Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 6.7.08, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
15:10 - Tapuach/Za'tara Junction Checkpoint
No waiting cars in any direction, no detainees.
15:20 - Huwwara Checkpoint
commander: Second Lieutenant E., DCO representative: T.
Few cars exiting, relatively swift check. In the pedestrian lines waiting time is reported as half an hour to 45 minutes, some complain about 2 or even 3 hours...
Starting at 15:45 suddenly everyone entering Nablus gets checked, both in pedestrian path and vehicle lane. To this end, one of the exiting pedestrian checking posts closes down and only two (instead of three) are active. A pair of soldiers (one holding a manual metal-detector and exceptionally rough handling people) stand at the entering pedestrian path, checking IDs and and younger men's bodies.
In the meantime, the exiting pedestrians are checked with more and more stress, the soldiers bellow like bulls "Come over here!!!!" to summon each and every individual, and are very amusingly (and discretely) imitated by a pair of young boys who exit and echo them to each other and to us.
Still in the meantime, in the vehicle checking lane, a long heavy waiting line of vehicles wishing to enter Nablus, now subjected to very meticulous inspections.
An incident evolves: MP Sergeant Z. very roughly instructs a taxi driver and his 3 passengers to get out, raise hands etc. When the driver answers him bitterly, the sergeant gets extremely aggressive and begins to threaten him, sounding increasingly vehement: "Get out of my face!" The driver: "Don't speak to me like this, I'm old enough to be your father!" Sergeant Z.: 'I'll knock your face in", "Shut up already!"
The driver repeats: "Don't speak to me like this". That is all the sergeant needed to hear, he's ready to hit the roof. Finally, after the taxi stood off the road for 20 minutes, DCO T. wants to let them through, but... "Just a minute," Z. is back in the picture: "E. (commander) is getting the okay to detain him for three hours!"
He continues, for our sake: "After you complained (to the army hotline) about me, let them wait here for three hours!" He is surprised to learn that they will not be detained, but does not forego a repeated inspection, opening bags disparagingly, checking with his metal detector again. When Galit comments to the commander that his subordinate is "hot-headed", he says: "I've calmed him down. Now he'll work like a professional."
A little while later, Z. stands next to Noa who is video-taping the checking taking place in the entrance path. In spite of the commander's appeals that he get back to the vehicle checks that have slowed down even more, he insists on "working' on the single-file order-keeping of the entering pedestrians.
An elderly woman sits on the ground, waiting for nearly an hour for a relative in the lines.
16:30 - a vehicle with passengers on their return from Mecca, have spent the last 48 hours on the road, checked at all the possible checkpoints on the way. They are now ordered out of the car, a man, a woman and 3 children ages 4-8. "This is not security, this is punishment" the man says bitterly. "Don't you talk politics to me!" the commander answers.
The checks resume their normal procedure at 16:55.
17:30 - a family of Israeli ID holders living in Jaffa is on its way back from a family visit in Nablus. The soldiers detain them, holding the young man near the concrete cubicle, threatening him with detention inside if he keeps asking too many questions. In the meantime they check the IDs of all the women - his mother, aunt, cousins and sisters.
Two more young women detained - Israeli ID holders as well, returning from Nablus.
Everyone is waiting for the police whom we're not even sure has really been summoned.
We leave at 18:30 after giving our phone numbers to the detainees in order for them to inform us further. Until the writing of this report, we have heard nothing and hope that indeed nothing has transpired and they were released soon afterwards.
Beit Furiqk Checkpoint 16:50 - 17:15
Observers: Judit B., Tal H.
"All quiet on this front", meaning there are hardly any vehicles, a trickle of pedestrians. We conclude that the dangerous person expected to enter Nablus through Huwwara - red alert and the reason for the careful thorough checking of all pedestrians and cars entering Nablus - must have announced that it will not be entering town here...