passed by a bumpy road which the drivers have to go by from the Awarta CP, because they are not allowed to drive on the major road, reserved for Jews only.
The entrance to Marda is open. To Zeita - it is closed.
Za'tara Junction (Tapuah) - 8:00
The junction is rather empty. Checking is being performed for thos traveling from the west and from the north, but in both cases the queues are short. In the case of a bus that arrived from the west the passengers were not told to leave the bus, which is a refreshing renovation.
Reserve soldiers. Captain R. behaves pleasantly and is also prepared to answer each question. Passengers are made to alight only if there is a warning, and it also depends on whether the warning refers to women or men. And in general "the orders from above are not to bully people without reason".
At the CP there are soldiers, border policemen and military policemen. According to the commander - all are responsible to him and he is the person who has the final say on each problem (at other CPs we encountered a different hierarchy).
When we passed at the CP on our way back at 12:50 the situation was similar.
Huwwara CP - 8:20-8:45
During our entire stay at the CP not even one car passed through it.
At the exit from Nablus there are two queues for young men who pass through the magnometer (they have to remove their belts, sometimes their shoes too). Both queues are short. There is a new unit, all in all they behave without irregularities. An invalid in a wheel chair passes on the road, together with an escort, as he cannot pass through the turnstiles.
Contrary to the fact that there are few people passing through the CP, the parking lot is very lively: taxis, people, stalls.
At all the CPs we visited today the soldiers reminded us of the young boy who was shot at the CP about a week ago, as a clear proof for the necessity of CPs for the prevention of terror. About what had happened there we heard different versions. From the owner of a stall who had been present at the CP at the time we heard that the young boy had a cellular phone tied together with wires (which the soldiers suspected to be part of a demolition charge). He was shot with 8 bullets, and lay at the CP from 20:30 to 23:30. The CP was shut and people were sent to pass at Awarta. Later he was taken by a Palestinian ambulance to the Rafidia hospital.
In the big parking lot there are 3 lonely trucks. A truck with upholstery material intended for Ramallah is being checked by the dog. Part of the goods is thrown on the road. A big truck passes on the road without being checked. A private vehicle is leaving Nablus.
We tried to find out from the drivers who were there why trucks were prevented from passing at Awarta. They said it was because of the dog who is impure and defiles everything it comes into contact with. They also said that it was because they are obliged to unload the merchandise in view of everybody, and the merchants are not interested that people should see what goods they are dealing with.
After a visit at Za'tara and Huwwara it seems that there is hardly any movement of goods at the north and the center of the west bank. The main problem are the CPs.
We checked together with a driver from Hebron, with the help of a map, how one gets by truck from Hebron to Jenin, a distance of about 150 kms, a journey which, without CPs one can make in about two hours. We checked the possibilities of passage on the roads and at the different CPs, and the bypassing of the CPs where one is required to have special permits, and we arrived at 11 hours. This is what destroy up the Palestinian economy.
The Beit Furik checkpoint 9:30-9:55
The owner of a van full of eggs from Beit Furik who passes every days at the CP says that in the last four days the CP is calm. "what happened to them? Did they go mad?"
When we arrived the CP commander demanded that we stand at the edge of the shed, otherwise he would be obliged to assign to us a guard (what is the difference?).
Here too the traffic is sparse.
There are two queue, for men and for women. The truck drivers are requested to leave their vehicle before they hand over their papers for checking.
While we were there three jeeps of military patrol arrived at the CP.
At the improvised kiosk they complained that the CP and the Apartheid road turn the village into a prison.
The CP is active between 5:30 and 21:00. Before and after that one cannot enter or leave.
Recently the Palestinian police has begun being active. There is satisfaction at the improvement in the personal security and the prevention of lawbreaking.
We were told that the inhabitants of Yitamar (A Jewish settlement) are lately taking control of the fields of the inhabitants of Beit Furik and are paving a road on them for one of the many "daughter settlements" of Yitamar. We therefore decided to enter the village and to check the matter at the municipality. We were warmly received and we immediately entered the room of the mayor, they have already contacted "Yesh Din", "The Citizens' Rights Organisation" and "Betzelem".
