Huwwara, Mon 15.12.08, Afternoon
13.45 At Zeita the road is closed as usual.
Crossroads of Za'tara/Tapuach. 13.55
Random checking of cars from North to South. Otherwise a free passage.
Taxi drivers meet us excitedly and those carrying vegetables tell us that a captain of the DCO told them that if they do not vacate all the kiosks he will come with heavy equipment and vacate them. It has been decided to completely empty the market which has grown up in the parking lot. Efforts were made to speak to the headquarters of the DCO so that women of Machsom could check this out but until we let the commander of the DCO did not arrive although he had promised to do so and it is not clear what is to be done and why.
The non commissioned officer of the DCO who was present said that the decision had been taken because of the large amount of dirt and he said that only if they evacuated the kiosks would there be a clear passage for pedestrians to the taxis.
The exit from Nablus is open but only through the turnstile. Next to it is a large locked gate. A young couple struggle to get a folded pram through the turnstile. One of us asked a soldier who was standing next to the fence and watching if he could open the gate. His answer was "If she (the Palestinian) would ask me I would open but if you ask I will not." And he added :"Because you are the trouble makers of Israel." But the Palestinian would not ask.
The detainees are held in the "waiting area".
The dictionary of the checkpoints has been enriched. We found a detainee who had been kept more than an hour because of the daily suspicions attacked to his number. We get the laconic answer from the commander that he is a "security" risk and that he cannot solve this recurring problem. We could only speak to him when he came out.
15.00 We hear explosions at the car lane, the old checkpoint. Here the traffic has been stopped for more than an hour waiting for a big explosion which does not happen. Cars going to Nablus were sent to Awarta. The soldiers admitted that it was only a "small package" and it is not clear what aroused their suspicions.
15.15 A procession comes to welcome prisoners who were freed today as a gesture of good will to Abu Mazen. To the roll of drums and carrying Palestinian flags and many flages with yellow in the middle, the sign of Palestine and other symbols which we did not recognize.
Most of the welcoming committee are young and the soldiers try to force them back from the gate leading to Nablus. In the beginning a small group arrives carrying a young man on their shoulders. They get through the turnstiles and are received with hugs and kisses. After some time a larger group arrives accompanying more prisoners with their mothers, wives and children. Each freed prisoner carries a Palestinian flag around his neck and after passing the turnstile is carried on the shoulders of those waiting.