Beit Furik, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 25.2.09, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
On our way. Nadim's car passes villages along the road, and the landscape, and Racheli says that the ride is more bearable because everything's so green after the rain. Like the song says: "The despair is easier to bear."
14:50 10 cars at the Za'tara/Tapuach junction.
15:00 Burin/Yitzhar - a temporary roadblock. 6 cars parked on the side of the road.
15:10 Beit Furik:
Cars drive to and from Nablus without interference. We photographed dogs eating a donkey's carcass; not very pleasant, but natural. The pillbox, on the other hand, isn't very natural. A soldier pops us to inform us that we're not allowed to photograph in a military area. Instead of replying we started to ask him how he feels at the checkpoint. He changed his mind about photographing, but said that "he keeps what he thinks to himself." Sharon, who's a foxier checkpoint veteran than I, thinks that he hasn't any opinion, which is why he hasn't anything to say. I preferred to take him at his word.
When we arrived at Huwwara we met a Swiss volunteer who is located in Yanun. He told us that at 11:00 AM he saw policemen beating a Palestinian and making him lie on the road. He saw him lying on the road surrounded by policemen, but didn't know why.
The checkpoint was extremely crowded. It turned out that all the schoolchildren traveled to Nablus to participate in a demonstration in support of Abu Mazen, and they were now on their way back to their villages. One of the young men in charge of the children asked us to help them go through. They weren't allowed to go through the humanitarian lane. The checkpoint commander and the DCO representative wanted the ID of a parent. We called the humanitarian office, and they made a similar suggestion which, of course, was no solution. Nothing helped, and the children had to go through the regular lane, where they were identified by their birth certificates. It should be noted that the regular lane was full of people returning from work. There were about 70 children at the checkpoint. We asked that they be moved up, and go through first, or that they be allowed to go through the humanitarian lane. Everyone connected with the checkpoint responded impatiently, in particular a master sergeant who was ruder than anyone else. We stood in the lane into Nablus surrounded by children and young people who had already succeeded in going through and waited for their companions. He chased away the ones who were waiting (who were standing beyond the checkpoint and weren't bothering him or interfering with those going through). "Where are they all from, come on, get out of here, go," he yelled in broken Arabic. We told him to calm down and speak politely. His reply: "Get them out of here; I don't want to see them." There still wasn't any solution regarding the children. We convinced them to move over to the regular lane in order not to waste time. But they apparently decided to protest and kept returning to the humanitarian lane, from which they kept being turned back to Nablus. And their companions kept screaming and yelling and causing even more of an uproar. The children finally went through the regular lane, except for one who had forgotten his birth certificate at home. A thin boy of 13-14, who had to wait for his brother to ride the bus to Awarta and return on foot (an hour on the road) with his birth certificate. And that's after they've already waited more than two hours. I understood that in the Huwwara checkpoint kingdom there are no Palestinian children.
The Huwwara checkpoint recognizes infants or children accompanied by father and mother. Children aged 12-13-14 are dangerous by definition, particularly when they don't always carry their parents' ID card. According to the laundered language familiar to all of us, it's always a "Palestinian youth," even if he's 10 years old, and even if they shoot him, and maybe especially if they shoot him, or maybe they just yell at him at the checkpoint.
Because of the uproar, the soldiers lose track of people entering Nablus, and at least twice they suddenly started chasing people who they put in the pen.
The automobile line from Nablus:
15:20 - 60 cars
16:30 - 24
16:55 - 38
Initially, the inspection was very slow, but then they speeded it up a little and things got better.
Dusk fell and the boy was still waiting for his brother and birth certificate. The Swiss volunteer also was in contact with his office, but to no avail. Before we left one of the laborers passing through the checkpoint came over to us. He arrives from Nablus at 4:00 AM; the checkpoint is supposed to open at 5:00. He and his fellows arrive early in order to go through quickly and catch their rides. He has a permit to work in Israel. The checkpoint doesn't open on time, so every morning they wait for two hours or more to get through and catch their ride. We gave him the number of the humanitarian office and told him to call whenever the checkpoint doesn't open on time.