Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 18.12.08, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
There have been many changes since our last shift here and not all for the better.
The entrance to Marda is open and to Zeita, as usual, barred by a pile of earth and stones.
From the west there are no cars. From Huwwara there is only one lane open and only three soldiers, however, there are no cars queuing and the inspection is speedy. The position above the roundabout is also staffed. Before we left we saw that queue of 8 cars had built up.
There is a Border Police jeep at the entrance to Beita.
It is the first time that the two of us have been at the roadblock in its new guise.
Near the settlers' bus stop a look-out post that was at the roadblock has been set up and it is staffed.
All the stalls have been thrown out of the car park and we can only see a barrow with coffee with children.
The entrance to Nablus is open and not staffed but the concrete blocks force the buses to manoeuvre in order to cross. There are very few cars entering.
At the exit they inspect permits, they require the passengers to alight, open the car boot and, sometimes, the dog handler inspects the vehicle. A car is parked at the side and the soldiers claim that the driver is not prepared to be inspected. When we asked him what happened he said that he is religious and so requested that the seats be covered before the dog gets in. He has cartons for this purpose. At first the commander said that with cartons on the seats the dog will be unable to inspect properly. The dog handler said that it would be alright and even offered the driver a towel as a covering. Thus the difficult security problem was solved. It should be noted that the Palestinian spoke Hebrew and there was no communication problem, all that was needed was a bit of good will.
Since this was our first visit we did not exactly understand the issue of free access. The DCO explained that anyone can enter but a permit is needed to leave. He said that there is a sign which gives an explanation in Arabic which he wrote himself. We had not seen a sign and went back to check. We indeed saw the remains of a sheet of paper stuck on one of the plastic barriers but the sign was not visible.
At the pedestrian crossing there are very few people leaving Nablus. The commander is prepared to talk to us but asks us to move away. When we stand somewhere he doesn't see as appropriate, and we say that we are unable to observe from elsewhere he points us towards the turnstiles for those entering Nablus and tells us that we can cross there to the other side in order to see what is going on. When we ask how we can get back from there he invites us to cross via the roadblock. And, indeed, that's what we did. On the other side there are two coffee stands and even a tap. On our way back through the humanitarian lane we were received quite naturally, as if we cross there every day.
Meanwhile a captain from the DCO arrived in a Border Police jeep to throw out the children and their coffee barrow. When they put it on the other side of the road soldiers come over there too and sent them away (photograph attached).
At the new roadblock which has been moved close to Madison Way there is a queue of 10 cars from Nablus. The soldier says that they do not need a permit to leave but he inspects them anyway. We did not understand what he was inspecting but there was a queue!!
It is good to see the roadblock open and sad to see the new barrier which we understand is closed at night. There are 2 soldiers but the cars cross freely.
Back to Huwwara to report to the stall holders that the women of MachsomWatch are working on the issue of the stalls.
A civilian police jeep is parked in the car park; they are inspecting documents and looking for offenders. They do not want to talk to us.
The crossing is empty from both directions.