Beit Furik, Huwwara, Sun 2.11.08, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
15:15 Tapuach/Zatara Junction Checkpoint - nearly empty of vehicles.
15:30 Huwwara Checkpoint
X-Ray truck: after moving away to enable a steam-roller to flatten the terrain for the prospective 5-lane road (according to the soldiers) that will be available for vehicles (whose??) entering and exiting Nablus, the X-ray truck is back in position, placed perfectly so that objects falling out of it after being inspected land directly in a muddy, filthy puddle. Not a sea, not a lake. A clearly limited puddle. But who sees, who cares? Certainly not those who position the white army X-Ray truck. So we stood and took snapshots of it, and the checkpoint commander - in a single act of unilateral communication - stood and took snapshots of us. Palestinian women in their long dresses inevitably brushed the mire with their hems as they hurried to gather their belongings, filthied as they did not fall squarely onto the table placed there by the porter.
Otherwise, all the usual: 3 active checking posts, DCO rep. Tomer, Commander - junior officer Yaniv.
In the concrete cubicle for detainees: a Palestinian policeman detained because his number keeps coming up in the wanted list and no one can help him solve this bureaucratic blunder.
16:00 Sniffer dog and trainer join the vehicle inspections.
16:15 Only one active checking post. A loud protest emerges from the waiting lines. As usual, right away, the commander catches the occasional "troublemaker" by the collar and back and more or less throws him bodily into the hold to learn a lesson.
16:30 Three checking posts are active again. Men wait in long queues reaching all the way out of the shed. Over an hour average waiting time.
16:45 Bingo!!! Cries of joy and encouragement of the Military Policewomen. The new detainee joins his peer in the hold. Order is drilled into the waiting lines. More detentions, lines are held waiting while threats and jokes fill the cold air.
A group of 15 internationals stands in the exiting vehicle checking post, conducting some kind of negotiation with the soldiers. Sent to the X-Ray Truck.
16:52 Another detainee to the hold. As usual, an 'educational' punitive measure by the soldiers.
A soldier securing the checking posts returns from his evening prayers, stands close to us with his pointed rifle, sputtering comments and instructions to all and sundry in broken Arabic. 2-3 more bingos to the hold.
Most of the time there are about 10 cars waiting to be let into Nablus.
17:05 A fight in the lines yields another detainee. Every few minutes the checking halts for the sake of ordering the lines and quieting them down. Waiting time stretches out now to an hour and a half -two hours.
A reserve tire of a vehicle is sent to be x-rayed.
We are informed that at Awarta Checkpoint there was an attempted stabbing of a soldier earlier. Perhaps this is the reason for today's harassments, detentions and slow vehicle inspections?
The Military Policewomen pearls of wisdom: "You're bleeping. Strip!" ; "Why are you limping? Were you shot?"; as a 'bingo' is caught, the soldier merits "a weekend off!"
Among the detainees, a Palestinian man who was released from prison 10 days ago and this is his first time at the checkpoint.
After 18:00, there are still 3 detainees inside, ID numbers are screeched loudly, a chilly wind blows, and we return to our parallel universe.
Beit Furik Checkpoint 17:50 - 18:50
Observers: Noa P., Tal H. reporting
A line of trucks waiting to enter Nablus, as usual placed far from the checkpoint entrance, at the exit from the taxi park across the apartheid road. A very long line of cars waiting to exit Nablus, between an hour and two!
Pedestrians by the hundreds wishing to exit Nablus and go home to Beit Furik and Beit Dejan villages crowd in the cold, holding babies, toddlers, among them many women, elderly people and simply men at the end of a day's work or shopping or any other business in town.
As we arrive, the large group of soldiers we see are busy mainly chatting with each other leisurely.
We call the army hotline.
Four trucks have had enough of waiting idly beyond the junction and they dare approach the checkpoint in protest. The commander and other soldiers rush over and yell at them "Get back!!" "I'll not let anyone in until you get back!!!"
But this 'mini-demonstration' helped. The driver who we'd watched waiting hopelessly is finally summoned to be checked, and after him one by one follow the trucks.
The pedestrians are still trickling out and address us angrily/desperately/ sadly/wondering as they exit, why we don't do anything about this. They can hardly believe the soldiers won't listen to us... They ask, why if things are quiet and there are no more suicide bombers they are still being treated like animals (verbatim!).
Our call to the senior DCO officer probably helped: from 17:40 two checking posts are active and people begin to stream out.
On our way back to the parallel universe inside Israel, we crossed the Shaar Shomron Checkpoint as usual, the one and only checkpoint in the whole region that somehow merits the description of "border crossing, if there were indeed a border". Meaning crossing from the 'dangerous, checkpointed lands of the Occupation' into the home territory which must be secured at any cost in any way. Not a gaze in our direction, or into the car which could have delivered anyone and anything into the heart of the homeland. Just so we get the picture of this security business.