יום ה' 26.7.07, בוקר
Translation: L. Williams
15:00 Aanin Checkpoint
The gate is already open and only 15 people and children, with two donkeys and two tractors, are waiting to return from the Seam Zone to the village. The soldiers are holding all the IDs and permits collected in the morning when people went to work, and are now returning them. A young man with permits returns together with his 13 year old brother. He contends that the brother was allowed to pass with him in the morning, without listing and ID, and now the soldiers won`t permit the child to return unless he produces to them his mother`s ID and permit (the father died a few years ago). But the mother does not have such a permit. She after all does not work in agriculture and the sons work with their uncle. They also do not allow the youngster to phone from the area of the checkpoint.
Up to the hour of closing, the soldiers repeatedly phoned somewhere, and were adamant about the mother`s documents. Suddenly, at 15:35, they relented and let the youngster and his brother return home. Another youngster who passed in the morning, and his ID remained in his possession, arouses suspicion and is detained for clarification.
A young man, with ID but no transit permit, had gone out a few days ago, and is now not permitted to pass immediately and he is eventually let through after debate up to the moment of closing the gate. None of the three soldiers speaks Arabic, and it was lucky that Sima was there and could serve as interpreter.
15:45 Shaked (Tura)
The checkpoint gates are open, with no passers by. Seven soldiers sit, bored, in the makeshift office.
15:55 Rihan (Bartaa)
In the Palestinian parking lot, we met a resident of Anin who told us that, this morning, a hundred men came to the checkpoint, wanting to pass, but only 25 passed by 08:00 because the soldiers worked slowly. That perhaps explains how few were returning. According to him, on Monday when there was a shift of ours, it was okay. He also said that they confiscated the transit passes of four Aanin residents and sent them to the DCO to get new permits, since they hadn`t returned from the Seam Zone (or Israel) on the day they went out.
Three pick up trucks with agricultural produce are being checked in the closed compound. A few vehicles are passing under regular procedure from the West Bank to the Seam Zone.
16:00: workers are beginning to return to the West Bank. Seems that there is a hitch in the terminal. Only one station is working, there is crowding and slow transit.
16:15: the soldiers transfer to another station and the pressure lets up. Time taken to transit the terminal is 15 minutes..
יום ה' 26.7.07, בוקר
A very quite morning. Not many vehicles and in general they are let thorough with very little checking. Two transits are detained, the soldiers hardly let us approach for questions, when they finally do they caution me that the drivers had left home at 3 am and because of my "interference" they will be detained longer, they do finally tell me that they are being checked and have been there only a few minutes, after a few minutes more they are let go.
We had very little to do and decided to go to Qalandia, this can be turned into a regular shift.
Very big queues at the external as well as the internal turnstiles. The policeman in charge tells us that all five entrances are opened, one man from the queue claims that the policeman is lying and proved by trying to get through entrance no. 3 and being turned back. We call the Humanitarian line, and pretty soon entrance paasage is allowed through no. 3, but not through 4 and 5. We could not enter the external turnstiles at that point but gathered that those entrances were used by the prisoners' families and apparently when all the families went through the pressure was lifted. The police man could have explained the situation to us but he preferred to say that he can not share with us the reason for the pressure (people do get their sense of worth by all kind of ways).
There were about 50 people waiting for the Matak which opened a few minutes after 9 o'clock. One man approached us telling that he has moved to A-Ram a year and a half ago, rented an apartment next to the checkpoint thinking that since he had a blue ID and pays his dues to the municipality of Jerusalem he would save himself the trouble of having to go through checkpoints, but he was wrong. He is not allowed to go through A-Ra, since he is not on the list. He had been coming to the Matak several times trying to get himself on the list – but to no avail. Noam talked with the Matak and will follow the case.
It was my first experience with a hostile MP soldier ( a young woman whom I had never seen before) who sits behind the glass window at the Palestinian side of CP (until now my experience with these soldiers was of cooperation and help). This time the soldier claimed that she could not hear my request (to get the phone number of the Matak window), would not move off her chair to open a window so she can hear me, did not respond to my demand to get her name but got up to close the door of her "cell" so that she will be completely isolated from any communication. I reported it to the Humanitarian Center. She exhibited the same behavior toward a man who tried to get some information. no other official was at that time on the Palestinian side of the CP.
יום ג' 24.7.07, בוקר
Translation: Devorah K.
