Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 21.8.08, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
6:42 - Shomron crossing,
Checkpoint at the entrance to the occupied territories. No detainees at the checkpoint.
The exit to Route 446 is still blocked even though Palestinians have been allowed to travel on the road (from Deir Balut to Route 5) since about January, 2008. The road from the village, past the Ariel industrial zone, is open.
Marda - The western gate is open, the main exit is open.
Jama'in-Zeita - The entry from Route 505 is still blocked by concrete cubes.
7:05 - Za'tara junction -
5 cars on line from the west, and three taxis and one car detained for a document check; according to the passengers they've already waited 15 minutes. The ID's are returned as I go over to them, and as long as we were there no other cars were stopped for a check that lasted a long time. The checkpoint is manned by reservists.
7:20 - The southern entrance to Huwwara. A border police jeep stops taxis and checks them. The drivers's IDs and the taxis' contents are examined. Each taxi is detained for at least 10 minutes (4 km.away from the Huwwara checkpoint), and about 3 km before the Za'tara checkpoint, where they'll be checked again.
7:35 Now a minibus and 4 taxi vans are detained. The minibus contains only women and children on a trip to Ramallah (detained 15 minutes), and one of the vans has doctors on their way to work in Salfit. The soldiers don't have any lists, and they're checking ID's using their radios. When traffic at the checkpoint is heavy enough for them, they let the taxis through without stopping them. When the examination is over, the soldier calls the driver on the PA system to come get the passengers' IDs. We call the humanitarian office a number of times to complain that soldiers are using their authority to harass the passengers for no security purpose. A border policeman pulls over a taxi that was passing another car dangerously, and an accident is barely averted. The soldiers' ID badges are hidden; the number of the jeep is 611090.
8:10 An army jeep arrives and we hurry away, after leaving our phone number with a storekeeper across the way, and asking him to let us know when the temporary checkpoint has been removed. And, in fact, a few minutes after we get to Huwwara he calls and tells us that the border police soldiers left.
8:15 - Huwwara checkpoint. Almost no pedestrians, there's an x-ray vehicle for baggage, no detainees.
8:30 - Beit Furik checkpoint.
The checkpoint is almost empty (we arrived after rush hour). A Hummer stands opposite the parking area (apparently to prevent Palestinians from driving on the Madison route).
A religious man, accompanied by three veiled women, takes their ID cards and gives them to the soldier. The soldier doesn't attempt to identify the women beneath their veils. A new, shiny pickup truck with two Palestinian police officers passes through to Nablus. The soldier demands that the person sitting next to the driver pass through the pedestrian lane, but is apparently convinced to retract his demand and allows him through without being checked.
9:05 - We leave.
9:10 - The Nablus DCO office.
The road was recently repaved, after it had become virtually impassable. A few taxi drivers waiting outside. The line indicating where to wait is about 30 meters away from the entrance gate, there's a shed but a taxi is parked under it. The taxi drivers show us a list that those waiting have drawn up. There are 120 names on the list (and it's only morning). According to the soldier in the tower, who from time to time admits groups of five (but stops when he sees there are no people waiting), they moved the waiting area back from the entrance because otherwise people start arguing among themselves (it apparently doesn't occur to the DCO staff to improve the service they provide). We ask to enter, but are refused.
9:30 - Huwwara checkpoint.
About 20 women on the line off to the side. The men's lane is empty. No cars waiting to enter Nablus (A sight that's even more depressing than a long line).
Za'tara checkpoint - No line in any direction.
10:00 - The tent on Route 5 for catching workers without permits is manned.