Beit Furik, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 27.11.08, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
Changes on Route 5 at the entrance to the settlement of Ariel.
A new road segment opened (that nibbled away more olive groves belonging to the villages of Hares and Kif-al-Hares), a very large traffic circle was installed at the entrance to Ariel, a side road to Kif-al-Hares opened. We saw Palestinian cars driving on the old road between the Barkan junction (Hares) and the entrance to Ariel but we don't know whether that's a new "two-level separation" (i.e., an apartheid road). This should be checked. A sign next to the traffic circle: Ariel, Salfit. Did an entrance to Salfit open? This should be checked.
14:20 Marda: The western gate of the fence surrounding Marda is open, as is the main exit gate.
Jama'in-Zeita. The entrance from Route 505 to Jama'in-Zeita is still blocked by large concrete barriers. Taxis wait for passengers on both sides of the checkpoint.
14:25 Za'tara checkpoint. No line from the west, 12 cars from the north proceed slowly and almost never stop. The inspection is quick. We don't stop.
14:00 Huwwara checkpoint.
The parking lot is very crowded with jitneys and private cars. About 50 people on the younger men's line, 3 lanes open, average wait time 17 minutes (we measured at three separate times). No line of cars from the south; what we're able to see are 5-7 cars from the north. The x-ray machine for luggage is operating, for all people on foot with bags (young men, women, elderly, mothers or fathers laden with children - "full equality"). A young mother leaves her two young children next to the soldiers inspecting the line off to the side and goes over to the x-ray machine. Many people leaving that line pass by them until the mother returns. It takes 10 minutes to check 35 people on the line for younger men. That is, if there are 150 younger men at the checkpoint it will take 45 minutes if the inspections go on continuously without stopping.
About 70 on the line off to one side, where 125 people go through in 10 minutes - the same rate we observed later.
15:22 Two young men preferred to take a taxi through the checkpoint instead of waiting on line. Because it takes so long to inspect each car, it took them at least 20 minutes to get through the checkpoint.
An elderly man wearing a gauze mask over his mouth and nose, supported by his wife, tries to go through the vehicle lane. He stopped not far from where the soldiers on the side lane are standing, but they apparently don't notice him. The couple goes through after waiting a while (I couldn't see whether anyone checked their ID cards after all that wait).
15:25 Nine cars at the entrance to Nablus. At least two of them were refused entry.
16:00 Beit Furik checkpoint.
About 5 cars leaving Nablus for the villages. 2 entering. The soldiers alternate, letting one car from each direction through the single lane. About 20 people on foot. A steady stream of pedestrians and cars from Nablus; it takes a few minutes to go through. People wanting to go to Nablus wait a long time because the soldiers doing the inspections don't look their way, but there aren't many.
16:10 A young woman carrying an infant who's about a year old arrives, two toddlers holding on to her legs and another child about 5 or 6 years old. She goes through the passageway next to the road, gets about 2 meters from the soldiers and stops. The soldiers continue to check people leaving Nablus and ignore her, even though they must have seen her. As it is written, "They have eyes, but they see not." Regarding the heart - I'm not sure they have such an organ. After our intervention, and the usual reproaches - "What are you doing here? You're not allowed to stand here," and "She'll wait like she's supposed to," and after two more minutes of "preserving the Jewish soldier's dignity," they let her through - without any inspection, of course.
16:40 Huwwara checkpoint.
At least 150 people on foot waiting for three inspection lane for younger men and at least 70 more for the line off the to side for women and elderly men. 10 cars at the entry to Nablus. From time to time the inspections stop because the soldiers straighten out the line, including trying to stop people attempting to bypass it. The female soldier in the eastern booth does her best to work as quickly as possible, but every time her security guard jumps up to straighten out the line, the inspection stops. Because of the distance between her and the people waiting on line, she has to yell "Come on, come on," all the time. We've already written a great deal on the (lack of) value of the checkpoints in general from the point of view of security, but you have to see how that soldier is working in order really to understand what "pulling the wool over your eyes" means. She holds the famous short list in her right hand. She carries out the rest of the inspection with her left hand: checking ID cards, opening bags and packages, and rummaging through them. Moreover: budgetary savings in the Ministry of Defense seem to have been implemented first at the Huwwara checkpoint - there's no light in the inspection booth. God only knows what, exactly, she's able to see on the ID card, on the short list and in the bags she's checking. But there's order, and that's what's important. The line already extends beyond the shed, but by 17:10 it has become much shorter. Very many people are entering Nablus, some carrying bags and parcels, some with little children - all of them jamming into the narrow turnstiles (narrower than those located on the Green Line - measure them). 15 cars on line to enter Nablus.
We have to leave, even though there are still many people at the checkpoint.
17:20 A flying checkpoint on the road to Burin and Madma, about 30 meters from the Huwwara road.
18:00 20 cars from the north at Za'tara junction. Inspections are quick.