Beit Iba, Thu 6.11.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Smadar H., Amos M.(guest), Deb L. (reporting)
06/11/2008
|
Afternoon

 

Once again
we saw how inconsistent the rules regarding the checkpoints are. They are
subject to the day, the hour, the commander in charge, and things we can not
see. Today we saw this difference in where we could stand, the management of
the humanitarian line, and in the checking procedure of the vehicles.

Two weeks
ago we could stand anywhere we wanted—near the checking booths, near the
vehicle checking, on the side of the road. Since then a new group of soldiers
came to man this check point. Today the commanding officer told me I could not
stand on the south side of the vehicle lane. Then he told me I could not stand
at the west side of the checkpoint which is where Palestinians first enter the
CP to Nablus or leave the CP from Nablus. He wanted me to stand
in one place and that was right near the pedestrian checking booths where
Smadar and Amos were standing.

  About 40 minutes later he told all 3 of us to leave the CP and stand at
least 50 meters
away(which was where I was standing before).
We tried to object but
did not want to make an issue out of it. He said he would only let us come
closer if he was able to get permission. That permission never came. We stood
in a place where we could see the humanitarian line and both lines of traffic
very well. However, from that point on we could not see what was happening on
the young men's line.

Another
big difference today was in the handling of the humanitarian line. Two weeks
ago if the line got too long and/or for other reasons the commanding officer
would allow the women to pass freely and would only check the men. Today
everyone had to wait including people with young children until IDs were
checked. This was true even when the line had 60 or more people on it. During the entire shift the humanitarian line was long
and the wait was from 11 to 17 minutes long.
(3:00PM – 3:11PM,
4:06PM – 4:23PM)

The third
and most dramatic change from 2 weeks ago was the time it took to check the
regular vehicle line (not the humanitarian one).  Then buses were checked
within a minute and the line was never long. Today each bus took from 8 to 10
minutes just to be checked. (3:06PM – 3:16PM, 3:21PM – 3:29PM, 3:29PM – 3:37PM,
3:43PM – 3:52PM, 4:48 – 4:58PM.) The wait on
line for a non-humanitarian vehicle from Nablus
was more then an hour and 15 minutes.
(At 3:00PM there were more
then 12 vehicles on line from Nablus--
we couldn't see beyond the 12th—and it was 4:15PM when that 12th
vehicle passed through the line.) There was even a period of 8 minutes (3:52PM
to 4:00PM ) when the regular line of vehicle traffic was not checked at all and
buses, trucks, mini buses and some private cars just stood still.

We
complained to the Army Humanitarian Hot line several times about the length of
the humanitarian line for pedestrians and the regular vehicle line. We were
told they would tell the DCO of Nablus. However,
nothing changed while we were there and there wasn't a DCO representative at
the CP.

There were
no detaineesinfo-icon when we arrived and none until the time we were moved away from
the CP at 3:40PM. From that time on we couldn't see the detainee area. In
general the young men's line (it is usually from this line that detainees are
taken) was short. Perhaps 60 young men divided into 2 lines. Two checks that I
did (3:16PM and again at  3:23PM) showed that from 4 to 5 young men were
checked per minute. It was the usual removing of belts, cell phones, checking
of bags and IDs.

Several
men from Qusin approached us. They have permits to work in Israel. They
complained that the line is long at the Efraim CP ( the CP for people with
permits to work in Israel
that is near Taibe) and in order to get to work at 8PM  in Natanya they
must leave Kucheen at 4:30PM. (Natanya is about a half hour to 40 minutes away
without checkpoints.)

The owner
of a truck who had a permit to enter Nablus
with his vehicle until a few months ago approached us as we were leaving the CP
at 5:00PM. He told us the following story:

Several months ago he went to the DCO office to check something. While
he was waiting on line an officer entered the room and said that everyone in
the room at that moment was to come forward with their IDs. The IDs were
collected. This officer was from the secret service and spoke to this man
saying they wanted him to work for the secret service. He refused. From that
time on the permit for his truck was taken away and every time he passes a CP
by foot he is held up because his ID number is on the wanted list. He then must
wait until his name is cleared. This man has no police record and no record of
political activity. He supports 4 families with his truck.

Each time we hear a story similar to this we are shocked--shocked that a random
event like entering an office at the wrong time can change your fate, and
shocked that this is the way things work here in the territories. Is this whole network of checkpoints which entails
requirements for permits and long waits used as an instrument that will create
enough problems and pressures that people will be forced to work as informers
in order to earn a living?