0600-0655 Rihan CP
In the upper parking lot we meet the lucky ones who are hurrying to work. Minibus-taxis are waiting for those who are still delayed. Most of those we asked answered that this morning there were no problems and the passage was speedy. Among these there are some who add -- 'but yesterday it was hard'.
Among the seamstresses there are some who say that the passage in the terminal this morning was without any problems, and they were not taken into the inspection rooms at the side. One of them, however, said angrily that she was delayed for an hour.
In the lower parking lot there are still no cars. Neither have the trucks appeared in a queue. But the trays of eggs are already on the asphalt path waiting to go through in the sun.
The people whom we usually meet with at this CP report that the new CP at Mevo Dotan is full of delays and is very upsetting. The people who let through there every day can be delayed all of a sudden. It seems that the soldiers do not work according to clear rules.
0700-0725 Shaked CP
A tractor and about 10 people are waiting to go through on the Tura (territories] side.
On the side of the seamline zone two people are standing. The soldiers let people through alternating the sides. For at least two weeks they have not been taking people into the checking room and the soldiers "clerks" meet the people under the sunshade.
A taxi from here to Barta'a costs ten Shekels.
0730 - 0815 Reihan CP
The traffic is now thicker. A commerical vehicle is waiting. The eggs are still waiting. Private cars operating like taxis enter and leave. People in groups come down from the bridge opposte Zebda to the CP on their way to Barta'a or to Israel.
Until the hour of 0815, hundreds of people did not go through the CP, especially from the West Bank to the seamline zone, because they have no permits of passage -- and the reasons are all the kinds of superfluous ones that there always are.
יום ב' 23.7.07, בוקר
Translation: Devorah K.
05:30 Rihan-Barta'a CP
It is early. There is not a single vehicle in the upper parking lot on the side of the seamline zone.
The CP is still closed. We wait for the manning of the positions. 05:40 - they open the vehicle CP and the terminal.
About 20 laborers are waiting near the gate on the side of the Palestinian parking lot. About 25 women seamstresses are sitting and waiting on the stones at the side. When the gate opens, the men are swallowed into the terminal, and after them, the women. More men and women, who keep arriving, enter immediately.
Men who are not inspected in the rooms begin to leave after less than 10 minutes. Women begin to come out about 10 minutes after that.
At the vehicle CP the cars are inspected by fours. The dog does its work. The first quartet of cars that entered when the CP was opened, leave for the seamline zone after 18 minutes. Two loaded pickup trucks and two private cars advance for inspection.
06:30 - We drive to the A'anin CP. Many cars are now waiting for passengers in the upper parking lot. Laborers and seamstresses are waiting for those who were taken into rooms for further inspection.
06:40 - A'anin CP
The CP is open. It opened at 06:00.
A few people and three tractors go through. We are told that about 70 people are waiting.
A man goes through with his two Israeli sons. Their mother is a resident of Umm el Fahm and he is not allowed to enter Israel because his brother killed a resident of A'anin in a local fight.
07:15 - A soldier keeps us at a distance from the gate. He says that another 30 people are waiting. The soldier says that all those with permits who arrived by 06:45 are going through. The others are 'late' and even though the CP is still open, they will not be allowed to go through.
07:20 - We left before they closed the CP.
07:25 Shaked-Tura CP
About 10 people are waiting on the Palestinian side. Two taxis go through from the seamline zone to the West Bank. The inspection hut is not operating. The soldiers do the inspection in the shade of a khaki sunshade. Anna asks to see the documents of a man who is not allowed to go through. The ultimate threat works: ' No one will go through until you get away from the gate!' In the end, the man passes the documents to us with one of the people who do go through. A few young boys and girls go through to the West Bank with school books. There are summer courses in the schools in Tura and in Ya'abed.
08:25 Rihan - Barta'a CP
There are many cars waiting in the upper parking lot. We went down through the sleeve to the terminal entrance. At this time, mainly tradesmen and their employees from the shops in East Barta'a are going through. Some of them went through 'smoothly' and others were delayed in the inspection rooms. The criteria are not clear either to them or to us. There is relatively a lot of traffic to the West Bank as well. People going from the seamline zone to the West Bank are not taken into the rooms for inspection. A truck loaded with blocks of concrete enters the CP compound. Apparently there are still some empty spaces and slits that can still be sealed with concrete.
