'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 25.2.09, Morning
Translation: Hanna K.
07:20 Za'tara-Tapuah Junction
The lane from the west is empty, thereare a few cars coming from the north, but this changed within minutes - a long car queue gathered there. The reason: from the east we observed a burning car, of which a black, dense smoke cloud arose. We approached and it turned out that that was an Israeli bus. Around the bus a ring of soldiers formed, one fire extinguishing vehicle was already in action. Palestinian vehicles stopped willingly or not, and a traffic jam from every direction was formed. We departed for Huwwara before we won't be able to move. On our way we contacted the Center, and we also noticed another fire extinguishing vehicle which arrived from the north. It seemed that this was not a sabotage act but a technical defect. There are no casualties. This was a serious defect in the bus, but the event created tension in the area, a big delay in the checking and the closure of the turning to the left (eastward) from the CP.
07:45 Beit Furik
The area is empty. A number of cars coming from the villages passed without stopping. On the right of the CP structure, near the road, there is the carcass of a donkey. 5-6 dogs burrowed in it hungrily. A gruesome sight. (Two weeks ago there was the carcass of a bitch). Evidently the soldiers noticed this, but they didn't do anything.
Congestion at the exit. A rather long line of trucks, among which are VIP cars, are slowly checked.
On the southern side there is a jeep checking the vehicles that arrive from Awarta. We found Abu Roukoun the passages officer and demanded quick attention to the dangerous "finding", which spreads illness, at Beit Furik (he didn't get a report before). We asked why there was a traffic jam, there is no connection with the burning of the bus in Tapuah, about which they didn't know, but to a military activity in the area. While we stayed in the area there occurred a speeding up in the checking of the cars, with the aid of the passages officer from the DCO, and the queue began to get shorter.
The pedestrians CP is quite packed - over 50 people at each section of our stay, according to our count. Only two stations for the checking of papers were active.
We checked the duration of the stay at the CP until the papers were checked - 47 minutes, the final checking takes 1-2 minutes.
The "humanitarian" queue alternately fills up and empties.
A young man tried to pass with goods containing metal frames
He was not allowed to pass, although he opened up his merchandise, although he stayed for quite a long time at the CP.
08:25 A humiliating checking of an elderly man who in front of many onlookers was obliged to lift his sweater and his shirt and take off his shoes. The checking of the contents of many is carried out on the high shelf. The shelf is both high and narrow. One labourer empties all his belongings - clothes, toilet articles, food etc. a cup drops out of his bag and is shattered on the floor. He doesn't lift nor collect the breakage (we understand him). The taxi drivers "steal" every few moments a few meters and approach the turnstile to get some passengers. When the soldiers arrive with a threatening sign of the hand they flee so as not to be detained, but return within a short while, just as they do at airports and train stations, after all they have to make a living!
At approximately 09:00 we succeed in talking to the CP commander (we entered the CP area in order to call him) and presented our observation data, which show that the checking is slow and the delay exaggerated.Although he claimed that one computer wasn't active, he opened a few moments later another station and the queue began to diminish quite quickly. Till that moment there were about 50-70 pedestrians at the CP at any given moment.
The vehicles lane:
Between 08:00 and 08:50 there was just one lane active, in the direction of the exit from Nablus. Naturally a queue of cars accumulated. Then another lane was opened, but the checking was very slow. Most cars did in fact pass withint 1-5 minutes, but some were detained for a quarter of an hour or more. All in all the soldiers didn't seem to hurry up.
In addition, the checking procedure is irritating - the passengers are taken off at a point which is far from the checking point and have in the end to run in order to reach the vehicle when the checking is over, which makes the delay even longer. Part of the busses seemed empty. We would not be surprised that this is a result of the inference of the bus users that the use of busses wastes their time. A number of cars with Israeli number plates were returned in the course of our shift, because they didn't have entry authorizations.
10:00 As we did not observe special events and there were no detainees we left the CP area.
When we arrived at Za'tara-Tapuah we counted 42 vehicles waiting. We reported to the passages officer and asked for his assistance in dissolving the jam.