'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 10.11.08, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
As usual in the last few months, there's almost no vehicle traffic into or out of Nablus because of a drastic reduction in the number of permits, in Huwwara as well as Za'tara (and also Beit Iba). This harms, first of all, the dying economy, as well, of course, different aspects of the quality of life (health, education, etc.). It isn't due to security considerations, because any vehicle can enter Nablus without permission if it makes a big detour through Ein Bidan and checkpoint 408.
4 vehicles are detained because they lacked the right permits. One went through - but not one belonging to the Red Cross and one with journalists.
Signs inciting against Machsom Watch that were put up by Women in Blue and White are displayed on military buildings at the Beit Furik and Awarta checkpoints.
The entrance to Marda is open. To Zeita - closed.
Today, in addition to the concrete cubes, there's a yellow metal gate.
The entrance to Beita - open.
Za'tara junction -When we first went by there were 5-6 cars in each direction. When we returned at 10:40 there were 11 cars on line coming from Nablus.
Beit Furik - 7:30-7:55
When we arrived there were 23 cars on line from Beit Furik. The drivers say that they have to wait half an hour. The soldiers can't even see how many cars are on line, because they're in the parking lot on the Madison route. On this road, open only to Israelis (in other words, to settlers and soldiers), cars fly by speeding madly, so it's forbidden, as well as dangerous, for cars to wait there.
There weren't many people on foot today, and they went through quickly.
When Nati approached the soldiers' position to say good morning, the sergeant called her attention to the sign posted by Women in Blue and White, the one on which terror organizations thank Machsom Watch for its help. When we asked why he allows political signs to be hung on a military installation he suddenly acted as if he didn't understand, he didn't read the sign, he doesn't know who put it up, but he won't let us remove it. We wanted to photograph it, and he got mad, took out a camera took a picture of me photographing, and I - he photographing me. But what's more important - he stopped the inspections ("time for a break"). We left so lines would start forming.
Two trucks on line in each direction. This is the main checkpoint for trucks entering and leaving a city of 150,000 people. That's the outcome of the policy that only vehicles with a special permit may enter Nablus, and of issuing few permits.
When we arrived the commander asked who we were. When we identified ourselves he immediately ordered us away. That's apparently the order that's been given to all the checkpoints in the area, since we also met with it at Beit Furik.
The poster inciting against us hung here also inside the soldiers' post. In other words, the right-wing women were permitted to enter the position.
The owner of the improvised kiosk says that there are only about 20 back-to-back trucks a day (transferring goods from an Israeli or Palestinian truck without an entry permit, to a truck from Nablus). This checkpoint, with it's giant parking lot, was built for that purpose.
Huwwara - 8:05-10:35
Two lanes for people leaving Nablus. 10 minute wait.
Almost no cars entering or leaving - the usual sight, because of the policy of limiting entry permits for vehicles.
8:15 A large car belonging to St. John's hospital in Jerusalem isn't permitted to enter (they have no permit). It turns out that the car is carrying special ophthamological equipment and a number of doctors. They come to Nablus once a month. They were told to wait off to the side. We called the humanitarian center and Dalya Bassa, apparently the DCO representative was also on the case, and after five minutes they were allowed in.
A young man was suspected by a soldier of pretending to be handicapped in order to go through the humanitarian lane. It didn't help when he removed his shoes to display his foot. The soldier, who has no orthopedic expertise, has to decide whether or not the foot looks healthy. The soldier decided he was pretending and led him roughly over to the isolation pen. A few minutes later we heard grunts from the isolation pen. The man said that he'd vomited, and held the vomit in his hand. The ones who could see it were the female MP and the soldier providing security for her. The soldier looked, saw the situation, and then turned as if nothing had occurred. Fortunately for the guy, the MP ordered the soldier to call an officer. He ordered to take him and wash his hand. The sergeant brought him over to the "humanitarian station," where there's a water faucet. We didn't see him after that. He wasn't returned to the isolation pen. I assume they'll release him.
9:05 A bus from Nablus. All the passengers - mostly women - get off the bus. The bus continues on its way seven minutes later.
One of the soldiers at the vehicle checkpoint sets his rifle on a tripod on top of a concrete barrier and aims it at the crowded taxi area. When I say something to him he aims it at me, fooling around out of boredom.
9:45 A man comes over to us saying that he worked for someone in Kfar Qassem, doing renovations, and when he went to get paid he was beaten and chased away without his money. We referred him to Kav LaOved (the workers' hotline).
A vehicle carrying three women from the Red Cross is turned back because the vehicle had no entry permit. Since a concrete wall and a fence separate us from the vehicles we can't try to help, because until we get around the area and reach them they're already making a u-turn and leaving because they're not allowed to wait around.
10:15 Another vehicle whose papers aren't in order (a number of soldiers consult with each other) - sent back from whence he came.
10:20 A vehicle labeled "Press" - also isn't allowed to enter Nablus.
Two youths, who say they're the sons of "the mukhtar of Ramallah" ask the DCO representative to help their brother whose waiting on line get through faster. The DCO representative, A. agrees. He's just a nice guy, and we've already seen him in the past try to help if he could.
Women who went through the humanitarian lane have been standing near us, waiting for the men with whom they came, until they come through their own line. Sometimes with little children or infants in their arms. Often they have to wait half an hour or even an hour. A woman with a girl who's about three years old, carrying a baby. The baby looks faint. She says she's returning from the doctor. The baby is anemic. The woman asks for alms. We give. The baby's in the hot sun all the time. The distance between the taxis on the two sides of the checkpoint - a few hundred yards. Later she returns and asks for some water for the baby, who still hasn't opened his eyes.
Talking to the soldiers, we were astonished to hear they think we hate them. How did they get such an idea?