Beit Iba, Jit, Thu 23.10.08, Afternoon
afternoon is when the students who study at the university in Nablus
return home to their families. The normal situation would be that the
students would return each evening to their homes which are not that
far away. However, since the checkpoints have become a part of the
Palestinians' every day reality, the students have found that they can
not always be assured that they will arrive on time for classes and for
exams if they have to pass through the checkpoints. Therefore, those
who can afford it have found a way to stay in Nablus over night until
the end of the week.
during our shift, there were from 60 to 100 young men waiting on 2
lines leaving Nablus. Two to three young men passed through the
checking booths a minute. The wait on line was from 20 to 40 minutes.
humanitarian line often had as many as 60 pedestrians on line. The
checking of those on the humanitarian line was inconsistent. When each
person's bag and ID was checked (both the men and the women) the wait
was 15 minutes. When the women were let through rather freely and only
the men checked, the wait was 8 minutes. The commanding officer
says it is up to him to decide when to let a lot of people through at
once and when to demand that each person be checked.
who had a number of small children with them or a stroller or big
packages or felt they were special cases would go to the lane south of
the humanitarian line and speak directly to the soldier. Sometimes the
soldier would let them pass through and sometimes not. There was a
young man who claimed he was a soccer player and was going to be late
for the game which was starting in 10 minutes in Qalqilyia. The soldier
checking asked the commanding officer to make the decision. The
commanding officer let him through. He told me that he plays soccer and
knows the feeling of being late for a game.
was a young man with a hump back who waited on the humanitarian line
and claimed that since he has back pains it is hard for him to stand on
the regular line. He was sent back to the regular lane. A
young, very well dressed man in a long sleeved shirt, tie and dress
trousers said he has a right to be on the humanitarian line since he is
a policeman for the Palestinian Authority. The commanding officer sent him back to the regular line.
The vehicle line was the big surprise for me. The last time I was in Beit Iba was a
month ago so some policy might have changed since then. In the past
when I've been at the Beit Iba CP the vehicle lines were problematic.
The wait was sometimes an hour or more especially when leaving Nablus.
The checking of buses and minibuses leaving Nablus would sometimes take
as long as 12 minutes once they got to the checking booth . If there
was a long line, the wait was forever. Today even buses took no more
then a minute to check at the checking booth. Both the line to Nablus
and the line from Nablus moved quickly. No more then 4 or 5 vehicles
accumulated on line and the last in line waited maybe 6 minutes.
There were no detainees while we were there.
Pedestrians entering Nablus were not checked.
Israeli vehicles (Israeli Arabs) were told to follow an army jeep down
to the checkpoint from the direction of Qusin. They had been caught
trying to get into Nablus by way of a road in which non-army traffic is
forbidden. They had been refused entrance to Nablus from the Beit Iba
checkpoint and were trying to find another way in. After speaking to
the soldiers in the jeep, the commanding officer sent the two cars
home. They were not detained at the Beit Iba CP.
4:29 a donkey wagon coming from Nablus was loaded with new sofas
individually wrapped in paper and plastic. The commanding officer did
not allow it to pass through. A few minutes later when we decided to leave I went to ask the commanding officer why the sofas were not allowed in. At
the same time two women from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program
approached the commanding officer. It seems they had been observing the
checkpoint from the Nablus side and had seen that the donkey cart had
returned from the CP with the sofas still on the cart. They, too,
wanted to know why the sofas were not allowed through. The commanding
officer said it was a security issue. The 2 women explained that if the
sofas were not allowed to enter via the donkey wagons a truck would
have to take them to a different checkpoint that was designated for
merchandise and it would take so much more time and would be so much
more difficult. The officer agreed to let the sofas through on the
donkey wagon and one of the women ran back to tell the driver.
At this point we left and when I called one of the Ecumenical women
later to see what had happened she told me that 3 donkey wagons filled
with sofas did go through. The officer asked that each sofa be taken
off the wagon and he tried to look through the paper to see if he could
see any thing suspicious. It is amazing how these small gestures of
generosity become so important in this place of suffering.
Jit CP was not manned when we passed by there at 6:00PM.
junction between Jit and the village of Funduk that leads to the
villages of Fratah and Ematin. The CP was on Route 55 at this
intersection and was checking the traffic going north. We were heading
south and were nearly driven off the road by settlers coming in the
other direction who were trying to by-pass the CP.