Beit Iba, Tue 17.6.08, Morning
There is a change in shift which means the Palestinians have to wait and it is horrible.
07:30-08:30. As we got to the checkpoint we were horrified to see an enormous crowd of people waiting in long lines, men young and not so young. The commander and his men are busy "educating" those wanting to leave or enter Nablus and they have to stand quietly behind the white line far from the booth: calls of "go back, go back" and the soldiers pushing and a loud shout erupts from the waiting crowd. It could be very frightening. The commander tells them in excellent Hebrew that he can close the checkpoint for up to 30 minutes. And that is it. He gives the order to the soldiers not to let people through for 30 minutes. And so it was. People had to stand and wait until he decided that they could go through again into Nablus. We tried to explain to him that what he was doing was not legal but he refused to speak to us. He disappeared. The soldier in the booth said he could not disobey orders. Another soldier claims that they brought it on themselves. We proposed to the DCO to call a higher commander with experience. But the DCO seemed to be weak even though afterwards he showed more initiative.
We phoned the humanitarian centre and warned that there would be a human disaster to an attentive soldier. Again and again and again. We saw that phone calls were made to the DCO and the commander. At this stage the DCO representative took action and began letting people through with a quick and superficial checking and within 10 minutes everyone had gone through. Only the soldier in the booth was left to deal with those unlucky enough to arrive at his station: the shirt taken up and the pants raised. It seems that someone has to keep on humiliating.