'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 19.5.09, Afternoon

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Ronen B. (guest), Riva B., Nur B. (reporting and photographing)

Translator:  Charles K.

We saw signs today at all the hitchhiking locations that read "Netanyahu:  You haven't a mandate for concessions."

15:30  Shomron Gate, entering Palestine.

14:00  Zeita.  A police car carrying policemen is parked next to the roadblock.

14:10  Za'tara (Tapuach). 
One vehicle from the west, none from the north. 
There's a police car here as well.

14:20  Awarta.  A vehicle is being inspected; two others are waiting.

14:30  Beit Furik. 
Vehicles are selected randomly for inspection.  The structure through which pedestrians used to go through has been dismantled almost completely.

Near Yitamar, to the left of the road when you come from the east, a fenced area (the fence looks new to us) and a flag.  White, not dusty, unstained and definitely new.

14:50  Huwwara. 
Pedestrian crossing - three inspection booths, and one extra - which the soldiers call "humanitarian," for women and men older than 45 - are open.  The men pass through metal detectors, come to the booth, show their ID card.  On the other side of the checkpoint they put their belts and watches back on.  The checkpoint is almost empty (because it's now easier to go through Deir Sharaf in a vehicle - vehicles there are inspected randomly), and because students have no classes during exams).

A journalist for Palestinian TV comes over to ask why teachers and physicians are allowed to use the "humanitarian" lane, but not journalists.

Vehicle lanes - A police car is parked near two exit booths from Nablus.  A policeman helps the soldiers with inspections.  About 10 cars on line (one goes through, another joins the line, so it remains the same length).  Passengers wait some distance from the booth and come near only after the driver has been checked.  They're inspected (they lift their shirts, roll up their pants legs and turn around), handbags go through the x-ray machine.

The booth at the entrance to Nablus is manned, but vehicles go through without stopping.

Ronen, our guests, is particularly surprised by the calm atmosphere at the checkpoint, "No one here is angry." 

The market, with cold water, coffee and vegetable stands, shows how the checkpoint fits in with the daily routine.  "It's terrible," he says.

16:05  Za'tara (Tapuach). 12 vehicles on line from the north, none from the west.

16:10  Zeita. 
We stopped to talk with some of the villagers.  They say parking isn't allowed next to the checkpoint on the side near the road.  Vehicle owners were taken to the Ariel police station and fined.  By the side of the roadblock, where villagers improvised a path through the boulders into the village, a brick wall is under construction.  The distances between the concrete cubes have been increased, apparently to make it easier to climb on them.  The villagers assume they're being watched from one of the nearby guard towers, because as soon as a vehicle parks next to the roadblock the police arrive.

We should remember that a year an a half ago the residents of Zeita arose one morning to discover that the main road into the village was blocked by concrete barriers.  One of the villagers told us that once, into order to get to Marda, the neighboring village, he had to cross the road, walk about 200 meters and there he was.  Today he has to drive through Jama'in, onto Route 60 near Huwwara, continue to Za'tara junction, go through the checkpoint there, drive a little on the road, pass by Zeita, his own village, from where he started, continue another 200 meters and reach Marda.

16:35  Shomron Gate - we returned to Israel.