09:15 We went down to the Palestinian parking lot. Here, too, there are many cars waiting for passengers. A big family that we saw entering the terminal, now comes out and gets into a car to go to Tubas.
An old woman on a donkey arrives at the CP. A young man accompanies her on foot. She enters the terminal, leaning on a cane and the young man gets on the donkey, and takes the family vehicle back home.
The Rihan - Barta'a CP closes at 22:00 and so does the CP at Mavo-Dotan-Amriha. A man who is a resident of Amriha tells us that he works as a guard in Yaabed until midnight. He has a car, but he cannot go through the Amriha CP at night. When he tries to pass on a dirt road, soldiers stop him and delay him until 04:00. There is a great deal of traffic - military vehicles - at the CP. Maybe this is because of the settlers' invasion of Homesh. This is the first time that we have seen a hummer go through the yellow gate that connects the patrol road to the Palestinian parking lot.
The yellow gate creaked terribly when the soldier opened and closed it.
09:50 we leave. 8 cars are waiting for inspection. 4 are being inspected at the vehicle CP. 5 pickup trucks loaded with many trays of eggs are waiting in the Palestinian parking lot.
יום ד' 18.7.07, בוקר
10:00 At the vehicle's inspection post there are seven cars waiting for passage of one van with personal belongings of four or five passengers, who at this time, go through the terminal.
At the pedestrians inspection post people cross over to both sides, most of whom are women and infants.
After 40 minutes the van is finally out of the checkpoint and arrives at the car park area to pick up three women on their way to Jenin. The driver tells us that it took almost an hour for the inspectors to go over every single item of the passenger's belongings.
Another pickup truck went through. The time of the inspection is kept , half an hour per vehicle.
11:25 - We left.
יום ד' 18.7.07, אחה"צ
יום ג' 17.7.07, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
We expected some ‘action' today - settlers had pledged a huge foray into Chomesh. On the news this morning it was reported that because of the readiness of the army they were postponing the event. In spite of this, apparently this was a cause for unnecessary tension. On the Ariel road west (towards Israel) - just after the crossing to the border - there is a temporary roadblock on the road. Hundreds of cars (belonging to settlers) are held up. This is indeed a rare sight. In contrast Tapuach Junction is quiet. There are no cars held up in either direction. Posters are stuck up on the concrete blocks calling for an incursion into Chomesh today, Tuesday.
As soon as we arrive it becomes obvious that the crossing is blocked in all directions. The soldiers explain to us that there is an ‘explosive device procedure'. There is a suspect car. They point it out: a blue Fiat is parked by the checkpoint at the exit from Nablus. All the Palestinians are moved away. Us too. The soldiers also move away from the centre of the roadblock.
The wait continues. The number of Palestinians rises from moment to moment. Hundreds of people are waiting already. The soldiers tell us: they are waiting for the robot. We try to explain this to the people who crowd around us. It appears that no one believes it. They say "Dahwin" (show off). There is nothing. We, however, think that the soldiers really think that they have found something and they really don't want anyone to get hurt. But no one is convinced by what we say. Everyone who speaks to us - and all the Hebrew speakers take the opportunity to pass the time in heart to heart talks with us commenting philosophically on the general situation - they don't trust the soldiers. They are sure it is some kind of exercise to abuse them.
The crowds grow ever larger. The old, the disabled, women with children in their arms; everyone stands around in the burning sun.
We try to speak to A., the roadblock and to Z., the DCO officer who has arrived. They reply to us politely: they are doing their utmost. We wonder about the efficiency of the I.D.F. Does it really take such a long time for the robot to come???
The robot arrives. Someone (we did not see who) moves the suspect car away a bit, away from the junction. Suddenly the crossing is open. (First of all the question must be asked - why did they not do that earlier???)
There is a mad rush of the young to the turnstile and the rest of the crowd jostles after them. Between the fences leading to the turnstile there is a terrible crush. Hundreds of people run towards the cars, wanting to cross. The soldiers restrain them and order them to get into a queue for the turnstile.
The situation is now such: to get the hundreds, possibly over a thousand, people waiting through the turnstile could take many hours. In the crush, the tension and the heat, the elderly, women and children, the sick; it looks like madness to us. No one is inspecting all these people anyway, so what for? Why shouldn't they all cross via the road and have done with it?
We try to speak to the commander. He insists, "If we allow it we will lose control". We shout, trying to influence him again. The DCO person says to us: let me talk to him.
