Beit Iba, Thu 11.9.08, Afternoon
Beit Iba ThursPM 11/09/08 3PM – 4PM
It is Ramah Dan today. We arrived at Beit Iba at 3PM. The Palestinians have returned to regular time although Israel is still on Daylight Savings Time. Their clock is one hour earlier. The fast for today is over at 7PM Israeli time.
There are about 100 young men on line from Nablus divided into 2 lines. While we were there it took a young man 22 minutes to pass through (3:25PM – 3:47). From 3:36 until 3:44PM 60 young men passed through. Our impression was that the buzzers were less sensitive or the Palestinians have learned ahead of time to remove all possible items that might set the metal detector off.
There is a side line for women, older men and special cases. Most of the time women are let through with out being checked today and the men are randomly checked. A number of younger men who tried to go through the side line were turned back when it was discovered they were too young to be on the side line.
People coming into Nablus are not being checked today. The Commanding Officer says it is part of an easing up on the part of the army in consideration of the holiday of Ramah Dan. An additional consideration is that Israeli Arabs are allowed to come into Nablus by car without a permit for their vehicle. However, says the Commanding Officer, they can only return from Nablus by way of Beit Iba with a permit. If they don't have a permit they must go through checkpoint 408 or the checkpoint at Shevah Shimron. I'm not sure about 408 but Shevah Shimron is closed after 6PM. And either of those choices makes the ride home longer.
The vehicle line from Nablus was long and the checking was slow. A bus that was 10th on line when we got there at 3PM (there were vehicles beyond the 10th but it was hard to make them out) got to the checking booth at 3:40PM. Checking the bus at the booth took another 12 minutes. A total of 52 minutes from the time we saw the bus meaning it had already been waiting before we got there. The checking of another bus we saw at 3:10PM took 10 minutes to check. Mini buses also took a long time at the checking booth where as private cars and some trucks only took about a minute.
The vehicle line to Nablus was short the whole time we were there. When there were vehicles on line, the checking took about a minute a vehicle.
The donkey carts and hand pushed wagons with luggage were check, sort of. Some of the luggage was opened but one can hardly say it was a thorough safety check.
The feeling once again being that the random checking, or checking that often left holes was less a safety issue then one used to show where the power lies.
We left Beit Iba at 4PM because Dafna (another MW woman) called us and asked that we head for Awarta. Eight people who had bee detained at that checkpoint at 9AM were still being held. (See details in report Hawarre/Awarta 11/9/08.)