Beit Iba, Jit, Sun 25.11.07, Afternoon
"Set up for Annapolis" is what today's shift -- two days before the
start of the latest Middle East peace conference in Annapolis,
Maryland -- should be called. Tangible benefits for Palestinians?
We've yet to see them delivered. Making life more tolerable for
Palestinians on the ground? On the contrary. One community under
collective punishment and curfew for the last six days. And yet
another under-16 year old found, at a checkpoint, with not one, but
two explosive devices!
14:45 Deir Sharaf
We're told that there was a checkpoint – a Hummer -- by the
minimarket this morning, and that Beit Iba was closed for two
hours "after the MachsomWatch women had left."
15:00 Beit Iba
At first glance, we think, finally some honesty: the "humanitarian
post" above the checkpoint is gone! But the reality is that there is
no such thing as "honesty" in this occupation. Unusually, for this
hour, the non-military workers are still at work, making a huge
noise, putting the finishing touches to the roof above the future
pedestrian waiting shed of the upgraded checkpoint. "You should have
been here this morning," we're told, again and again, by workers and
by soldiers. "A boy, under sixteen years of age, was caught, not with
one, but with two explosive devices." This is repeated, almost with
glee, over and over. Haven't we heard such a story before, just
recently, at the other large checkpoint in Nablus, at Huwarra?
The workers are two hours behind schedule because of the checkpoint
closure. Their supervisor, dressed in army fatigues, hangs around,
tells us what we can and can't do, where we can and can't stand,
whistles, hands in pockets, or arms akimbo, with gun comfortably on
his person. The crowds of people at the checkpoint are huge. So is
the number of soldiers, six at the pedestrian checking area, usually
three of them at the checking table, the others by the turnstiles or
by the walkway.
15:15 -- there are always four, sometimes five soldiers, at the
vehicle checking area.
Four soldiers attend to a horse and its rider, coming from the Deir
Sharaf direction, all four pat the horse, gather around it as the
line of trucks behind and from Nablus grows and grows. While they
are "horsing" around, everything stops. An ambulance waits and waits.
The soldiers now begin to call out to us with insults galore, more
intent on this than on checking vehicles either to or from Nablus. We
are told to move from the checking area and a piece of piping (lots
of worker debris lies around at Beit Iba at present) forms the
newest "white" line. Not for long, since another soldier kicks it
15:22 -- at last the ambulance is checked. The soldier peers, and
asks questions about the people inside, then spits brazenly. He and
his mate proceed to use a knife to open up sacks on one of the
porter's barrows, and a well dressed man, rushes from the pedestrian
checking area to object to what is being done to his products. He is
told, of course, about the under 16 year old who had not one but two
explosive devices. In truth, this man was told that the young man
had "a bomb." The superlatives will, no doubt, continue to grow more
excessive…. These same two soldiers continue with their offensive
checking by taking out the air from one of the front tires of the
many huge semi-trailers making their way into Nablus. Only one driver
raises his voice in objection, "No, no, no." The soldiers continue to
talk and josh with each other, giving not a damn about those
waiting. One jumps aboard the donkey cart of another porter and goes
for a joy ride of a few meters.
15:40 -- a bus is stopped for seven minutes, coming from Nablus. IDs
are checked of all the young men aboard by one soldier and the one
military police at the vehicle checking area. The bus has already
waited for one hour before getting to this point. A doctor's car is
thoroughly examined, including the trunk and the contents inside the
car. A government car is subject to the same procedure, and the
driver's papers examined by a soldier who acts as though he's never
seen such documents before in his life.
There are three men in the detention compound, but we can't get
there. Either the workers or the checking soldiers stand in between
us and them, but we learn that they are being detained as punishment,
and that one has to serve "another hour." The soldiers continue the
invasive checking of young men, feeling around their waists, their
16:00 -- there is no way now for the many pedestrians from Deir
Sharaf to get through the checking area (construction ahead). A
soldier moves to the group, and instead of checking each ID
separately, gathers a pile of such IDs, then goes through them slowly
and methodically in exceedingly inefficient fashion as the group of
at least 50 people wait and wait, usually for more than 20 minutes.
16:15 Jit Junction
18 vehicles at this on-again off-again checkpoint. Very much on today
16:35 Jit Junction
– again, after we're turned back from Al Funduq. There are now 21
vehicles coming from the Beit Iba direction.