Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 6.1.08, Morning

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Yael B., Ditzah Y. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translation: Rachel B.

Zeita: 7:40 AM

Cement blocks are blocking the road.

Za'tara: 7:45 AM

There are 16 vehicles and a bus approaching from the west. The processing through the checkpoint is fairly fast.

From the north: a station wagon taxi that had come from Jenin is parked here.  The driver says that he arrived a quarter of an hour ago and the car keys were taken away from him.  According to the checkpoint commander there was wanted suspect in the taxi.  The other passengers are being detained on suspicion that they might have assisted him in some way.

There are three checking post.

Another station wagon arrives at the special investigation area.  The passengers are taken out of the car. One passenger's ID card is taken for examination.  After a minute the ID card is returned and the car continues on its way.

8:10 AM: A truck driver from Tul Karem who is transporting milk to the hospital in Salfit is not permitted to continue on his way.  It turns out that there is a military operation of some sort in process at Salfit now, and the road to the town is closed.  The driver has all the necessary permits to go through.  At the Za'tara checkpoint he was allowed to go through but at the impromptu checkpoint {further up the road} he was told to return to Za'tara.  Here he was given permission to go through and he arrived again at the impromptu checkpoint and, again, has returned to Za'tara.  He told us that he is in touch with the IDF Humanitarian Center.  We called them too and were told that the matter is being addressed.

8:45 AM:

We traveled towards Salfit.  At the exit for Za'tara we encountered an impromptu checkpoint - 2 soldiers stationed there who know about the truck and let us pass on.  Further along the road, about one kilometer further up, there are trucks and an army ambulance stationed by the road - there is a military operation going on  in the town. The soldiers whom we approach tell us that there is absolutely no way to get through to Salfit as long as the operation is in process, regardless of it being milk for the hospital which may spoil because of the delay in delivery.  While we try to figure out what else we can do, the soldiers report to us that the military operation is concluded and they estimate the truck will be allowed to go through within a half hour.

8:55 AM

We return to Za'tara.  The taxi has meanwhile been released.  The "wanted suspect" is sitting in one of the cement holding pens that are scattered around.  The commander prevents us from approaching him.

9:00 AM

The "wanted suspect" had been released.

9:05 AM

We ask the checkpoint commander to be in touch with the soldiers at the Salfit checkpoint in order to be able to tell the truck driver when he can go through.  The commander, indeed, calls the headquarters as we watch, and we are promised that they will inform him as soon as it's possible to pass through.

We leave the checkpoint.  On our way to Huwwara we count 16 vehicles.  Later in the day we call the truck driver with the milk who tells us that he was permitted to go through about a half hour after we had left.

Beit Furik: 9:25 AM

There are about 30 cars waiting.  The drivers mill around, angry.  Among them, they say, are drivers who have been waiting since 6:00 AM.  The line of cars does not move.

The drivers tell us that two drivers who lost their patience tried to go through the "Apartheid road" (a road only Israeli vehicles may use) but when they saw that the soldiers detected them, they escaped heading back towards Beit Furik.  An army Hummer chased them. In our presence, one of the drivers called his home and told us that his three and a half year old daughter told him that the soldiers are throwing stones at his car which is parked next to the house, and that she is scared.  From what we hear from other drivers, it appears that perhaps the soldiers threw smoke grenades in the village. We called E. from the District Coordinating Office.  He promised to send a representative to investigate within 5-8 minutes..

9:35 AM

R. from the District Coordinating Office arrived.  He paused next to the drivers and listened to their complaints and then continued towards the checkpoint.  We followed him  He talked to the checkpoint commander. We are barred from approaching close enough {to hear what's going on} on account of the "white line" that defines our rights, or, more precisely, our lack of rights at the checkpoint.  We were favorably impresses when R. approached us (per our request) and talked to us.  The processing of cars is slowed down even more.

9:50 AM

A Jordanian man asks for our help.  He does not speak either Hebrew or English, and we send him to R. 
who tells him to stand in the line for entry into Nablus. We keep an eye on him.

10:50 AM

The Jordanian man is checked and sent to the holding pen.  R. tells us it's for further checking.  We discover that there are 2  other people in the holding pen with a soldier stationed to guard them.  We are unable to get close to them.

10:10 AM

A driver who arrived at the checkpoint was required to unload everything in his truck which is piled with cardboard boxes and containers.  It's not clear to us what is in them.  For about 10-15 minutes he unloads, getting about half the contents of the truck off. Then we see him talking on the phone. Perhaps the soldier standing next to him gave him permission to do this for some reason.  During the whole conversation, which lasted about 5 minutes, another soldier stands there with his gun aimed  on the driver.  When the driver finished his phone call he was not required to unload the rest of the truck and now had to reload by himself everything he had taken off.

10:30 AM

We leave the checkpoint and go to Huwwara.

Huwwara: 10:35 AM

There are about 30-40 people at the turnstiles.  Very few cars in either direction.  X - Ray machine is present. The District Coordinating Office representative, A. is here, too.  There is a station wagon with an "Mbc Press" crew that has been given permission to enter Nablus.  They hold off because they want to interview us.  Yael explains to them about MachsomWatch.  The interview will be broadcast on Korean television.

10:50 AM

We leave the checkpoint,