'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), יום ב' 2.2.09, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
Summary: There are a lot of army vehicles and the Border Police are carrying out inspections at various spots on the roads.
A driver is suspected of fleeing from the roadblock at Za'atra, apparently because of a misunderstanding.
Border Police soldiers perform a raid on the stallholders at Huwwara, as a routine act, this time without any violence, perhaps because we were present.
In spite of the easing of the need for permits for vehicles in Huwwara, the inspection of vehicles is very slow, which causes most people to prefer to cross on foot.
Marda: open. Zeita: closed.
A Military Police vehicle is parked at the entrance to Beita. When we were on our way back there were two MP jeeps parked in the area opposite the entrance.
At Borin/Yitzhar Junction there is a military vehicle. Soldiers check a taxi and the contents of its boot are on the ground.
Za'atra (Tapuach Junction)
7:10 - 7:30 a.m.
A bus from the west is being inspected. All the passengers wait outside.
There are 22 cars from the north (Nablus). 3 checkpoints are functioning. 20 minutes later there were 12 cars in the queue.
There is a police car in the area and the police are writing out tickets.
There is a lorry loaded with milk for the hospital in Ramallah. The driver is accused of crossing the white line. He contends that he by-passed the queue because of his load. His permit is out of date. He waits to be given a ticket.
A taxi driver has already been waiting for an hour. He didn't wait for his ID card to be returned after inspection because people were waiting for him somewhere and he was in a hurry to let them know they shouldn't wait. According to him he told the soldiers but they thought that he was running away. When he took his ID card they called the police to him.
When we returned at 10:50 a.m., we counted 12 cars from the direction of Nablus and 2 checkpoints were functioning; from the west there were 4 cars.
There is a military jeep opposite the entrance to Itamar.
There are no queues. A taxi is being inspected quickly. After the taxi a private car and a taxi with no passengers are not inspected.
A taxi with passengers is inspected.
The roadblock is empty.
7:45 - 10:20 a.m.
At the vehicle entrance to Nablus there are no inspections.
There are 21 cars from the direction of Nablus. 2 checkpoints are functioning and an x-ray machine. At 9:30 a.m. there was also a sniffer dog.
The routine is that passengers alight from cars at a distance of a few metres from the checkpoint. When the (drawn out) vehicle inspection is complete the passengers raise jackets, turn around, and return to the vehicle. The inspection is slow in spite of the fact that there are 6 soldiers there. We monitored 17 cars in 20 minutes, i.e. the waiting time was about 25 minutes.
When we returned to the vehicle checkpoint we saw a large lorry unloading concrete partitions 'for the protection of the soldiers'.
The inspections ceased at one checkpoint. A dog inspected at the second checkpoint, this is a long drawn out inspection, so the queue did not move for 5 minutes.
Inspection time: 3 cars in 10 minutes, afterwards 5 cars in 10 minutes and later 11 cars in 10 minutes - in both checkpoints together. A total of 19 vehicles in half an hour. We are unable to see the number of cars in the queue, estimated waiting time is about half an hour.
We didn't see a taxi or a bus - apparently it is not worth it for such a long wait, therefore there is no need for a special permit - the very fact of the roadblock and the way it is run makes the crossing by car unbearable.
When we left we counted (parked on the road leading up to the settlement) 14 cars in the queue.
The pedestrian crossing: there are very few people in the queue; it is not clear why. We are told that there are studies taking place at the university. All the time we were there there were no more than 15 people in the two queues as far as we could see (not the humanitarian queue).
Nettie counted 51 people leaving the roadblock in 10 minutes.
The waiting time was about 10 minutes.
We counted 34 men being inspected in the two queues in 20 minutes. We could not monitor what was happening behind the humanitarian queue from where we stood.
Anyone coming with a bag or some parcels has to open each one, put the clothes on the small counter under the window next to the Military Police kiosk. This is complicated, there is not much room, and humiliating, everything is on view publicly.
Today the inspections are carried out quietly; the Military Policewomen do not scream and shout.
There are 8 men in the queue. There is a heavier flow of people into Nablus.
The roadblock is empty.
9:10 a.m. The car park
When we arrived this morning we saw 3 stalls selling tea and coffee, one selling bagels and one selling snacks, as well as a few peddlers holding trays of sweets.
At 9:10 a.m. a Border Police jeep arrived. The soldiers ordered the stallholders to leave immediately and, indeed, 5 minutes later they had all disappeared.
We telephoned Zaharan and complained, as individuals spending time at the roadblock, that we were prevented from buying a cup of coffee and for the drivers who spend much more time here than we do, and in the name of the stallholders who make a meagre living here for their families. (There are also no toilets.)
He, Zaharan, claimed that
- a) the roadblock will be closed within two months anyway, just as soon as all the heavy equipment is evacuated from Gaza (even if this is the case, what difference does it make if the stallholders make a living meantime?).
- b) When it is vacated - taxi drivers and stallholders will shoot at the soldiers (as if there is a shortage of Palestinians who would be happy to shoot at the soldiers, if they only could).
- c) Finally, the ultimate claim, the rubbish. And what does the rest of the area look like? According to him there are 3 cleaners (I have never seen one of them doing anything). And the final claim: it's not my decision; it's the Battalion Commander's decision. We finished with a stupid expression, "we'll see".
Re: the rubbish: one of the stallholders collected all the rubbish around him into bags, but we didn't see any rubbish bins in the area.
When we returned to the car park at 10:00 a.m., the jeep had left and all the stalls were back again.
A week ago the soldiers were not so gentle (because of us?) - they overturned the stalls and trod on the goods.
From a distance we saw a group of officers who had come to check something at the roadblock.
At the roundabout at Madison Way there are two police cars. There is a thorough search of a private vehicle going on.
On the road to Kif Alharat, near the pill box, soldiers are inspecting a car.