Beit Furik, Huwwara, Sha`ar Shomron (Qasem), Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 20.11.08, Afternoon
13.45 Sha'ar Shomron. 4 trucks at the exit.
Marda is open.
Zeita. It seems that the gate is open but the mounds of earth are blocking the way as usual.
14.00 Za'tara (Tapuach) . No cars waiting and the passage is swift.
14.15 At Huwwara
There is one detainee in isolation. He does not seem very bothered and said he had tried to pass on the side and knew that he had to wait three hours to be freed. He tried to ask the soldiers to let him out to buy food and water but they took no notice.
3 cars at the entrance. None at the exit.
The shed is full. 3 turnstiles working at a reasonable rate and a wait of about 20 minutes. The humanitarian line is not under pressure. People coming out put on their belts and wait in the shed without the soldiers interfering.
14.40 3 cars at the entrance to Nablus and 5 at the exit. At one stage only 2 turnstiles were working but after 5 minutes the third was manned again.
15.20 The detainee still in the isolation.
15.30 Beit Furik.
No cars at the entrance, 6 cars including a bus at the exit. The checking is on one lane and the cars wanting to enter wait until it is open.
Now and again pedestrians arrive and wait a few minutes. Only the left turnstile is working but many try the right first and get stuck. Fatchia asks the commander Y. who comes to push us back to mark the turnstile which is not working but he thinks this unnecessary. (In the end he puts up a handwritten note). In the shed a number of people wait to exit and this is very slow.
15.40 One of the men comes to ask us to help a group of women and children who want to exit Beit Furik to go to a "chinah" before a weeding and after a few minutes we see a large group of women and children in holiday attire getting out of two small buses and waiting outside the shed. Fatchia turns to Z. who promises to help. The commander, another soldiers and a military policewoman are wandering here and there. The commander speaks for a long time on the phone with the military policewoman following him.
16.05 The women are sent to the shed then sent out, get on to the buses and with crys of joy leave Beit Furik. In the meantime the shed is full of pedestrians wanting to exit. The pressure is great but the checking is very slow and people hardly come out. The military policewoman leave the checking area every now and again. To reduce the pressure the commander takes some of the older men out of the line and checks them. They arrive very angry because they say told that the women and children should be dealt with as they are being crushed in the shed but he takes no notice of them. But a few minutes later he stops the humanitarian line. Into the cement cell surrounded by barbed wire two young men are pushed in. One of them has his leg in a cast and tried to come through with the older men. Everyone who comes out turns all their anger on us. We spoke to the commander who said that the problem was not caused by him (and that there were not enough people to man the posts) but by the military police.
16.15 We phoned Z. to inform about the situation which was getting worse and worse. Also those waiting to enter had to wait a long time. A woman with a child in her arms had to wait 15 minutes next to the turnstile. Shouts of anger were heard but this did not speed up the passage. The captain and another soldier were wandering around the area. Cars also were checked very slowly. Another man is thrown into the "hole." One of those coming out said that in the morning there had also been delays at the entrance and students had come late to their studies.
16.30 The pressure in the shed is getting worse. People wait almost an hour. Another telephone to Z. Only one checking booth is open. He promises to send someone. An army jeep shortly arrive and soldiers get out, speak to one another and go off again. In the meantime there are already 5 detainees. A woman turns to us in English while she tries to wipe her tears behind her glasses. Her son had only asked one of the soldiers to make things easier for her and the soldier had caught him by the neck and thrown him into the 'hole". I know those tears which come of their own accord because of these heartless expressions of the "strong." From the sounds in the background and from what those coming out tell us there is a feeling that there will be an explosion. We again phone Z. and the woman who came to us speaks to him and he says he will deal with it.
16.45 Reinforcements arrive. Two get out of a car and speak to the captain who again is speaking lengthily on the phone. It is getting dark and hard to see what is happening but things do speed up. The woman is still waiting for her son to be freed and also for her 15 year old daughter who has not yet come out.
17.00 We leave. On the way there are no more lines or delays.