Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), יום ב' 25.8.08, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
The routine blinds one because it makes you disregard how harsh the place is and you begin to perceive it as normal...
The Beit Furiq drivers are happy this morning due to the expected release of 199 prisoners as a gesture towards Abu Mazen.
There are 21 cars in the queue going towards two checkpoints from the direction of Nablus. There is no queue from the west.
At the entrance to Beita
Two Border Police cars have stopped a bus on the shoulder of the road and are inspecting documents of passengers who have been taken off the bus. Have they not already been inspected at Huwwara? Will they not be stopped again at Za'atra?
Pupils in school uniform are going to schools which have started their new term this week. There are no pavements or road safety patrols, only dirt paths indicate the curb side. As usual, drivers drive too fast, endangering the pupils.
On the way to Beit Furiq a military jeep surveys the road.
Neither people nor cars are experiencing hold ups. There are no queues. We are pushed to the line indicated to us.
At the car park café: somewhere to wake up with a coffee and the chatter of the Beit Furiq drivers and to get a sense of the atmosphere. It is an exciting day. 199 prisoners will be released by Israel as a gesture to Abu Mazen, one of them has been in prison for 31 years! People are leaving Nablus via Huwwara to welcome them at Beitonia or Ramallah, where Abu Mazen will receive them. They will get to Huwwara roadblock at midday. There is joy in the drivers' eyes. There will be crowds waiting there. Interestingly I did not hear about it on the news nor see any headlines about it in the newspapers this morning. But this morning there is happiness at the café. The methods of the media are interesting...
Osama asks about the situation in the area and asks about peace. For the past six years he has been trying every month to obtain a magnetic card to enable him to work legally in Israel. He wastes two days a month and is sent back and forth... meanwhile he manages here and there to get in under the guise of a merchant, but actually he works illegally in the building trade. How can we make a living? Here, look at this paper. I buy more stamps and still more stamps but still don't get a magnetic card. What does getting a card depend on? Just the mood of the soldier at the DCO. It's a matter of luck...
In his estimation 30% of the men he knows work illegally in Israel. Only 3% get a work permit.
It takes about 20 minutes to get across. All of the apparatus of the roadblock is functioning today: two lanes are open, the x-ray machine, the dog handler and her frightening dog search the cars leaving, the men are asked to remove belts. Today the cell is empty. A., the commander, does not push us but comes over to talk to us. He is measured, relaxed and believes in his task. The DCO representative, T., compliments him. He is aware of the expected release of prisoners. He points out the bus just exiting from Nablus on the way to their reception. Each passenger is wearing a tee shirt printed with the image of a prisoner (apparently from the family) and a peaked cap for the event. A., hopes that they won't come back one at a time but en masse.
The unhumanitarian queue stalls because ‘the female soldier is asleep' according to those crossing, but actually she is feeling unwell, is moved and the queue moves on unhindered. Everyone complains that in the afternoon and evening the queues are long and slow. This information is confirmed by A., the commander; he explains that it is in his interest too to keep the queues short because then it is easier to catch suspects.
We collect Said for a visit to his 14 year old son who is in ‘Reoot' hospital in Yad Eliahu. He is in a vegetative state and showing no signs of progress. His son was run over by a settler at the side of the road in Huwwara village. The settler was driving too fast and injured him critically twice. That was a year and two months ago.
As noted above, all the Huwwara pupils continue to be in danger of their lives.
There are 10 cars from the direction of Nablus. The traffic flows.