'Anabta, 'Azzun, Eliyahu Crossing, Qalqiliya, Mon 23.3.09, Morning
Translation: Galia S.
06:30 – About 70 workers are still waiting to pass. One of them serves as a "line keeper" who sees to it that it proceeds in an orderly manner. The magnetometer and the documents checks take one minute per person. According to the military police officer who approaches us, the checkpoint opened at 05:00.
Following a telephone conversation, the officer tells us to move away but since we have seen all there is to see, we leave the place.
At the parking lot, workers are waiting for their transportation.
06:55 – Random checks (one out of thirty cars) and no line on the way out of the city. At the entrance, on the other hand, there is a line of some 10 cars because more cars are checked (one out of three) and the checks include close questioning regarding destination etc. the IDF logic at its best…
Many Palestinians with carts and donkeys leave Qalqiliya and pass through the checkpoint, heading the settlement Tsufin. Palestinian cars are no allowed to enter through the checkpoint.
07:20 – The entrance to Azzun near the garage via Isbat Tabib is open, according to a taxi driver who passes them, but the main entrance, road 55, is completely closed, blocked by a large earth rampart!!
07:35 – Jit junction is open.
The new checkpoint / the barrel checkpoint / Deir Sharaf / the checkpoint replacing Beit Iba
07:40 – Quick passage. The checks are random and brief. The soldiers are civil. Drivers of cars with Israeli licence plates are not allowed to pass. We have been waiting there for 20 minutes but we haven't seen anything unusual except, of course, for the checkpoint stuck in the middle of Palestinian villages and cities…
08:30 – A deafening noise accompanies the earth-works that continue intensively. The huge bulldozers cross the road every now and then and the traffic stops. The soldiers at the entrance to Anabta seem to be fond of teaching the drivers a lesson and give those who don't get the hand gesture the runaround. They send them back to an imaginary line and scold them, which result in a line of over 20 cars at the entrance to the city. At the exit from the city two very bored soldiers are sitting in the shack, handling the passage from there by waiving a finger, and when the finger gets tired, the passage is delayed, producing a line. A soldier who hasn't introduced himself as the commander tries to tell us where to stand but we refuse to move.
When the line at the entrance stretches as far as the junction, we complain at the Humanitarian Center and, surprisingly, within less than 10 minutes two soldiers that, though not wearing ranks, seem to be in authority arrive in a jeep. They send the two soldiers that are so fond of teaching a lesson for a rest in the city and start sending all the cars without any inspections or hassling.
A taxi that leaves the city is detained for 15 minutes but after documents check is free to go on its way.
09:20 – A pick-up truck transporting gas containers for refill is not allowed to pass because the permit he has for transporting gas has expired. However, he has got a receipt from Ramle confirming that he has paid for a new permit. Only 45 minutes later, two phone calls to the Humanitarian Center and the intervention of another officer he is free to go on his way. Another driver that distributes gas has been detained but he is released 20 minutes later.
After the two soldiers who had come and operated the checkpoint efficiently and without hassling left, it's pay-back time. The checkpoint commander tells us explicitly that since we interfered with the activity of the checkpoint, the soldiers are angry at us and their performance suffers. While some 30 cars are waiting in line at the entrance, the soldiers are standing outside, eating sandwiches defiantly and holding back the passage of cars. We fill another complaint to the Humanitarian Center and decide to leave with a very heavy heart.
10:20 – From the road on our way home we glance at the area of Ar-Ras checkpoint but we can see no sign of it.