Qalqiliya, Mon 19.1.09, Morning

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Nina S., Roni Sh. (reporting) Translation: Galia S.

Eliyahu Passage 

06:50 – Very few workers are waiting
to pass and few others are waiting for transportation at the parking
lot. There are two lines for entering cars, one of which is for settlers
who enter without inspection and another for "other" Israelis
who are checked very carefully.


06:55 – Few cars and quick passage
in both directions. According to the workers who have passed on foot
(without inspections), workers from Habla, Ras at Tira and other small
villages in the area are not allowed to pass at Eliyahu Passage and
go to their work in Alfei Menashe, in retaliation for throwing a stone
last Friday. This explains the fact that only few workers are there.
The workers we talk to tell us that they are from Azzun Atme and that
they passed through Habla tunnel, Qalqiliya checkpoint and Eliyahu Passage
to their work in Alfei Menashe.

07:10 – The entrance to Azzun is open. 


09:15 – There is a lot of traffic in
both directions. Documents and at times trunks, too, are checked, especially
of cars with Israeli licence plates that enter Tulkarm. Taxis that enter
the city are sometimes sent to stand aside while the documents are checked
on the computer, which causes long lines that fade away fast when cars
are let pass without inspection.

A very long truck (with a driver and
Israeli licence plates) carrying bags of flour with UNWRA symbol is waiting
beside the road on the way out of Tulkarm for passage permission to
Israel. An Israeli refrigeration truck whose driver wishes to enter
Tulkarm is also sent aside to wait for the checking of the entrance
permit. He doesn't get a permit and turns back.

09:55 – We leave. 

Figs Passage (Jubara) 

10:10 – The soldiers claim they haven't
heard about us and check if we are allowed to pass to Ar-Ras checkpoint
(Farm 8 in the military jargon). We wait.

We see again the truck from Anabta whose
driver has received permission to pass, in addition to two other similar
trucks carrying flour for UNWRA and heading Gaza Strip. At the moment
the drivers are waiting for another two trucks and an UNWRA representative
that is supposed to accompany them. A DCO representative [District Coordination
Office of the IDF Civil Administration that handles passage permits]
who handles their affairs is here and we ask him to find out what delays
our permission to pass. We have been waiting there for 30 minutes talking
to the head of the DCO, Grisha, to the checkpoint commander and the
advanced command post. It is clear that the checkpoint commander is
reluctant to let us pass and causes difficulties. We insist and finally
make it with the help of the DCO person.

Checkpoint 753 

We pass without any problem. 


Four nice reservists greet us. They seem
to enjoy the flowers and the view, and they are also familiar with MachsomWatch.
One of them has been as a conscript soldier and knows the history of
the road and the checkpoint. He remembers being told that this is only
a temporary one…

In all directions the vehicle passage
is fast. The documents of one taxi cab are quickly checked on the computer.

11:15 – We return to the locked gate
at Jubara and sound the horn to make the soldiers aware of our arrival
so that they open the gate. We wait 10 minutes and hoot again. We can
see that the soldiers ignore us. We call the IDF HUMANITARIAN Center
and the DCO and we are told that they are trying to find out… 
Grisha, the head of the DCO, answers politely but says that's none of
his business and that the DCO man who was there has already left after
taking care of the UNRA trucks. He says he will refer us to the brigade.
We were turned from one telephone to another by polite women soldiers
who, of course, have no authority to act and end up with Ziv, at the
battalion (we have no idea what his task is), who claims that the soldiers
were instructed 20 minutes ago to open the gate and have now gotten
another instruction. He agrees with us that there is a problem of disobedience
and a necessity of educating the soldiers. He says he will inform the
battalion commander etc. etc. then we see a soldier with a smug smile
on his face walk deliberately slowly and opens the gate very slowly,
too, although he can hear that we describe his behavior on the phone.
We have been locked there for 35 minutes and it felt very unpleasant.

It's obvious that soldiers, who disobey
an order so blatantly when it concerns us, will treat the Palestinians
arbitrarily and brutally.