Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 16.12.08, Afternoon
We learn of the new handling of the checkpoints at Huwwara and Beit Furik. We are shocked at the arbitrariness which has no logic. After all the years of hysterical checking and "the terrible danger" Beit Furik is now open to cars, the entrance to Nablus from Huwwara is open to cars. Drivers from Beit Furik do crazy turns in their joy, smile and wave at us with V signs.
14.00 The gates of Marda are open and Zeita is closed as usual.
14.20 Za'tara. No lines.
A bus leaving Nablus is detained in the parking lot. The IDs of the passengers are taken. Now the soldiers decide to take all the passengers off the bus and to give each his ID. The driver says,"Where are the alleviations if to get to Ramallah we have to go through 3 checkpoints." One of the passengers complains to the soldiers in excellent Hebrew but the driver is allergic to any disturbance and delay of the passengers and tells him to leave it. We also think that any interference either from us or from him will make the soldiers angry and to detain the people.
Crossroads of Burin...no blockage.
As we saw in the last few days the checkpoint is developing and improving with fences within fences and locked gates. The fences give the feeling of a jail. When there is a space between them it is filled with fenced tuff. "They will bring flowers" says the commander A. He hurries to tell us to stand further back (at the last exit of the checkpoint). He says that our very presence makes it difficult for the soldiers who are checking.
The humanitarian line is quickly organized. Most of the men are checked by ID. Sometimes not and it seems that the younger men are sent back .
A: "It is true that there is arbitrariness so that that should not get used to the idea that they are not being checked." The new checkpoint has its problems he tells us. The posts are isolated and if there is an incident it will be harder to react. " It is difficult to estimate the packages and boxes , their weight and so the checking is slower". The signs call the detainees shed a place of "waiting" and next to the narrow turnstile for those entering is a sign "Entrance for handicapped" on a closed gate. " If a handicapped person arrives I have a key and open it ,"says A.
15.15 Two of our friends come to visit and to see and when they leave they phone us to say that the owners of the kiosks says that K. from the DCO threatened them that if they would still be there in a matter of minutes he would arrest them and put them in the "jorra". We go there and see that I. and other soldiers are marching in their lordly fashion to the vegetable kiosk which is at the entrance to the checkpoint. The man and his 13 year old son seem worried. The next moment a soldier notices us and whispers to K. K. goes up to the owner of the kiosk and asks him to clean up the area around his kiosk. The boy hurries to pick up the rubbish which passers by had thrown down and also with a homemade broom to sweep the area. After that the boy sees my badge (which the settlers had torn off in the summer) and runs to bring scissors and using it fixes it more firmly in its place. And with this he cuts his hand and blood spills out but he smiles bravely as boys do and says that it is nothing and not to worry.
15.50 A drill at the checkpoint and for 10 minutes everything comes to a halt. At the head of the line stands a bent old men at an angle of 90 degrees. It is hard for him to stand but no one is allowed through, not even he.
16.00 Beit Furik.
Two bored soldiers guard the checkpoint. It is open to cars either coming or going to Nablus. The taxis speed at the turning of the road to the checkpoint and show us the V sign with smiles. One is forced to think "What was the point of all the years of suffering with the pedantic checking of the residents, the "one by one" when suddenly there is nothing. Daphne asks what about pedestrians and is told that no pedestrians are allowed through. "They must take a taxi or come through with a friend. The area must stay sterile." The soldier yawns. "We only check if there are alerts." Again arbitrary. What does it make a difference if there is no checking how the people come to the checkpoint. The remains of stone and sheets of material thrown from the pleasant kiosk which the settlers had burnt down remain. Daphnae smells the smell of fire. Desolation around the kiosk of A., the peppermint and tomato plants smell of life.
16.30 Huwwara. The eastern area is lit by a shining light. The fences close the people, the soldiers and the tuff in. It is very cold,. The moaning sound of the loudspeakers "Girls". Or "turn around" or "raise it higher, yallah."
17.20 On the way back...a border police car stands with flashing lights but there is no checkpoint and no checking.
Opposite Marda the "deserted" house seems to be more organized with new nets of camoflauge. An army jeep stands in front of it facing the road and this was also so at 14.00.