Beit Iba, Wed 11.6.08, Morning
Beit Iba, 07:30-09:30
Traffic entering Nablus flows very freely with only spot checking. There's no change in the rules regarding people leaving the city; young men pass through the metal detector. Nevertheless, according to the DCO representative, since the checkpoints at Al-Bidan and Asira-a-Shamaliyya were opened, pressure on this checkpoint has been greatly reduced in the afternoon as well, when the students leave the city.
The atmosphere is relaxed, no yelling or people being humiliated. The checkpoint commander is polite to us and answers our questions. There's a detainee in the shed "whose number came up" - which means, in this case, that his entire ID number matched, not only the last four digits. He's released in approximately a quarter of an hour.
Three taxi drivers prevented from entering with their vehicles ask us for help. One doesn't know the reason for the refusal. We told him to speak to the DCO representative at the checkpoint. The second does know; the police refuse him entry because he has traffic tickets. He shows us a form indicating that he's paid all the fines. The problem seems to be with the police computer, or coordination between the police and the DCO. According to him, he came to the DCO many times but wasn't able to speak to the representative of the police. We referred him to the person in the Jerusalem traffic police headquarters who speaks Arabic.
The third claims he paid the fine, but lost the receipt. All the drivers burst out laughing in disbelief.
Gal, the Civil Administration's representative who handles inquiries from the public, says that the two drivers were turned back because "there are enough taxi drivers in Nablus, and these two have no special reason to go there, nor are they residents of Nablus; let them make a living in Tulkarm." When I asked him whether he'd give the same answer to a driver from Kfar Saba who wants to go to Tel Aviv, he didn't even understand the question. Regarding whether failure to pay traffic fines is a sufficient reason to prevent someone from entering Nablus, he promised to find out. He said than since June 1 persons refused by the police are entitled to obtain a magnetic card. Haya O., who's handling the matter, says that's not what actually happens in practice.