'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 3.11.08, Morning
Beth Furik, almost no checking
Shepherd retained - in the field - for questioning.
Visit of "the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Security"at Huwwara.
Screaming session of "Blue and White"women.
7.15 Marda: open at both gates.
Zeita: "permanently" closed: not by the metal barrier-gate that was placed a few years ago and could be opened or closed, but with the well known big concrete blocks.
7.20 Za'tara (Tapu'ah): about 20 cars coming from Nablus. Two checking-lanes are working.
7.35 Beit Furik:
Only two soldiers, - outside the booth -, hardly looking at the ID's of the pedestrians entering and leaving Nablus, Also cars, entering, pass - after passengers leave the car for a check at the pedestrian-lane - and a quick look at the driver's ID. No traffic coming from Nablus.
7.45 We see an army-jeep racing about half a km. eastwards through the fields towards a shepherd. With our binoculars we can see them gesturing. After a few minutes the jeep comes racing back and eventually comes after us, while we were on our way walking on the "Madison Road" towards them.
A friendly and really polite soldier explains us:
"We received Secret-Service-info, specifically about shepherds spying in this area. They know they should not pass the earthen ramp and wall. We are waiting for the DCO because we cannot speak with him and he does not understand us."
In the mean time the shepherd walks direction checkpoint and waits with his flock at about 300m from there.
We wonder what there is "to spy on" in this completely empty area except the racing settlers (almost running us over!) on their way to Alon Moreh. The DCO takes too long for us to arrive, and, hoping he will not be arrested we leave.
8.15 Awarta, where there are about 10 cars waiting to be checked. A truck from a mayor-candidate from Tira (according to the info from our chauffeur) unloads "back-to-back" used office materials and furniture on a truck from Nablus.
X-ray-truck active and so is the girl-soldier-trainer with her dog, checking several cars coming from Nablus. Looking through binoculars - a great help, now that we have to stand só far from the "proceedings"- one can see that even those, being friendly with dogs, would háte to have a dog going over their car the way it does!!
Several cars trying to enter Nablus are not allowed as they do not have a "permit" for the car. Even a peace-worker from the "Portland Trust",- a British NGO working for peace via economic development-, who is usually allowed to enter without any restrictions of a permit , is not let through*.
Pedestrian-checking: only one lane is open for men under 45. The so called "humanitarian" lane is open for women, children and men over 45; sometimes a younger man may pass after his ID no. is checked.
8.50- 9.30: between 15 min. till half an hour waiting for men under 45.
The humanitarian lane does not really help for couples as the women have to wait for their partners or mothers for their sons etc.
9.30 Second lane is opened, and soon there are only a few men waiting.
The DCO representative, A., here is a polite, reasonable and helpful guy; e.g.: a young man, looking really worried tells us that he cannot find his 14 year old nephew. He was probably left behind while they were standing in two different lines. He is let through after a short check and promised he can return without standing in line again. (the obvious reasonable and human approach to us, but rather amazing at the checkpost)
10.00 A group of visiting officers arrives and wanders over the whole area of the checkpoint and through the magnometers that do not stop hooting, creating even more stress and unrest than usual. Their arrival is just the first sign of more to happen, when at:
10.40 - another group of even "higher" officers (quite some "falafels"!) arrive. All this, as it appears, are preparations to be well informed of the situation and able to answer questions to the "Committee of Foreign and Security Affairs" (what has Foreign Affairs to do with Security?? Is it just to be able to do better PR to the outside world??) of the Knesset, which arrives a few minutes later.
10.45 - Only one person of this group walks independently around, really looking, while the others only listen to the briefing by one of the newly arrived officers. When we approached and listened, we realized that there was not much for us to say (apart from one sentence pointing out the absurd situation e.g. that cars that are not allowed to enter Nablus can drive to the North and enter Nablus without being checked at all): we really do not speak "the same language": no humanitarian aspect is playing any role, just "security"!
Just before the departure of this committee, after about twenty minutes, suddenly three "ladies" (?) of "Blue and White" arrive (who informed them??), probably not making a very good impression by their hysterical accusations pointing at us: "they call the soldiers Nazi's and endanger their lives!!" and a lot more to be ignored rubbish.
We leave together with the Knesset-bus, avoiding the provocations of the Blue White women, who approach the soldiers (passing the notorious "white line"!)and present them with little flags of some kind.
Our usual complaints:
- unbearable to see the either old or sick or invalid people, parents carrying babies, people carrying loads, having to do a distance of about 500 meters on foot through the checkpost as only very few cars and taxies are able to get permits to enter or leave Nablus.
- the narrow turnstiles that are almost impossible to pass for people with somewhat larger baggage.
- the lack of a suitable place where to reassemble belongings and reorganize belts etc after the check through the magnometer
- the rediculous zig-zag route pedestrians, with their luggage, have follow to reach the X-ray machine. (tourists, not familiar with the situation, were wandering to and fro until they found their way back to the spot where they could repossess their passports)
- the arbitrariness of decisions: (see: *peace-worker ); only " by the grace of God" was a lady allowed to pass, taking some kind of innocent looking, little motor with her (what happens if the soldier has a bad mood, does not want to take "responsibility", is scared, as they all probably are??)
- the cruelty and unlawful aspects of the occupation: a Palestinian, who had an accident during his work in Israel, not only has difficulty standing hours at the checkpoints, but does not see a cent from the Bituach Leumi he should be receiving.
>What is being prepared at the checkpoint? A tractor/ bulldozer is now leveling an area even higher up, after the road West of the vehicle lanes is widened and flattened.
>Who is operating and receives the benefits of the quarry west of the checkpoint?
Big lorries filled to the rim are driving there on and off.