'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 16.2.09, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
14:40 The entrance to Marda is open. The entrance to Zeita is blocked by concrete cubes.
14:45 Za'tara junction. About 22 cars on line from Nablus. Two inspection lanes, no delays.
Huwwara 15:00 - 16:30
A small cart in the parking lot with drinks and packaged snacks. Most of the area has been cleaned of residues of food and packages. Two covered carts/stalls near the pedestrian entrance await better days.
From the entrance, where many people come through on foot, on the way to the waiting taxi drivers, we can see the people waiting in the shed - we counted more than 80. From here, we can also see the usual ceremony involved in passing through the turnstile, placing personal belongings on the counter, through the magnemometer, presenting ID, back to the counter, handing over belongings for inspection, removing the ID from the lower box...This time, most people went through without removing their belts.
A constant flow of women of different ages and older men goes through the humanitarian lane.
15:15 Two inspection booths: 31 people went through the turnstiles in 10 minutes. A young man we watched might have waited 30 minutes from the time he entered the shed. Very many students returning from Nablus. Two "ecumenicals" arrive; after a short, friendly discussion they went through to check the other side, the length of the vehicle line.
15:20 Someone's been detained.
15:40 The soldier we asked about the detainee doesn't know anything; he's just arrived.
No DCO representative around. After a while we asked the checkpoint commander about the detainee; he told us that it's being looked into.
16:00 About 100 people waiting in the shed. We timed the wait again: 35 minutes. In 10 minutes, only 24 people went through.
Few cars entering Nablus, no delays.
The exit lane for vehicles is particularly slow, only one inspection lane open. From time to time a "VIP" car arrives and goes through in a separate lane without inspection.
16:10 Average inspection time per car - 2 minutes. We were told that at 15:30, there were 32 cars on line. Mostly private cars, a few taxis and a bus. Some of the cars are inspected carefully, after all the passengers get out. No dog handler, and the x-ray vehicle isn't being used.
A Palestinian speaking Hebrew comes over to us and says his brother was held by the GSS for about a month (he was taken from home for interrogation), and ever since, each time his brother goes through the checkpoint, he's detained. He knows that he should get in touch with the DCO to clear his name and get off the blacklist, but he's afraid. His brother was released before we could respond, and they left.
16:30 The car that P., from Switzerland, started tracking an hour earlier, is now fifth on line.
16:40 Awarta junction.
On the way we saw a long line of trucks, up to the curve in the road. We continued to Beit Furik, assuming it would be deserted, but there were a few soldiers next to the shed, and they even stopped one of the existing cars, only for a few minutes, so that a short line of three cars formed, and then they drove on.
17:10 On the way back we stopped at Awarta next to the soldiers. A cart harnessed to a donkey stood opposite them, and two Palestinians (father and son?) lit a small fire to warm themselves. The soldiers didn't allow us to speak with them, and asked us to park beyond the stop sign. We did so, and were able to see each vehicle that arrived, because there weren't more than three or four trucks on line, and they went through in a few minutes. The two men with the donkey indicated that they didn't want to be photographed, but asked for food. All we had were clementines and a few candies that we'd bought at the Huwwara checkpoint. We went over and gave these to them, to the displeasure of policemen who just then passed by the junction; there weren't any problems.
Entry to Nablus is unrestricted.
17:30 Back to Huwwara, the line of cars seems shorter (about 20), and there seem to be only about half as many people in the shed as there were before.
Za'tara junction. 32 cars on line from Nablus, two inspection booths. No cars from the other direction.