Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), יום ב' 27.10.08, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
Summary: The queue of cars from the direction of Beit Furiq to Nablus is long.
There are run-ins with the Huwwara commander and with military police because of the blue line which creates great limitations on what we can observe going on at the roadblock.
The DCO representative confirms that the youth who was caught with explosives at the roadblock intended to be caught and put in prison. He was released and sent home.
The queues are short, about 5 cars, both from the west and the north.
7:25 - 8:00 a.m.
There are 30 - 40 men in the queue, most of them young, students, although they do not carry bags or books, apparently this speeds up the inspection. Women cross without queuing and without inspections. We calculated that it took 12 minutes for men to cross.
The serious problem: the car queue. For some reason one lane is closed and only one lane is open for both directions.
The inspection of cars leaving Nablus is thorough and slow. When a car stops for inspection the driver has to alight and open the doors and the boot. The car is thoroughly checked. Then the driver's documents are checked. A driver who has been inspected, a school teacher, complains that he has been held up and he is now late for work.
Meanwhile, in the other direction, there is no inspection. From the roadblock it is not possible to see how many cars are queuing from the direction of Beit Furiq because they wait in the car park. When we left we counted 27 cars. The drivers told us that the waiting time is over an hour.
We returned to the roadblock to ask the commander to open another lane. A soldier tries to turn us away. To our surprise the commander responded to us politely and gratefully. We did not stay so we did not see if the situation improved. We called the centre and asked them to send a DCO representative.
There was a dog there, but while we were there it did not inspect any cars; this would have caused an even longer hold up for the cars. There were no confrontations or incidents with the soldiers such as had often happened lately.
8:05 - 10:00 a.m.
The chaos and shouting of the drivers in the car park heralded our arrival.
The queue of men at the exit from Nablus reaches all the way to the end of the shed. Only two checkpoints are working. We cannot measure how long people stand in the queue as we are unable to get near enough because of the blue line (more on this later). We only encounter people at the end of the inspection, where they are adjusting their clothing: putting on a belt, a jacket, etc. One of them says (Murphy's law) that his queue was particularly slow.
As usual very few cars are permitted to enter and leave Nablus. From the direction of Nablus a car is being inspected (the only one in the queue) - all the passengers are required to alight - the soldiers check the interior of the car and the boot.
At the queue to enter the soldiers inspect papers and joke with the drivers.
A soldier comes up and photographs us with his mobile phone, as has happened during the past weeks. If this is what they are doing then we decide to photograph them too.
Each time we cross the blue line the roadblock commander, with the rank of 2nd lieutenant, comes over and sends us back, even when we only cross by a centimetre. Once, when I approached the checkpoint to ask something, both the commander and a military policewoman came over to me. He said that he would call the police. When we did not appear frightened, she said she would put me in the cell, pulled out some kind of document and claimed that she has authority over me. The incident finished when we explained that she has no authority over us. Afterwards the DCO representative supported us and confirmed that we were in the right.
Buma Inbar arrived with two people. They are involved in the olive picking and he wanted to show them what the roadblock looks like.
The dog was working, we saw it board an empty bus of which left Nablus, and then he went into a taxi to inspect it.
On the other side of the road, where a new lane is being laid, there are a few tractors. Most of the time they stand idle.
From time to time a military vehicle arrives, the soldiers alight, mingle with the roadblock soldiers, and then drive on.
The x-ray machine is not working. People's baggage is inspected by military police at the same time as their documents are checked. There were no detainees.
The DCO representative T.(Tomer) talks about two incidents which were reported in the media, where two people were caught with explosives at the roadblock.
When we said that we knew that the youth who had crossed with explosives had been released, he confirmed this, and told us that the youth comes from a poor family and he wanted to be caught and sent to prison (where he would get a free education, gain prestige and his family would get financial support), therefore, he was released.
In the ‘humanitarian' queue (for women and old men) there are no inspections now.
A man on crutches on his way into Nablus requests permission to cross via the road. A soldier sends him to the ordinary crossing. When we explained that he would not be able to get through the turnstile and the soldier agreed.