Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 25.1.09, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
Tapuach (Za'tara) Junction Checkpoint 14:55
About 150 vehicles waiting to be inspected - coming from around Nablus.
In the middle of the junction that also serves as a military compound - under the furled Border Patrol flag - 4 detainees half seated on the ground leaning against the container that serves as an army office/store room. They are blindfolded, hands shackled behind their backs. One of the detainees keeps shouting "Soldier! I'm ill! Please! I need to go to the toilet!"
A soldier stands guard, occasionally tightening their blindfolds, demonstrably ignoring the pleas. A junior officer stands smoking above them on the stairs next to the container, watching, listening, gloating.
We ask the soldier how long they've been here, he doesn't know. "They're here from the previous shift". Does not respond to their request to use the toilet.
We call the hotline. Another soldier 'informs' us that 'drugs and weapons were found in their car'.
2 dog trainers arrive with a sniffer-dog that is tied to the container just next to one of the detainees.
15:25 A jeep arrives, a captain smilingly greets us. Within minutes the detainees are released. The captain points to one of them, telling us in what almost sounds like a giggle: "See that one with the stripes? 7 years ago he laid an explosive charge and did time in jail." Concludes: this was a police detention. (??) Drugs and weapons seem to have wondrously evaporated.
Another soldier: "Did you film me? See? A Border Patrolman releasing Arabs!!"
IN the meantime, 5 cabs are being detained as well.
Huwwara Checkpoint 16:15
Border Patrol bosses the area. This morning they smashed the juice-vendor's little stand. And hit him as well, so the people tell us. The Checkpoint itself was closed for an hour-and-a-half before noon.
The side line for women and elderly is long and slow. Again, hundreds of people in the waiting lines.
Everything as usual: The MPwomen's bored/irritated/sniding/cross/ and especially inarticulate voices in the loudspeakers, 'One by one!" "Move back!!", the belts removed, the humiliation, the horrific crowding in the lines, the tears and shaking hands of the young woman-student who unfortunately forgot her ID at home in another purse and is not allowed to cross the checkpoint to go home to Huwwara after her day at the university (until she and the DCO and we and they somehow came up with the ingenious solution of calling her father on someone's cell phone so he can tell her the ID number to be told to the DCO who would check it against the army computers to be cleared and allowed to go).
What else? A novelty. For us, at least: A yellow metal gate lying open along the vehicle checking zone, to be closed at any time, thus blocking this exit/entry to the city of Nablus.
We left at 17:35, time to take our Shame and Nausea home to bed. Their proud father - Occupation - with his bald spots, paunch, ranks, various drawn firearms and existential angst - went on celebrating in the Territories.