Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 11.2.08, Afternoon
Translation: Maureen A.
12:25 - Shomron Crossing
We see two police cars belonging to the blue-uniformed Israel Police at the checkpoint for leaving the territories, with a group of young men, most of whom are handcuffed with plastic restraints. We couldn't stop and we couldn't understand exactly what was going on.
Za'tara Junction Checkpoint
It's almost empty from all directions. The Northern West Bank is segregated, meaning that men between the ages of 16 and 30 whose home address in their identity card is in the Northern West Bank are not allowed to travel southward and are sent back.
As we continued, in Huwwara, we met a young man of 24, a computer instructor, who lives and works in Ramallah, while his identity card lists him as living in Tulkarm. He was in Nablus and has been trying to get home to Ramallah for two days; he has gone to Za'tara twice and been sent back twice. Since he wasn't allowed through, he has returned to Nablus. All his phone calls have been in vain; he has no way of returning home and no-one will tell him when that will be possible. All he can do is to go back and forth to Za'tara, in the hope that this time they'll let him through.
13:05 - Beit Furik Checkpoin
With sensitivity as well as tenacity, the Checkpoint Commander makes us stand behind the white line.
We are approached by a Beit Furik resident whose father has died and whose family lives in Jericho.
Because of the checkpoint, only residents of Beit Furik can enter the village; they need a special permit in order for the family (from Jericho) to be allowed to come to the funeral and for a condolence call. They are at the checkpoint and they are not being allowed through. He coordinated their arrival with the DCO, but the permit has not yet reached the soldiers at the checkpoint. We speak to the DCO, who authorizes their passage through the checkpoint. He asks us to stay and to make sure that the family members who arrived yesterday are allowed to leave; we agree. The family arrives in several cars; since they are not used to the procedure at this checkpoint, they approach the checkpoint all together in a line. The soldiers checking vehicles at the checkpoint get angry at this gross infraction of the rules they have made and they send the cars back over to the other side of the road. Finally, the family is allowed to leave.
Ossama, who was running his coffee business for the taxi drivers at the checkpoint, has found work in Nablus, so someone else has taken his place with the coffee. This new person tells us that he was caught in Israel without a permit and spent six months in jail. He is now forbidden to pass through the checkpoint for the next three years, so he is stuck in the village. Since there is no work in the village, he is working the coffee-corner.
14:00 - Huwwara Checkpoint
There is one detainee in the solitary confinement area; his uncle is standing near the door of the confinement area. The Checkpoint Commander tells us that he is a "bingo", meaning that he is on the General Security Services' (the "Shabak's") wanted list. He was detained at noontime and he was still there when we left the checkpoint at 16:00.
There is a canine unit at the checkpoint, checking some of the cars leaving Nablus.
Click here to see a video of the car checking by dogs.
The DCO Officer (H.) at the checkpoint complains to us that the use of dogs at the checkpoint brings more harm than good. The use of dogs creates resentment among the Muslims, for whom the dog is an impure animal. The use of dogs significantly lengthens the time spent checking the car and it has yet to be proven that it really improves the level of the security check.
A unit of the Army Engineering Corps is moving around behind the Humanitarian Point, taking measurements. It's not clear whether or not this is in preparation for enlarging the checkpoint.
One representative of the DCO claims that they are going to build a terminal here, but the DCO Commander says no.
A jeep belonging to the blue-uniformed Israel Police arrives at the checkpoint and the policeman insists on giving us a lecture on the importance of the work the soldiers are doing at the checkpoint and how important it is that we don't interfere with them.
Later on, in the parking lot, one of the drivers approaches us and tells us that that same policeman cracked the windshield of his car. The policeman told him he did it because he suspected that the car was stolen. The driver shows us that he has a permit from the police showing that they checked the car out and that it was found to be "completely legitimate (kosher)". He's deliberating as to whether to file a claim or not; he's afraid that they will negate the permits he has, since he makes his living as a taxi driver. We put him in touch with "Yesh Din" (Volunteers for Human Rights).