Beit Iba, Mon 15.12.08, Morning
8:30 Taxi drivers at
Mahmud’s kiosk complain to us about the long lines in Qalqilya, and
ask us to spend more time there. We gave them the phone number
of the humanitarian office, that’s supposed to help the Palestinians,
and suggested they do what we do – call. One of them happily
adopted the idea.
No vehicle inspections at the
entrance to Nablus. Drivers not aware of this wait at the checkpoint
until one of the soldiers notices and waves them through.
There are inspections at the
exit from Nablus, but people go through quickly. Cars without
permits apparently don’t come here, but go through one of the other
checkpoints without being inspected. A dog handler randomly inspects
cars leaving Nablus. The many people entering on foot aren’t
checked at all. Those leaving go through the beeping magnemometer,
as usual. There’s also a humanitarian lane. A 10-year-old
boy, all dressed up, arrives alone, very organized – holding a photocopy
of his birth certificate. He looks apprehensively, but defiantly,
at the soldiers, and without a word holds out the document and waits
for permission to go through. Osnat wonders aloud at the effect
the checkpoint has on the boy, and A., the checkpoint commander, even
agrees with her.
A very small, old lady, who
walks with extreme difficulty, arrives, and I wonder about the long
distance she must traverse from one end of the checkpoint to the other,
and go over to help her…
Suddenly the artificial calm
is broken. Rifle bullets are found in a thin youth’s satchel,
he’s caught inside the turnstile, surrounded by all the soldiers from
the checkpoint, their guns drawn and cocked, he’s searched, stands
barefoot in undershirt and pants, he looks very frightened.
The Palestinians, of course,
were made to leave the checkpoint, and it was shut down. For some
reason, we were the only ones remaining at the checkpoint to observe
the bizarre event, and only after the youth was handcuffed and blindfolded
with a strip of flannel used for cleaning guns they suddenly remembered
us, and sent us to wait with the Palestinians. The youth was put
in the pen to wait for the GSS to come get him.
After about 20 minutes the
checkpoint began operating as before. Cars and people on foot enter
without being checked, cars leaving are inspected, people going through
the “humanitarian” lane are not checked, and young men on foot are
Why did the youth go through
this checkpoint carrying 50 IDF-issue rifle bullets? Did he want
to sell them, like A. thinks, did someone want to test or prove something?
Your guesses are as good as ours.
9:55 We leave Beit Iba,
with the commander promising he’ll return the youth’s clothes –
the weather is cold.