Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 20.7.08, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
There are 48 vehicles in the queue at the west to east roadblock. A car driver at the front of the queue tells us that he has been waiting for an hour. The driver of a bus being inspected looks at his watch and tells us that he has been waiting for an hour and five minutes. The soldiers, reservists, tell us that the jam is due to a warning. They work quickly, they appear to be trying to cut down the long queue but they are hampered by those who are checking all the car registration numbers against a list and also because there is only one inspection lane.
We called Shiri at the Centre, she promised to look into the problem.
Za'tara, the northern site
There are a lot of soldiers, reservists. There is uneasiness and tension. Two jeeps are parked there and during our stay another jeep joined them. 2 majors are active, one of them comes up to us and offers to give us water if we are intending to stay long and we get thirsty.
Three inspection points are staffed.
A settler rushes up to the soldiers, breathing hard, claiming that she was standing at the junction when Palestinians came and shouted at her: We'll kidnap a Jew! She expects the soldiers to try and catch them, or at least guard her while she is at the junction. She claims to be afraid to stand there on her own. The soldiers listen to her and return to their positions. I go over and she requests: perhaps you wouldn't mind coming to stand with me; I'm frightened of standing there alone. When I don't respond she continues: you protect the Palestinians, why can't you protect me as well, I'm human too! When I ask her: what about them? She replies: they are savages!
A bus arrives. The passengers remain on board; their documents are taken to be inspected and are returned after a short while.
Drivers, crowding together north of the roadblock, have got out of their vehicles to wait. They tell us that they have been waiting for two hours.
Another female settler talks to the soldiers, we are unable to hear the conversation but see her leave the roadblock with an emphatic step and a face like thunder.
We count 23 vehicles from the roadblock northwards.
34 vehicles are in the queue. The turnstile is empty but about 8 pedestrians are walking towards it.
There are no vehicles at the entrance to the town; afterwards two lorries arrived. There are 2 lorries at the back-to-back area and 2 vehicles at the exit from Awarta.
We are preceded by the ear-shattering wail of the magnometer.
There are about 30 people at the turnstiles. No one is inspecting vehicles at the entrance to Nablus and it is barred. Lieutenant Tareq of the DCO is present and we draw his attention to this fact. He explains this with the information that the soldiers are at present being briefed and, indeed, we see a group of soldiers sitting and listening to the commander. However, Tareq moves the barrier, inspects and sends cars through.
Eran, the commander, comes over to us and lets us know that there is about to be an exercise and we should not be afraid.
The exercise commences: soldiers with their weapons at the ready, run into the turnstiles ordering those standing there to move back behind the northern exit of the roadblock. We hear shocked and resentful voices from those crossing. People approaching the roadblock from Nablus are also redirected north to a distance of 20 - 30 metres from the roadblock. Those who were already at the turnstiles have to leave their bags there for a dog to sniff. Not a pleasant sight.
We notice heavy traffic in the direction of Nablus. Apparently also the traffic going to Nablus was stopped while the exercise was taking place and now there are about 200 people here at the north, standing in the boiling hot sun, among them small children and a young woman holding a baby in her arms.
We go over to T., and he does talk to the commander and try to get him to let the people through who are at the west of the roadblock. The commander, who is relatively new, hesitates but in the end agrees to T's request. And in a matter of minutes all those waiting cross and the lane towards Nablus empties.
There are about 50 people at the turnstiles at the exit from Nablus.
We leave the roadblock.
There are 68 vehicles from the north. We called Nimrod at the Centre, he promised to look into the matter.
There are 23 vehicles from the west.