Beit Furik, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), יום ג' 3.2.09, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
Although there are no jams along the way to Huwwara, there is the feeling of something about to happen in the area; there are lots of military vehicles.
The reason very soon became clear to us.
The crossing is clear
A military vehicle is parked by the Zeita roadblock; the entrances to both Beita and Marda are open.
The roadblock is empty from the direction of Road No.5, about 27 cars queue from the direction of Nablus, there are no detainees in the area of the roadblock.
We continue on in the direction of Huwwara and Beit Furiq.
Beit Furiq roadblock
Vehicles enter and leave without any inspection or hindrance. At the roadblock there are relatively a lot of military and police personnel and a military jeep is parked there.
The roadblock is closed from all directions, no one in and no one out; there are a lot of military and police vehicles, soldiers with weapons at the ready, residents standing at a distance from the road.
We assume that a VIP is expected and, indeed, a few minutes later a helicopter lands at the adjacent army base and another few minutes later a convoy of military vehicles and white vans with darkened windows leaves for Huwwara roadblock. The soldiers do not answer us and are not prepared to reveal the 'secret' of the visitor. The visitors alight from the vehicles near the high tower and we identify the Chief of Staff.
The Chief of Staff and his entourage stop for about 10 minutes and talk to the soldiers and between themselves, they do not approach the pedestrian crossing, and then they re-board their vehicles and leave in the direction of Beit Furiq, at about 9:00 a.m. we saw them return to the base.
The DCO representative tells us that the area was cleaned up two days ago and, indeed, the area of the entrance to Nablus is clean and tidy. (Our assumption is that the area was cleaned up for the Chief of Staff's visit.)
The car park is also clean and not one stallholder is to be found there.
Immediately after the Chief of Staff left the oppressive routine recommences.
The place in which we are at present permitted to stand, the entrance path to Nablus, makes is very difficult to observe what is going on.
As soon as the roadblock opens the flow of many tens of residents into Nablus begins, the turnstile is unable to regulate the entrance and it is under pressure, even before we turn to the soldier to get him to open up the disabled gate too, the gate is opened and for about 20 minutes a great mass of people cross.
At the exit from Nablus a light stream of people leave, the humanitarian queue is empty most of the time, once in a while a resident crosses it without hindrance.
An average of 15 people queue at the turnstile and the waiting time is about 5 minutes. There are no detainees.
The inspection is routine: placing bags on the table, removing belts, document inspection and then crossing.
We must point out that although there is a disabled crossing, in order to get to it one has to go between concrete blocks and a wheelchair, even the narrowest one, would not be able to get between them.
When we go in the direction of the vehicle crossing, stalls have already popped up in the car park selling coffee and sweets.
The vehicle roadblock: there is a queue of some 10 vehicles waiting to leave Nablus, there are two checkpoints, the crossing is quick and we concentrated on a car, the seventh in the queue, and it reached the inspection within 11 minutes but, by chance, it was a large, empty taxi which was apparently chosen to have a thorough inspection.
The driver was sent to sit outside the vehicle while two soldiers made a thorough inspection of it; later a dog was added to the inspection which took about 20 minutes, but at the same time other cars continued to leave Nablus.
Every so often a car was inspected at the entrance; more often than not cars cross without being inspected.
At 9:45 a.m., we left the roadblock.
At Borin/Yitzhar Junction a military jeep was parked but vehicles were not inspected.
At Za'atra/Tapuach Junction only 7 cars were queuing from the direction of Nablus and there were no cars in the queue from the direction of Road No.5.