Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 22.1.09, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
14:10 We can see a fire in an olive grove from Route 5, on the way to Huwwara, a few kilometers before Burin, toward the southeast.
Construction continues of large warehouses/factories on the hilltop in the Barkan industrial area.
A mobile canteen is still open for business at the entrance to the industrial area, a little before the bridge, on the eastern side of the intersection; no one interferes.
14:20 Two Hummers in front of the isolated house opposite Marda.
Both gates to Marda are open. The gate to Beita is closed, as always, and also when we return.
Farther down the road, Israeli police stop a Palestinian vehicle.
14:25 Za'tara checkpoint -
This time the traffic jam is at the western inspection point, for a change - 23 vehicles waiting to be checked. From time to time (randomly) a car is directed to the parking area next to the booth and all passengers are asked to get out. Sometimes they're asked for ID cards, sometimes to lift their coat, their shirt. Three soldiers at the inspection point. They weren't checking at the booth for those coming from the north (from Nablus, Huwwara), but while we were at the checkpoint inspections began there as well, in two lanes, and a line of 16 vehicles formed.
14:50 Beit Furik checkpoint -
We wanted to show our French guest how a checkpoint operates. As we arrive and park in our usual spot, the checkpoint commander comes over with two soldiers and tells us to move, forbids us to photograph, doesn't believe that the IDF spokesman has authorized us to take pictures; asks us to wait until he receives confirmation over the radio. While he's waiting he asks our driver for his ID card, and of course forbids us from photographing this - we'll attach photos of one of the soldiers decorated with a flag from the women who hand out candy. Our guest has seen an example of how the soldiers welcome us, while at the same time Palestinian vehicles are driving without interference - thank God - between Beit Furik and Nablus.
The checkpoint commander says that if there's shooting (?!), our vehicle will be blocking their view.
15:20 Huwwara checkpoint -
We stand where we're "permitted" to be and see, through many fences, how the people leaving are checked. Not many are leaving Nablus because students are on vacation. Many people are entering - while they're not inspected, they have to pass through a narrow turnstile, which is difficult for someone with a number of small children, or a suitcase, for example. According to S., the DCO representative who approaches us together with I., the checkpoint commander, the familiar isolation pen from the previous checkpoint is ready for use. They said it hasn't been used yet, but how would we know? It's so far away, and we can't see it. Photos attached. To get an idea of what the checkpoint looks like inside the fences we used a photograph taken by someone else.
Reading recent reports gives an impression of a violent atmosphere at the checkpoint, but I., the checkpoint commander, and the DCO representative come over to us, both of them behaving so "nicely," polite, that for a moment we thought they'd replaced the unit assigned here.
A driver waiting for passengers to Nablus nears the entrance turnstile. He confirms that there aren't many people at the checkpoint because there are no classes at the university. A soldier comes over, tells the drive to wait there, and leaves. The driver (who was old enough to be his father) waits. Time passes. How long is he supposed to wait? Maybe (I think) he should leave? He also seems to think so, but knows who he's dealing with. The soldier returns with the checkpoint commander. The commander starts to teach him a lesson, but since we "accepted responsibility" since we were the ones who initiated the conversation, the driver is released this time without being punished.!!!
16:21 Still, someone must be punished for the previous incident - the polite checkpoint commander returns to inform us that according to instructions he's received from the battalion commander we have to leave the n o n - s t e r i l e area assigned to us and move back, leave the area of the checkpoint, because we spoke to the driver, because "when they see you they think they're on top of the world and can do anything they want."
We replied that, in any case, we'd intended to go over to the area where vehicles are inspected, and so that nothing happens to that driver we nevertheless told him that having to stand where he indicated is unacceptable to us. Hearing this, the checkpoint commander seemed ready for an argument, but we weren't.
We still don't know the view of the legal advisor about defining the checkpoint area as "sterile," which prevents us from observing what goes on there.
Two inspection lanes for exiting vehicles. We could count 17 vehicles waiting. An X-ray truck was present. Vehicles entering Nablus passed through without inspection, except for two cases: one vehicle with an Israeli license plate and a flag, "Doctors of the World," was detained, and a long line of vehicles formed until it was allowed through; later another vehicle was detained and another long line formed that quickly disappeared.
17:26 Za'tara checkpoint -
17 vehicles waiting from the north, two inspection booths, about 17 vehicles also waiting from the west, one inspection booth.