Beit Iba, Thu 19.6.08, Afternoon
According to Tomer the Matak representative on duty, we had just missed the difficult hours at the CP by a half hour .There had been a lot of traffic and pedestrians. There had been detainees who had been kept for about 45 minutes. Usually the crowds of people leaving Nablus on Thursday starts at about 15:00. This is the first week that students are back from vacation
Through out our shift there was almost no line of traffic in either direction. The one time during the shift that there was a line of vehicles waiting to Nablus was when we arrived at 14:56. At that time there were 6 vehicles on line and the last on line passed through to Nablus at 15:02 – 6 minutes later. At 15:03 there were 4 vehicles on line from Nablus and the 4th passed through at 15:07. It seems that checking each vehicle took about a minute. There was a doctor leaving Nablus who did not have a permit for his car and so he was not allowed to pass through. Smadar checked this with the Humanitarian Hot Line and there is no special treatment for doctors.
There were 2 turnstiles open for the young men coming from Nablus and it took about a minute to check each person (From 15:19 until 15:51 thirty four men passed through.) There were consistently about 30 young men waiting behind each turnstile. At 15:31 I noted a young man who was last on line and it took him 25 minutes to get to the front of the line. As usual the men had to go back and forth through the metal detector trying to figure out what was causing the buzzer to ring. This is what took the majority of the time. At one point one of the young men was actually asked to unbutton his pants and pull them down slightly in order to make sure he wasn't hiding anything because removing all the usual apparatus did not stop the mechanism from buzzing. There were from 25 to 40 people on the sideline ("humanitarian line" which includes women, older men, and people with special permits). At 15:03 it took 5 minutes for the 30th person on line to get to the front. At 15:08 it took 4 minutes for the 40th person on line to get to the front. Many times women were allowed to pass without being check. Ten to twenty pedestrians waited on the line to Nablus. IDs weren't always checked. There were no detainees during our shift. While we were there Raad who is head of the Matak of Nablus came to check out the situation. He said he came because this is the first Thursday since the university vacation ended and he wanted to make sure things were running smoothly. He came at 15:15 and left along with Tomer at 15:30. According to Raad, Matak representatives remain at Beit Iba until 17:00 during the week. On Thursdays they stay until 15:30 since that is the day they go home. We wondered at this since Thursdays is often the most difficult afternoon at Beit Iba. Raad told us that about 8,000 of the students who study at the university in Nablus come from the surrounding towns. Many of them live in Nablus during the week and go home only on Thursdays. It is too difficult for them to go back and forth through the CPs everyday.
Another hot, muggy day at the checkpoints where the fact that Palestinians must go through a CP while passing from one Palestinian town to another nowhere near the border into Israel is not questioned. People who are trying to get to their families, or to work, or back from work, to the hospital, to a doctor, to school or to the university are held up and checked every few kilometers. It makes it too expensive and too difficult to leave the house without a very good reason.