Beit Iba, Jit, Shave Shomron, Thu 28.8.08, Afternoon
16.00 Shavei Shomron checkpoint. The gate is open 12 hours a day (6.00-18.00). Good to see many cars travelling the road that had been closed since July 2005, but sad to know that it closes for 12 hours, and so early at that. William photographs the wall along the road from both sides: on the Palestinian side it is grey cement, on the side of the settlements it is covered partly in stone and coloured in an optimistic blue-green .
16.30 Beit Iba. Many taxis, long lines – 17 at the entrance and at least 10 at the exit. We arrived exactly when passage was resumed after a 20 minute pause due to a suspicious object. At least 600 people waiting at the exit, 200 in each of the three lines including the side lane. The line extended the full length of the shed, people were crowded, perspiring and irritable.
Although there were at least 30 soldiers, we saw no special organizing towards speeding up the checking to shorten the line that had built up. In any case, the Thursday line is very long because the study week now ends on Thursday, rather than Wednesday as in the past, and there are many students returning home for the weekend.
A request to the commander to arrange for more soldiers to check those leaving results in summoning police.
After 20 minutes, we see that an additional soldier is checking bags (all on the floor, to the last sock). At the same time a truck enters, loaded with sand, and the soldiers barely glance at the driver’s permit.
Checking of goods on carts is rigorous. Every old and used item is unpacked - simply as harassment, as the soldier hardly looks at them. As for checking of trucks, there is not even a pretence of checking their contents.
Two soldiers start running towards a group of youngsters who have decided to forgo the experience of standing two hours in a sweating queue. A big group manages to get way but three are caught and put in the enclosure. All the time at least one soldier is on guard so that we should not overstep the white line by one millimeter. A really logical division of effort!
17.15 With heavy hearts we leave the checkpoint when there are still 200 people waiting. People leaving the line are dripping wet.
17.40 No checkpoint at Jit junction.
No checkpoints on the road joining route 55 to route 5.
Next to the village Zawiah, in a tent on route 5, are 2 detainees. We cannot stop.
Shaar Shomron-ID’s checked and car-boot opened. The settlers’ line is closed.