Beit Iba, Wed 16.7.08, Morning
Trans. Judith Green
Beit Iba c/p
We arrived at 7:20; there was a moderate line at the entrance to Nablus, about 30 pedestrians waiting for inspection. The DCO rep opened the humanitarian line. He reported to us that previously the line had been very long, with a 2 hour wait. We don't know why, but 2 hours certainly sounds like too much (the checkpoint opens at 5).
An armoured personnel carried climbed in the direction of Kusin. Usually that happens after an electronic report concerning Palestinians trying to get around the checkpoint (dribbling through, in army language).
There was a discouragingly small number of vehicles going through the checkpoint in both directions. According to the DCO rep, recently they have stopped taking young men out of the buses for inspection in the pedestrian line. In spite of what he said, we saw a driver let all his passengers out. "You can go through with them", we called out. "I don't have a permit," he said. And this is exactly the case: the checkpoint functions well, no lines, no violence, no harassment, but only a small number of vehicles are given permits.
Two taxi drivers are taken into the detention shed. One is released almost immediately. The second is detained. The checkpoint commander speaks with him. We are not able to hear from where we are standing but, according to the body language of both sides, there is no aggressiveness beyond the actual situation of prisoner and warden. The checkpoint commander and the DCO rep promise to release the detainee soon.
A construction worker approached us whose magnetic card had been taken away this week. He narrated the usual process of harassment caused by the work permits: for years he had worked for the same employer. When he found a better work place, the previous boss sent a complaint against him ("either he works for me or not at all within Israel"). Because of the complaint, his work license was revoked immediately, without his voice being heard at all or being able to answer the charges against him. His story was exceptional only because he had support from Israeli citizens who were willing to confirm his version, to give this testimony before before any authority whatsoever and even to pay the trial fees for him. We referred him to Sylvia Peterman.
Also someone who was apparently mentally disabled turned to us, with a long story about an employer in Baka al Garbia who refused to take him back to work after he was ill (he knocked himself on the head as illustration). Since he had been working without a permit, we told him that we couldn't help him. He began to shout cursing all Israeli Arabs. "Whipped cream Arabs," he called them. Nadim said this is a common epithet in the West Bank.