'Awarta, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 18.1.09, Morning

Yael B., Ditza Y. (reporting)

Translator:  Charles K.

A joint project of "HaPo'el Tel Aviv" and a children's group from Nablus.  A heartwarming, tiny point of light (or perhaps it's even a big one) in the midst of all the helplessness and hopelessness.

Za'tara:  17 vehicles from the west, a bus being inspected, its passengers beside it.

6 vehicles at the northern checkpoint.

7:40  Huwwara - A military jeep at the northern exit from the village, 3 soldiers next to it.

7:45  Awarta - A car being inspected.  No other vehicles.

7:50  Huwwara checkpoint: 
80 or more people waiting for the turnstiles.  People going to Nablus throughout our shift, sometimes only a few, sometimes large groups gathering at the turnstiles, people wait 2-3 minutes and go through.

Maybe the army could be asked to remove the sign over the turnstile, Handicapped crossing?

There's a new procedure for people leaving through the new checkpoint:  coats and belts are laid on a stand near the exit gate, and ID cards are inserted into a special device.  Some of those going through have to lift up their shirts, and those who are "chosen" have to pirouette.  Some have to place their packages on the stand; sometimes the inspector makes do with asking them to open their bag, sometimes they have to take everything out and somehow manage to hold it in their hands because there's nowhere to put it.  The sophisticated checkpoint design didn't take into account that there are Palestinians shorter than 1.7 meters.  One of the stands is, in fact, low, and its easy to put on it what comes out of the bag, but the second is high, and often, especially when the bags are heavy, people have difficulty reaching it to place their bag there.  Some people are made to pass their bags for inspection through the window on the eastern side, which is also high.

We timed how long people waited to go through the checkpoint: 20 minutes.

9:15  A young man from Jenin approached us.  He said he's the coordinator of "HaPo'el Tel Aviv in Nablus."  It turns out that, at his initiative, and with the help of Israeli peace activists, HaPo'el Tel Aviv adopted a children's group from Nablus, making it possible for them to practice and helping them with their studies.  There are 120 children, 9 and older, in the group.  They're permitted to attend games in Tel Aviv sometimes (we have his name and phone number).  When we asked what his neighbors in Jenin, a town not particularly fond of Israel, think about his cooperating with Jews, he said they know he's loyal to his people, and that his project is good for the children.

9:30  Two minibus drivers report that in the past few days soldiers at the entrance to the village of Huwwara stop vehicles, make the passengers get out and detain them.   Last Friday one of them was detained for three-quarters of an hour; this morning the second was detained for about an hour and a half.  We agreed they'd telephone us if and when this happened again.

10:00  We got to our car and found the back window had been smashed.

People at the falafel stand where we stopped to finish up our shift with a falafel were upset when they saw the damaged car.  One of the workers offered to repair it at a discount.  He told us to report the broken window to the Border Police.  When he saw that we didn't plan to do so, he added that every time a rock is thrown a total curfew is imposed on the village.