Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 24.9.08, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Zeita: Closed as usual
7:10 Tapuach-Za'tara junction:
Empty from the west. 5 cars from the north (Nablus). We didn't stop.
7:20 Beit Furik
Light to normal traffic when we arrived. A bus carrying many women coming from Nablus. It's inspected for 5 minutes, and allowed to pass.
We notice four Palestinians waiting east of the checkpoint, next to an electric pole. They first explained to us in Arabic that they're from Jenin, and this morning they're not being allowed to return, because they're from Jenin. Later it turned out that one of them speaks Hebrew, and he explained that yesterday, the 23rd of the month, they were allowed, because of Ramadan, to visit relatives in Beit Furik, and it was clear to them that they could return the same way, but the soldiers on duty this morning ignored the Ramadan arrangements, or maybe they didn't know about them. The soldiers took their ID's, and the commander told them that the matter was being checked. It should be noted that they arrived at the checkpoint at 7:00.
Seeing our "negotiations" with the Palestinians, the checkpoint commander came over, returned the ID's, but demanded categorically that they wait in the parking lot (How will they catch his eye? How will he notify them?), and ordered us not to speak to them. We tried talking to him, but didn't seem to be getting close to a solution (that seems so simple). We went up to the parking lot and called the humanitarian center and to the DCO as intensively as possible. Meanwhile, two of the four took a taxi back to Beit Furik and disappeared. An elderly farmer and his elderly wife from a village near Jenin remained, who had come in honor of the holiday to meet the family of his daughter-in-law. Their two sons (one of them the intended groom), it turned out, who worked for a while in the Beit Furik area, and whose ID's had the right address for our purposes, passed through easily a while ago, and their explanations about their parents didn't help. We submitted the information about their ID's and - wonder of wonders! - very quickly the checkpoint commander, together with us, received an unequivocal reply that they must be permitted to go through in order to return home, and why did they even try to prevent them from doing so!!.
8:20 We returned to the checkpoint and followed the couple until they passed through in the direction of Nablus, this time quickly. The business cost them 1 hour and 20 minutes out of their lives, for no reason.
Two lanes open, as well as the humanitarian lane. A fairly large number of people going through, considering the hour of the morning. The x-ray machine is operating.
Light vehicle traffic, only a few cars from the north.
The arrangements inside the checkpoint have changed since the incident with the acid. People must stand 1-2 meters from the first turnstile, as well as from the opening to the humanitarian lane, and may come closer only when signaled to do so by the soldiers doing the checking. The inspection is very rigorous. Women are sent over to the x-ray machine even if they have only a small handbag, even if they're carrying a baby in their arms.
The female MP's speak very rudely to the Palestinians, impatiently, particularly the one in the booth on the left, to the west. The inspections are not continuous because of the changed arrangements, and the Palestinians are afraid of making a false move. We called over the checkpoint commander, 2nd Lt. A., as well as the DCO representative, and called their attention to the rude and humiliating (even if unintentional) behavior, and that things are tense in any case. The commander spoke to the MP, and from that moment until the end of our shift the checkpoint was relatively quiet.
9:55 There were no unusual incidents during the remainder of our shift. On our way back from the checkpoint we saw a Border Patrol (?) vehicle driving in front of us, finally stopping at the entrance to Beita, as they have been observed doing in the past.
Tapuach - Za'tara: No line of cars.