Beit Iba, Jit, Tue 18.11.08, Afternoon
On the Tulkarm side, the entry for workers, few people. Two next to the turnstile, one of them from Jab’ara. He’s waiting for the DCO representative, tells us [from the other side of all the fences] that his permit to work in Israel was taken from him at the Jab’ara checkpoint. Now he’s waiting, for a pretty long time, for someone to open the turnstile so he can go through already! The checkpoint is almost empty at this hour, and in any case, he’s been waiting for a long time!
We take photographs. Minutes later a security guard working for Mikud shows up and asks us to leave. A moment later a Hummer carrying a few officers arrives, and they ask us politely not to step on the track kept clear to show footprints [We were right next to the fence, otherwise, how could we see anything? In any case its very hard to see anything on the other side of the thicket of fencing, to photograph or exchange a few words with people who are waiting]. Anyway, everyone we met said we should come early in the morning. It’s simply terrible in the morning, full of people jammed together, and no one makes any effort to make the line move faster.
2:15 The exit point into Israel. Vans carrying laborers who harvest the crops begin to arrive, most of them working in the Netanya area. They also tell us, as they run home, “Come in the morning, see what it’s like! It’s full – it’s full of people in the morning!:
3:00 Jub’ara checkpoint
Reserve soldiers on duty. The commander is a lieutenant.
We ask to come through the gate. To my surprise, a soldier with a key to the gate comes over [last Tuesday they firmly refused; “Watch women don’t go in!”]. The checkpoint commander suddenly inquires whether we might be from “Watch.” We said “yes.” Wait a minute, he said, you need permission. How come? I asked, since a minute ago they were going to open up, he said that villagers and UN staff go through without any problem. I commented that I don’t look like either of them. That confused him also, and nevertheless, he called to get permission, stressing that that’s the procedure. He added that this morning some of our women wanted to enter, waited for permission and left a minute before the answer arrived that permission wasn’t granted because of an exercise being conducted in the village, and it was dangerous. I asked whether the exercise wasn’t also dangerous for the villagers, he said the fewer people wandering around, the better!
After a few minutes, permission was granted and we entered. You reach the legendary “children’s gate,” a barrier. A woman is waiting there for her sister who’s in a car a few steps across the road, at what’s known as Gate 753. The sister is in an advanced state of pregnancy, married to a man from the neighboring village of Balad, the entire family – the sister, her husband, two little children and the sisters’ father are in the car, waiting for the soldiers to let the husband drive them to the sister’s house, a few minutes away, and return immediately. Nothing helps. They get out of the car, join the sister and begin walking to the village, carrying presents and food. The husband has to go back, return tomorrow to pick them up, and they’ll have to come back the same way.
We continue in the direction of Ar-Ras. At the junction, a barrier blocks both sides of the road. We keep driving, without delay, toward Tulkarm, thinking that we can connect to the main road, but no! That’s the lower road, under Road 557, the apartheid road, the one we use to go to Anabta and Beit Iba. The settlers use it to go to the settlements of Avnei Hefetz, Einav, Shavei Shomron. And the army, of course, is the main one who uses the road leading to Nablus and its myriad checkpoints.
We backtrack, waiting again for the Jub’ara gate to be opened. Few cars at the Anabta junction.
4:00 Beit Iba checkpoint
Few people, buses in both directions. Some are carrying workers home to Nablus from a workday in Qalqilya, while a bus leaving Nablus carries workers and students who live in Qalqilya, Azzun and the surrounding area. That happens daily. The young people have to get off the bus, their documents are checked, and five minutes later, the inspection over, they continue.
We met a group of students coming from Nablus who wanted to tell us what happened earlier today, in the morning, at the Beit Iba checkpoint. They went through the checkpoint toward Nablus at 7:30 AM. They said that a 13-year old boy, who wasn’t carrying any bag or package, wearing an ordinary shirt, was also waiting to go through. There were many people on both sides of the checkpoint.
“The boy wants to enter Nablus, they told him to lift up his shirt, the boy doesn’t understand Hebrew. A soldier who spoke Arabic told him, lift up your shirt, he had nothing on him, I’m telling you, I saw! About 150 people on each side of the checkpoint. Workers, students. Everyone, on both sides, was told to move back. They took the boy off to one side. And suddenly we heard an explosion!”
I asked, what do you think happened. They said, confidently, “The soldiers planted something on him and it exploded! For sure!”
5:00 Jit junction is empty.