After a few minutes they announce that the elderly and women with children can cross via the road. Afterwards anyone, men and youngsters, start to cross too. Within about ten minutes the great crowd has crossed. Meanwhile a ‘controlled explosion' is heard from the direction of the suspect car. There was nothing there. Two older, frightened businessmen who were in the car explain to us that it is a hire car and that they tried to convince everyone that there was nothing in it, and they don't understand what it was that raised the soldiers' suspicions anyway. They too are released finally but they are sent back to Nablus. They have no exit permit with a car.
We remain quite stunned and upset by the whole event. Is it possible that all this was only a matter of obtuseness and even stupidity? Was there really no intention to show something to somebody? What is this small-minded syndrome? Even if the commander was convinced that he had to put the ‘explosive procedure' into force - what stopped him from allowing the crowds through by the road after the event? Did he not understand the potential of the anger, bitterness and humiliation that was created there? In the tension created could there not easily have been a violent incident which could have ended in disaster?
On the way back, at Jit Junction, military and police roadblocks await the settlers who might reach Chomesh. However, happily, we don't see any sign of them. They will surely turn up when the army is not ready for them.
יום א' 15.7.07, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
There are seven vehicles from the west to the east and thirty from the direction of Huwwara.
There is no roadblock at Yitzhar Junction.
There is no queue of vehicles. There are about seven people at the roadblock and another few pedestrians who are making their way there.
Quiet, no queue at entrance to village, There are about 8 lorries at the exit.
The roadblock commander, T., comes over to us and asks us to leave the roadblock. In fact we are only permitted to stand at the edge of the roadblock, by the taxi car park, but he ‘has our interests at heart’ and is ready to allow us to stand in the shade of the lock-up. When we protested and told him the story of the white line, which in any case is shifted from time to time so that we are further and further away from the roadblock, it is our line and it is our right to stand on it, he contacted the Battalion C.O. who confirmed that we are to remain in the area at the edge of the car park. The army also has an explanation of our expulsion: “The roadblock must be sterile.” (We, apparently, contaminate it.) In addition T., demanded that we do not speak to the soldiers and, when necessary, speak only to him.
A Canadian woman from the ISM organisation approaches us, she has heard about us, and admires our activities. She helps out in a kindergarten in Nablus.
There is a long queue into Nablus. About 50 people are crowded around the turnstile into the town. The turnstile holds them up. What is the turnstile for? We ask T., this question. He explains that it is one way only and does not permit anyone to exit from Nablus. When we raise the possibility that, if someone wants to, they can sneak in through the area beside the turnstile he answers: anyone doing so can expect, according to army orders, to be shot.
There are about 15 – 20 in the queue to leave Nablus.
The x-ray machine is in place.
A young woman, with a baby in a buggy, who is on her way to Nablus approaches the soldiers and requests permission to cross on the east side of the roadblock. T., and another soldier know a bit of Arabic, but not enough to understand her, and she asks and pleads for quite a time, until it turns out that she cannot get the buggy through the turnstile. She is permitted to cross by the side of the roadblock.
A woman with a small child who has an injured hand also asks if she can cross without going through the turnstile. By the time we found a translator who could understand what she wants the queue at the turnstile had lessened and the Palestinian translator advised her to go back and cross via the turnstile.
A South African from a World Church Organisation waits for some colleagues who are due to get here. They are going to Kafer Yanun where they will stay for a few weeks. Later the rest of the group arrives and they praise our work for the Palestinians.
A young man is put in the cell and released within a few minutes.
9:00 a.m. approximately
A Military Policewoman checks a pregnant woman in the inspection booth for two minutes and she then leaves.
A man from Beit Fuqa approaches us; his son is a student in Nablus and crosses the roadblock daily on his way to his studies. Yesterday his I.D. card was mislaid at the roadblock. He has a permit from the DCO which states that ‘his document was lost by soldiers at the roadblock’. The roadblock commander does not deny this. The father has come to find out whether, meanwhile, the document has been found. It has not been found and he is concerned that his son will suffer hardships on his way to his studies even though he has the above permit as well as a photocopy of his I.D. card. T., advises him to go to the DCO again to apply for a new I.D. card and assures him that with the permit his son will have no problem crossing the roadblock. What is going on here: the soldiers lost the document and the father has to run around to get a new one. Will the army reimburse him for the cost of a new document?
We leave the roadblock.
There are no vehicles at the roadblock.