Edna tells us that they suffer from water shortage, because of the settlements which confiscate the water allotements without heeding the size of the population, especially considering the draught year. After each family uses up the rain water that has been collected in a hole in the courtyard, they are forced to buy water from a central well, and to store it in tanks on the roofs.
Near the council building at Beit Furik there is the bakery of Abu Laban. The bakery is as if it was taken from a comics strip. One goes up three stairs and enters a not very big room, a little bit obscure, with a sooty ceiling which shows signs of attempts to clean it. Opposite gapes the mouth of a big furnace with wood burning inside it, wood not gas. In the depth of the furnace a few covered pots. We asked the bakers what was in the pots. It turned out that people bring the pots with the meat intended for slow cooking to the neighborhood furnace.
On the table in front of the furnace there are about six wooden moulds in which there is dough waiting to be beaten flat. Immediately upon our entering the bakery the bakers entered into a "visitors standby position". One ran and brought eggs and oil. The second beat the dough flat and when the eggs arrived they broke them by twos into small bowls, spread the eggs on the beaten dough, added oil, salted sheep cheese and threw it into the furnace. Inbal took advantage of this opportunity to evade her motherly duties, ordered a few pittas with za'tar and cheese to take home for lunch. We cheekily asked whether we could also have some tea. Again one of the bakers ran with a kettle and returned with a pot of sweet tea and five glasses.
With a full belly and a happy heart we passed the shattered car. Because of the music of the pittot in our belly we didn't actually see the car, and after about hundred meters the sight entered our conscience and we returned to the shattered car which stood on the edge of the road at the entrance to Yitamar.
Near the shattered car stood a military armored personnel carrier in which there were three shaken soldiers. Did you see? They asked us excitedly. Did you see the shits? Did you see what they did? Take photographs and report to the whole world.
This was a Palestinian car which so it seemed missed the clear signpost at the entrance to the Alon More road which clearly says "entrance for Arabs forbidden" and entered the forbidden road.
It is impossible to know what has happened there. Did the driver got stuck on his way, left the car at the side of the road to call a towing truck? Did he suddenly understand where he was, left the car and glided from the road into Nablus?
It seemed that the car was without its driver when the people from the area found it. One shouldn't, of course. Draw conclusions about the character of the people who shattered the car. But it is possible to say that the car was two meters from the entrance of Itamar. The nearby villages are Awarta, Beit Furiq and Beit Dajan whose inhabitants are not allowed to be on the road, not even near it. And no Palestinian has any interest in demolishing a Palestinian car.
Whoever demolished the car was very thorough. All the tires were punctured, the hood of the fuel tank was ripped out, all the windows were smashed. On the front window there was a rock of such a size that could be lifted, and moreover thrown three times (the pictures show the three times) on the same front window, only by somebody with a deep madness and a burning hatred. The mirrors, the lamps, everything that could be smashed, was smashed. Inside the car the radio was ripped out, as well as the mirror, and the upholstery was destroyed.
The soldiers said that the police was in Yitamar and was conducting an energetic investigation. They will surely put at the entrance to Yitamar concrete blocks as at the entrance to the village of Zeita or the entrance to Azzun from where stones were thrown on Israeli vehicles.
The only consolation here was that underneath the registration number was an address of a car hire company at Ramallah.
On the way to Huwwara we saw a Palestinian towing truck accompanied by a IDF jeep on its way to the demolished car. All of us suddenly felt the urge to have another bite of hot pita.
From there we drove to the village of Huwwara by the way of the village of Awarta, to check the way which the trucks, which load or unload goods at the Awarta CP have to pass, because the road (beautifully paved) from there to the Huwwara CP is an Apartheid road intended for Jews only. We drove through narrow winding alleyways, by which it seemed impossible for a big truck to drive through. The truck which we followed stopped at a certain point and we didn't see it anymore. How did it manage to get through?