Beit Iba, Tue 18.11.08, Morning
As soon as we arrived, it was clear that something was
going on. The long line of vehicles was not moving and many vehicles were
moving back and forth in place. We had a hard time finding a parking place in
all the chaos. When we left the car, Palestinians updated us that the
checkpoint had been closed for an hour already, because a youth had been caught
with explosives at the checkpoint. We went closer, but there was no passage
for cars or pedestrians except for some women who were allowed to pass. An
armored vehicle blocked the traffic in the direction of Nablus. A little time
after we had arrived, around 8:30, the checkpoint opened to traffic and
pedestrians but not before one of the officers shouted in Arabic incredibly
loudly and unnecessarily: "Go back, one by one." After the opening,
the inspection was carried out relatively quickly: women and the elderly
without any line, youths standing in line. We looked to see if it was possible
to see the youth and, indeed, there he was standing in his underwear, arms
tied, with a lot of soldiers around him.
Once again, movement was stopped for several minutes
and then started anew.
An explosives vehicle arrived to attempt to blow up
the device. The youth was taken away from the area, blindfolded, kneeling,
while the robot moved into the area and, after it, the soldier came over to
inspect the youth's clothes. He fished around in them and returned them to the
youth, who got dressed. At 9:30 they stopped the inspection once more,
everyone was moved away and a quite loud explosion was heard and a strong vibration.
It wasn't clear to us what had actually happened. The youth was brought
forward and a lot of photographer jumped to take his picture. We asked to
speak with the commander, who was polite and explained to us that yesterday the
youth had also tried to go through the checkpoint several times, but had
apparently been afraid to operate the explosive device. Today, they convinced
him and he tried again. A wick was found in his pocket and a pipe bomb. The
Palestinians who were near him all claimed that this was a toy. We, naturally,
are not experts nor can we evaluate the scale of the explosion or its nature.
In any case, it was a very unpleasant incident which, of course, justifies the
existence of the checkpoint, from the soldiers' point of view. However, it
leaves us in doubt, as usual. We waited until the checkpoint was empty and
went on our way.