Tulkarem and Qalqiliya, Mon 15.10.07, Morning

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Frances T., Roni Sh. (reporting)Translation: Galia S.

Tulkarm checkpoints

 On our way from Beit Iba to Anabta on road 57 we saw Palestinian cars parked beside the road and people (not many) who were picking olives. We didn't stop. 
 When we arrive, there are no lines both at the entrance and at the exit from Tulkarm. Cars that enter the city are not checked at all, including Israeli cars, and the check at the exit is extremely superficial.
Since last week we haven't been trying to take care of the issue of the expulsion of the taxi drivers from the place where they used to park in the last two years, disturbing nobody. We have also tried to find out who the coffee seller disturbed. The place is quite distant from the checkpoint, there is plenty of parking space and drivers with permits to enter Tulkarm and also to go to Qalqiliya and Ramallah used to come here regularly. Despite the expulsion order, one of the drivers parked his car there, but he said that as soon as he saw a military jeep approaching, he would take off immediately, thus losing his meager earning.
The checkpoint commander who approached us and asks if everything is all right answers our question concerning the expulsion of the drivers that the instruction has probably been given by the brigade commander to prevent blocking the junction. When we argue that the junction is far away, he just shrugs. As for olive picking, he says there shouldn't be any problem and, coordinating it with the checkpoint commander, picking should be possible also in the area between the checkpoint and Einav settlement which is on the hill overlooking the checkpoint. He says that these are the instructions he has gotten. 
 – We have meant to leave this quiet and supposedly calm checkpoint when we suddenly see that the junction, 57/557, is totally blocked by cars from all directions as a result of a "rolling" [unannounced mobile] roadblock that has been erected right after the turn to Anabta going to Nablus. It's a sharp turn in an uphill going road, the sight is limited and it is extremely dangerous. Without warning, a junction can just be blocked…
My phone call to the IDF Humanitarian Center is answered with the words "We'll try to find out".
All of a sudden, an Israeli car arrives, storming forward and passing dangerously Palestinian cars, and parks between the two Hummer vehicles. Two "Blue and White" women [right wing activists] get out… The inspections stop because the soldiers have to enjoy the refreshments brought to them and in the meantime the jam at the junction is getting worse. Do you remember that the coffee seller has been expelled because he is causing a blockage at the junction?
Frances, who has not yet experienced an encounter with the Blue and White women, goes towards the soldiers, followed immediately by these women, of course. Since she speaks English with them, they are somewhat milder. Nevertheless, she is getting a long history lesson from them, while I am waiting in the car, trying to call Tami and the Center about the blockage at the junction. 
10:30 – The rolling roadblock is still in effect when we leave.
 Jubara checkpoint
The soldiers demand that we show them our ID cards and open the trunk of the car, although they can see, of course, who we are. At the Flowers Gate the soldiers ask why we didn't bring them cakes like you know who … 
 Entering from the direction of Qalqiliya is smooth without inspections. There is a line of 10-20 cars coming from the direction of Tulkarm. Documents are checked randomly. According to our check, it takes a bus 15 minutes of waiting at the checkpoint and then it left without inspection. 
11:15 – We leave.