Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), יום ב' 6.10.08, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
Summary: The practice is punishment by imprisonment, body searches and, apparently, handcuffing as well. Two men wanted by the Shabak whose names came up on the computer were imprisoned for three hours and, after they had been body searched, released.
A porter who smuggled a car engine was punished, and so was a young man who had pushed into the queue.
There were long queues and long waiting times when only one checkpoint was open. Only about half an hour after we arrived were additional checkpoints opened.
There is practically no traffic entering or leaving a town with over 300,000 inhabitants.
A new system of roads has been laid opposite Ariel. Oh, the money the State of Israel has available to it!!!
The entrance to Marda is open.
The entrance to Zeita is barred.
The entrance to Beita is open.
There are 8 cars queuing from the west and 8 queuing from the direction of Huwwara.
As we arrived we saw one of the soldiers taking two young men in the direction of the cell. He searched their bags. He then stood them with their legs apart and gave them a body search - just like you see in action films. The roadblock commander went over with handcuffs at the ready. Perhaps because we were watching the whole time they were saved the handcuffs. Later still it turned out that they had ‘hit the jackpot', i.e.: according to their ID numbers they were wanted by the Shabak. Now they will wait in the cell (which from the outside looks less than one metre by one metre, and later another detainee will join them in the same cell), until the Shabak gives instructions on what to do with them. In our experience they will be released after a few hours of imprisonment. And, indeed, that's what happens this time too. What is gained by this? Another means of control apparently. From time to time the roadblock commander or a sergeant goes over to them and tells them off for something - for leaning against the door, for talking to us, etc.
There are a lot of young men in the queue to leave Nablus (the women and the ‘elderly' cross quickly), and the queue stretches a long way past the hut. In our estimation it consists of some 60 - 80 people. We can't get near them. After a while a man goes by us boiling with rage: he has queued, according to him, for two hours.
An elderly woman crosses with her daughter. She asks for our help - her daughter is ill and has a permit for a hospital in Israel. Both the mother and her son have permits from the DCO to accompany the patient. Now the son is trapped in the queue and they have to wait for him. We approached one of the soldiers and he refused: "They should leave home earlier". We approached the roadblock commander again and he sent the DCO representative to get the son out of the queue.
A young man is led to the niche beside the cell. He is subjected to the ceremony of the body search. The roadblock commander comes over. The man looks fearful. They talk to him. Apparently he tried to jump the queue. Finally he is sent to the back of the queue which still stretches a long way past the shed.
Another rumpus in the queue. Once again the same young man is pulled out of the queue. The DCO representative arrives. He is left to guard the young man, i.e., detention, or in simple language - punishment by imprisonment. After a few minutes he returns to the queue.
Finally another checkpoint is opened.
A third checkpoint is opened and from then on the queue is reduced.
All the time the magnometer screeches in everyone's ears.
One man who, like many others, is forced to put on his belt at the exit, where we are standing, looks at us in embarrassment.
A woman who works at the Italian consulate and who has a meeting in Jerusalem at 10 a.m. is annoyed at being sent to the x-ray machine to check the document case she is holding. She is concerned that she will be late.
The distance from Nablus to Jerusalem, as the crow flies, is about 50km and she has another hour and a half to get there, but how many more roadblocks?
A soldier on the road pushes away a member of a medical team, we don't know why.
Dafna B., arrives. She is on her way to the olive harvest and has brought Yoav of ‘BeTzelem' with her; he needs to meet with people in the area to deliver cameras to them so that they can film anyone causing problems with the harvest.
Another detainee is sent to the cell. It is a porter who has ‘smuggled' a car engine through the roadblock. It appears that it is forbidden to take car parts through the roadblock because the x-ray machine cannot reveal what is in them. The DCO representative, Adam, says that it may be possible to take it across at Awarta because they have a dog there (there's one here too). So what happens if they need to take car parts across? We asked what will happen to the criminal. The commander says that the DCO will decide. Adam said that he will be left in the cell for three hours, and then he will be barred from working as a porter for a month. In fact the commander understood the plight of the porter who stands to lose his living.
Now only two checkpoints are open but there are not many in the queue, about 20 people. Apparently this is because of the time of day.
All this time very few cars cross in both directions. There are never more than 3 cars in the queue. This is the main entrance to a town of 150,000 inhabitants. (Earlier there were 300,000 ??) There are not more cars crossing at Beit Iba or Awarta. This is because of the continuing policy of giving very few entrance permits to cars going to Nablus.
How can a minimal economy be managed without transport? Or life?
A bus entering Nablus crosses quickly, almost without an inspection.
A taxi leaving Nablus is inspected for almost a quarter of an hour by a dog, while the driver and the passengers wait at a distance. Afterwards the driver goes and cleans the seats with a duster. A dog is unclean in Arab tradition. He taints everything he comes into contact with.
We went to the lane at the entrance to Nablus and had a shouted conversation with the detainees (who have already been there for two hours). One of the wanted men said that he has a blue I.D. card. His telephone has been taken away. The officer and the sergeant immediately come over to shut him up. We complained to the ‘humanitarian' centre.
We drove to Beit Furiq.
We returned to see what had happened to the detainees. They are still imprisoned. The detainees were released 20 minutes later.
We met Czech reporters who had come on a private visit and were filming and filming.
There is one lorry at the exit from Nablus.
There are very few cars and pedestrians at this time... at times the roadblock is empty. There are only two taxis in the car park waiting for passengers.
A car has broken down at the roadblock and cannot start its engine. The driver and his son push it 10 metres away from the roadblock. They call in a mechanic from Beit Furiq.
An ambulance leaving Nablus is inspected for over an hour.