Beit Iba, Shave Shomron, Thu 14.8.08, Afternoon

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Smadar H., and Deborah L. (reporting) Translator: Charles K.

       15:40 Shavei Shomron On the way to Beit Iba we took route 60 toward Jenin to check out the at Shavei Shomron. This CP has been closed expect for humanitarian reasons for the last few years. As we drove through we saw 3 soldiers standing inside the army base off the main road but there was no booth checking cars passing through. When the soldiers saw us they came out and asked who we were. We said we are from Machomwatch and they smiled and said, "But this isn't a CP, it is an open road." 

15:50 Beit Iba The taxi drivers at Beit Iba told us the Shavei Shomron "open road" is open only from 06:00 to 18:00. They claim the fact that it is open part of the day does not change their business. Those who want to go north from Nablus go straight to Asira. It helps those who live in the immediate area. As we approach the checkpoin  a Palestinian man about 40 is holding the arm of a frail woman in her 80s who is finding it hard to walk and appears to be blind. He says to us in English: "The soldiers even wanted this woman to show her ID. I'm not even a relative I just saw her and felt sorry for her." There are no vehicles on line to Nablus, nor are their vehicles on line from Nablus. The turnstiles for the young men are empty and there are 12 people waiting on the side line ("humanitarian line") of older men and women of all ages. It seems that the students are still on vacation. The commanding officer is checking the IDs of those coming in against the list of "wanted" people. There is a list next to the soldier checking the side line coming from Nablus but he seldom looks at it. 

16:06 There are young men on line from time to time. Both turnstiles are working. About 10 young men are waiting behind the one on the south side. There is no one  waiting behind the turnstile on the north side until one young man comes into the CP and goes to that one and discovers it isn't locked. Even though he sees it isn't locked  and he can go right up to the booth, he waits until the MP in the booth motions for him to come forward. Even though in the past we have noticed that the metal detector often buzzes randomly, today it seems to buzz only when a young man actually has metal on him—a watch, a cell phone, a belt… Shoes don't seem to be the problem today as they often are. When a vehicle does show up either from Nablus or to Nablus, it takes about a minute or two per vehicle to check. 

16:13-16:18 A truck stops at the CP from Nablus . He evidently doesn't have a permit. He tries to talk to the soldier and explain. The soldier calls the commanding officer to check the procedure. There is further discussion but in the end the truck must turn around and return to Nablus.

 16:20 The checking of each ID of those coming from Nablus to the side line of women, older men, and special cases is relaxed and a number of people are just waved through momentarily..Five vehicles are on the line to Nablus. It takes four minutes until the 5th passes through.   

16:48 A man in his 60s or 70s decides to wait on the young men's line behind the turnstile rather then the side line since it is shorter. There are about 20 on the side line and about 10 on the regular line..It takes him about 4 minutes to pass through, about the time it took the 20 people on the side line to pass through. He didn't really gain time. But you never know. I've been here when there was a 20 minute and even 30 minute wait on the side line.There is a changing around of the soldiers. The soldiers who were in the tower until now, come down and switch with those who are manning the CP. Again a shift in attitude and the women on the side line are waved through without checking them.

17:00  We get ready to leave and a contractor and his 4 workers stop us to ask for our help. They are all wearing the same black shirt with the name of the company. The contractor tells us he and all his workers are from Tulkarm and this morning he drove into Nablus with them to put in windows. He didn't go through Beit Iba but through Shavei Shomron. However he left Nablus right now by way of Beit Iba. One of the soldiers wouldn't let his 5th worker, a boy of 15, pass  through because the boy is too young for an ID and according to the rules he can only pass through the CP with one of his parents and a birth certificate. We lead him to the commanding officer who asks the contractor a few questions, goes to the Nablus side of the CP near the taxis where the boy is waiting with his tool box and asks him a few questions. He then brings the boy through. The boy has a bright smile on his face as he joins his fellow workers. The small favors that one becomes so grateful for in this dire reality.