Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 23.6.08, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
12:20 Shomron Gate, we entered Palestine.
12:45 Za'tara (Tapuach) - t
Tree vehicles come from the west. Five vehicles from the direction of Ramallah. A driver is suspected of driving a stolen car. Detained on the side for about an hour.
13:05 Settlers are drawing on the wall surrounding the army camp (on the apartheid road leading to the Beit Furik checkpoint). One of them throws a small rock at us.
13:10 Beit Furik
Little pedestrian traffic and vehicles coming from Nablus. Sacks and handbags are checked with the hand-held magnemometers. One of the soldiers insists that "its illegal for us to be at the checkpoint. It's not me, it's the law." But the checkpoint commander surprises both him and us: "You're not allowed to enter Area A, but you're allowed to be at the checkpoint."
Three lanes open to check the men. The line is long (and very orderly. We wondered what had occurred here prior to our arrival.) They pass under the magnemometer. The men wait about an hour - we asked four of them, and always received the same answer. "It's too fast," says one, who hasn't lost his sense of humor. "Yesterday it took two hours."
A line to the side for women, children and elderly men. The stream of people leaving Nablus doesn't stop at all. Many families, very many children. Babies as well. Some of those going through are sent with their bags to the x-ray vehicle situated on the other side of the checkpoint. A few minutes after we arrive they also begin to check ID cards of people entering Nablus. An MP, and then a policewoman, compare ID numbers with a printed list. Bags are checked. From time to time a line forms. The checkpoint commander refuses to talk to us. "Go back to your place" he yelled at Makki, meaning the white line that has meanwhile been painted blue.
Vehicle traffic - at the entry to Nablus ID cards and permits are checked. Few vehicles in this direction, they pass through quickly, and only once, when the shifts changed, was there a traffic jam. The stream of vehicles exiting the city doesn't stop. The passengers get out a little before the checkpoint, the driver brings the vehicle closer, the passengers continue on foot. The vehicle is checked, the passengers are sent with their bags to the x-ray vehicle, and after they're searched and their ID cards checked they're allowed to continue on their way. The checking is stricter today than usual, and therefore it takes more time, 5-6 minutes per vehicle (usually we observe it to take 2-3 minutes), depending on the number of passengers (not including, of course, the waiting time until the person gets to the checking station, which we weren't able to estimate).
A young man in solitary confinement - for two hours, he says. We contacted the humanitarian office. Later T, the DCO representative, told us that the man was from Gaza, and was turned over to the police to handle.
Between 13:40 and 14:05 another young man was detained in solitary.
13:40 A taxi approaches rapidly, honking loudly. An elderly woman lying down inside, having fainted. For some reason that isn't clear they're not permitted to enter Nablus (apparently the driver doesn't have a permit). The driver may enter Nablus if he leaves his ID card at the checkpoint and doesn't return after 18:00.
13:50 Three elderly people, two women and a man, leave Nablus through the humanitarian line. People passing through this line are subject to a random check, and asked to display what's in their bags. One of the women has difficulty standing, sits down, leans against the wall (photo on the right). They remove X-rays from large envelopes and show them to the soldiers.
At 14:45 vehicle passengers are prevented from entering Nablus freely (their backs are to Israel).
Women wait for the husbands on the far side of the checkpoint from Nablus, where we're standing. Also some young men, waiting for a friend to come through. "Ruh min hon zalma," yells a soldier. "Shemesh al haras" one of them replies. They want to be in the shade. The weather doesn't interest the soldiers. The Palestinians leave.
The sights at the checkpoint are familiar - an old man leaning on a cane, finding it difficult to stand for such a long time, helped by a man he met on line. Students carrying books returning from a day studying. A male nurse from a hospital complains about the difficulty medical personnel have passing through the checkpoint. The humanitarian office told us that "it was up to the discretion of the checkpoint commander."
17:10 Za'tara (Tapuach) is empty coming from Ramallah, four vehicles coming from the west.