Beit Iba, Jit, Mon 21.7.08, Afternoon
Not cruelty and purposeful harassment, but control, torment and humiliation - this is what characterizes the checkpoint. That is enough in order to understand how much hatred builds up day after day at these checkpoints, making the renewal of terror inevitable.
At the exit an adult man stands opposite the inspection booth for those entering, next to the fence. The soldier orders him to get away from the checkpoint. The man points toward the inspection booth. The soldier: "You are waiting for him? Wait a little farther away." I tell the soldier that he is actually waiting for his ID. (If he had moved farther away, perhaps the soldier would not have found it to return it to him). The soldier explains that he is in the way there, though it doesn't seem so, and the impression is that he simply needs to demonstrate his authority.
People come through the turnstile, belts in hand, sometimes also shoes. They put them back on in front of us and you can see the embarrassment and helplessness in their down turned eyes. But this time at least the soldier doesn't make a comment or ask me to move away, when he says to me: "See, I am nice!" An older man leaves the checkpoint and says: "When you are here, the soldiers are easier. You need to be here all the time". He doesn't know that in half an hour it won't be easy at all.
15:15 At the vehicles checkpoint two soldiers are inspecting the cars coming in. One of the soldiers sucks on a lollypop. Every car is inspected for several minutes, documents, an inspection of the car and a conversation with the driver. The soldiers wave me goodbye and one of them shouts to me, "Stay a little longer, the Blue and White women are expected to come! They were here and left and are expected to return. Stay a little, it will be fun!"
15:25 A porter brings in a donkey attached to a cart, loaded with plastic bags full of clothes. The soldier stops him and does not allow him through. A short argument is of no help. The porter returns and exhibits endurance. He takes apart all the bags on the side of the road leading to Kusin, and leaves only three bags on the cart and tries again to enter. The soldier gets angry and yells at him for having unloaded the bags at the side of the road but, after a short argument, he apologizes and inspects the bags. The porter tears the plastic and there are jeans inside. The soldier allows the merchandise through only after the porter tears all the bags. On the other side, a car waits upon which all the jeans are piled on the roof; the porter returns to bring more bags a number of times. I counted 17 bags. Every time the porter returns with more bags, he complains: "I have to go back and forth 20 times!" Three times the porter went through without inspection, when the soldiers were busy with other things. Two additional times the soldiers forced him to tear the bags and show them the contents. All of them contained jeans, and all of this happened at the entrance into Nablus.
15:45 The soldiers left the vehicles checkpoint to chase after a youth. The soldiers bring him back to the detention shed and the vehicles wait for about 10 minutes until they return to their booth.
16:00 The soldiers argue with one of the drivers who arrived. The tension rises and the soldier grabs the Palestinian in anger by his arm and brings him to the detention shed while shouting. In all the confusion, he enters the turnstile from the wrong direction, until he is directed to the detention shed. We couldn't find out what happened, since, once again, the inspection of the vehicles was halted, this time for even longer. I find the DCO rep and bring it to his attention. He brings the soldiers back and joins them in the inspection. The youth who was apprehended is released.
At the pedestrian checkpoint, a group of about 10 women of different ages, with their possessions, goes through another nightmare: to get around the checkpoint by way of the inspection cell/booth, while two Military Policewomen give them directions. They proceed in a line, confused, not knowing whether or not they are understanding the orders. At first, some of the young women fool around, little by little the smiles are wiped from their faces. And when they come out, curses replace the jokes. It seems that, from now on, all women leaving Nablus have to go this way. Hundreds. Some are young, some are really old, hardly able to walk. When there are husbands or children, they are separated. One young woman says to me: "Why are they doing it to us?" And I have nothing to say to her except for identifying with their distress. To this she answers "God bless you". Many of them have babies in their arms and packages in their hands. They can't manage, even putting the package down is hard and at the same time, the baby, and also to enter the inspection booth for a body check. A sight that is very difficult to stand. I tell this to the DCO rep. He says, "I also find it hard. But there is a warning about some woman, and an order to inspect all the women."
16:20 Two officers appear and ask us how we are doing, is everything all right. We gesture toward the women. They promise to check, but there is no change.
17:00 The porter now brings cartons. This time he also is forced to empty the cart and open each carton.
17:10 We leave. The women with their children and elders continue to be put through the body search.
17:20 The J'it checkpoint is manned on the southern side. The documents of the drivers are checked, but there is no traffic jam. Opposite the pink house across the street there is a new sign, hand drawn, stuck on the road. "Welcome to Shvut Ami", and a tent behind it. A boy comes out of the pink house.