'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 14.1.09, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
7:20 Za'tara - Tapuach.
About 10 vehicles from the west and only 3 cars waiting from the north. Two cars being inspected in the parking lot, surrounded by armed soldiers and by police. We went over to watch; the tumult dissipated in a couple of minutes and the vehicle went on its way, so we didn't try to find out what was going on.
Light traffic on Huwwara's village main road; shops have begun opening. We didn't see pupils going to school (see below - Curfew!).
A Border Police vehicle opposite Beita. The entrance was open at this hour.
7:30 Beit Furik - The checkpoint is empty, 2 soldiers on duty. They're checking randomly and fairly quickly.
7:50 Awarta -
A number of soldiers are manning the new booth farther in front, intended for commercial vehicles with permits and VIP vehicles. They're not pleased, to say the least, to see us and talk, and ask us to leave. One vehicle was being inspected while we were there; a second waited some distance away.
The lot is almost empty. Few people go through the new checkpoint. A humanitarian lane on the left. From where we're permitted to stand (next to the entry turnstile to Nablus) it's very hard to see anything happening on the left side.
Three turnstiles inside are operating, a metal detector and a place for possessions. Farther on, in front, three booths were inspections are conducted without physical contact. Soldier checking ID's sit behind a protective transparent wall. The ID is passed through a slot and returned to a lower pocket. There are exits on two sides, but both aren't always operating. We didn't observe any problems.
The Palestinians seem to have "gotten used" to the system.
One or two busses in the parking lot all the time we where there, but relatively few cars. There aren't any peddlers, but there are portable stands. Apparently they're allowed to move from place to place.
After the market was taken down they learned to improvise; candy and other things are again displayed on the concrete barriers near the checkpoint. The peddlers tell us that from time to time they're arrested in order to remove them from the checkpoint's area.
They're also angry at the DCO representative who actively participates in efforts to remove them.
There was a taxi driver in the isolation pen when we were there. He didn't obey instructions, and they decided to teach him a lesson. It appears to be punishment. We contacted the humanitarian office and also talked to the commander. After a short time the humanitarian center informed us they had contacted the checkpoint. We asked the commander not to "carry out the sentence;" people are having enough trouble as it is. He promised to try. From time to time we went back to the vicinity of the inspection booths and spoke with the checkpoint commander, trying to convince him to let us stand there rather than at a distance.
The vehicle lanes:
Unrestricted entry for vehicles, but we saw very few.
Rigorous inspections of almost every vehicle leaving Nablus.
In general, people are pretty confused, pained and fearful because of the situation.
9:50 Huwwara village is closed down. A curfew has been imposed again, as on previous days. The Border Patrol jeep that usually stands opposite the entrance to Beita isn't visible now. We called Zaharan and made clear our opinion about the automatic, uncreative reaction to incidents of youths throwing stones (it isn't how many there were that day, or where). We certainly warned them that the whole business would blow up in their face as anger accumulates and hatred increases. As if the war isn't enough, the curfew reminds everyone that the West Bank is also under occupation, and also severely damages normal life. He promised to talk to the brigade commander and get back to us, but nothing happened - not that we had any hopes, but we musn't give up!!!
Za'tara-Tapuach - A small number of vehicles waiting at the checkpoint from the north.