Beit Iba, Thu 4.12.08, Morning

Observers: Rachel A-T, Tamar S. (Chana S. translating)

7.15    On the way to Beit Iba, after the turning to Shavei Shomron, there is a new checkpoint, at present open, composed of concrete barriers, 2 gatesinfo-icon and watch stations on both sides of the road.

7.30    Beit Iba

The weather is very unpleasant, with strong winds creating sand storms from the quarry.  Pedestrians quickly pass the checkpoint in the direction of Nablus, without a queue.  A line of 5 pedestrians exiting Nablus.

A DCO soldier answers our query about the new checkpoint:  It has been built for emergency situations when there has been an incident.  The checkpoint commander approaches us and asks us not to disturb and to remain standing in one position next to the checkpoint.

Cars pass in both directions.  We see no dog handler.  An unusual number of huge trucks, for building, pass exiting Nablus and are checked relatively thoroughly. We stand opposite the checkpoint so as to observe the line of vehicles.  A soldier and, after him, the commander come to reprimand us for not remaining in the specified place.  They claim that we ‘are exposed and it is not possible to protect you.’  They were angry and firm. They got a bit confused – but did not give in - when we said that we would be responsible for ourselves.  After a few minutes we moved away from there.

A taxi arrives and bypasses the queue, stops in the side line for loads, the driver gets out and runs to the soldiers.  Apparently there is an urgent case; they allow him to pass.

A pedestrian passing next to us tells us in broken English that we should come in the afternoon when the checkpoint is full.

 A truck carrying a tractor with a huge Israeli flag arrives. It unloads the tractor.

A long line of trucks develops.  We can’t see to where it reaches.

Soldiers approach us and ask us about our organisation. They get angry at our answers.  There are rumours about the new checkpoint that we saw on the way – both among the soldiers and among the Palestinians and it seems that no one really knows what it is to be. A soldier says that they are building a checkpoint 2 km away that is to replace Beit Iba, but he does not know any more than this.  A Palestinian who is friendly with Rachel tells us that this is a checkpoint that will close at 6 o’clock every evening.