Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 14.9.08, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
14:35 Road no. 5, about 2 km east of Shaar Shomron Checkpoint
A long straggling line of Palestinians (we estimated around 60 persons) is led by a Hummer in the back and several soldiers along and in front. We could not possibly pull over to the side at that point, and called to report to our MW friends and to the army hotline.
15:00 Tapuach-Za'tara Junction Checkpoint
About 13 cars waiting to be checked coming from Nablus. Autumn wild flowers are in bloom.
So is a large poster calling out "We are Signing the Samaria Convention".
15:15 Huwwara Checkpoint
CP commander- Lieutenant Itai (?), DCO representative - Tomer.
Another shift typified by overbearing, snide, hostile, pressured soldiers - and the commander setting a prominent personal example for all of the above.
Another scorching-hot day of Ramadan fasting for an endless flow of Palestinians who reach the checkpoint to be checked, blocked, delayed, pushed around, humiliated and suffocated.
From our usual second observation point across the vehicle checking lane, by the concrete cube near the "humanitarian point", one of us was chased away by the checkpoint commander with the usual claim that she "was getting in the way of his work" - as soon as she set foot at the spot. In view of his aggressive, Palestinian-hostile attitude throughout, we chose to move our observation a bit further south and not cause extra havoc.
3 checking posts for pedestrians - active. X-ray truck - active.
Exceedingly long waiting lines, very slow inspections, very stressed (soldiers ostensibly pressured and constantly fluctuating between rage and scornful laughter),
the special side line for women, children and the elderly also very long and slow, the DCO representative is more or less stranded there the whole time, checking them and inaccessible to anyone with problems that require his intervention.
As we arrive there are two detainees in the concrete hold, one already there for two hours (he says), from Beita village, we cannot figure out from what he says why he was detained and restrained. The other one is from Kablan, held 20 minutes already. We asked the commander why the detainee was handcuffed, to which he responded: "He touched a soldier's gun! Besides I'm the one who handcuffed him and it's not tight! Besides, the hold is not really a hold because the door is not locked..."
On the vehicle checking lane, a child leads a woman obviously blind. The soldiers tense up towards them. After a delay of 10 minutes, the DCO rep. checks them and they are allowed through.
A blind man with a cane and an escort wishes to pass along the same lane is sent back to the special side line to stand with everyone else and leave a half hour later.
Later, a man holding in his arms a toddler girl whose legs are splayed wide in a plaster cast, she - crying and exhausted, are made to wait around the concrete slabs until the mother returns from the X-ray truck. We are too far away to know more details.
One of the soldiers securing the inspection posts noticed us, took a wider stance and gruffly sent the inspectees back into the metal-detector again and again - not with a verbal order but with an actual push of the hand on their chest. This is the language.
Lots of 'action' on our shift: occasionally the soldiers see someone "leaking" around the checkpoint and burst out in a running chase. The first was an obviously retarded youth, and one of the soldiers (perhaps MPman) fired in the air. Immediately, a "life freeze" was announced on the PA system. Later on 2 officers and another MP arrive, perhaps to look into the incident. The other cases did not involve any shooting.
A MPwoman wonders: "Why life freeze? Because of a "leaker"?? Give me a break..."
Once in a while a cry-yelp-shout is heard in unison from the waiting lines crushed together in the searing heat like cooking sardines in a can.
16:30 - 4 detainees in the hold.
We meet internationals who had been at Asira Kabaliya and witnessed the colonist-settlers having a field-day there. They sounded shocked.
A mother (speaks only Arabic) is waiting for her son in the old shed. The MPwoman offers to call her son from the lines. But the commander prevents this - "stand aside until he shows up!" he tells her in pure Hebrew.
16:50 - The detainee community increases... Another man is detained, his cell phone taken from him. The soldier plays with the phone, removing and inserting the 'sim' card, finally handing it back to the detainee.
The crime of one of the detainees: he asked to get through with long metal pipes that cannot possibly fit into the turnstiles, bypassing the lines.
16:56 - another "leaker." The proud soldier leads him, gripping the back of his neck (like some rabbit or hamster), and shows him to the commander who joins in pushing him into the hold, eyes ablaze.
16:57 - another detainee released. 4 still inside.
Average waiting time in line: two hours.
17:15 - DCO rep. leaves.
17:45 - another detainee released. A new one brought in his stead. Several minutes later, sent to the end of the waiting line.
Waiting time down to one hour.
18:30 The waiting line does not cease. More and more people arrive, wait, are blocked, evening sets, the fast is supposed to break, but no - they are still stuck there for the sake of Israel's security, with soldiers laughing in scorn at our agitation in view of a young man limping painfully and hopping on one foot, leaning on his friend, and sent with a prompt gesture around and around to the turnstiles and dirt track.
Last week we thought things were bad... According to the suffering we witnessed now, today was worse by far. The soldiers had a good time telling each other that we (MW) should be burnt at the stake.
But this is just to wrap things up. It really is not about us...
We left at 18:40.
16:40 - 17:00
Beit Furik Checkpoint
Observers: Judit B. and Tal H.
Very few vehicles arriving in both directions. Having spoken with local residents lately, we learned that the reason for the thinning traffic is that people simply are no longer issued permits - their licenses are not renewed.
Very few pedestrians present during our visit.