Beit Iba, Jit, Qalqiliya, Thu 31.1.08, Afternoon

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Dafna Banai, Yfat Doron (reporting) Guest: Rachael L.

 15:56 Beit Iba. Above Nablus, at the top of the hills, snow can be seen. We are told today is an official 'snow day', so people remained at home. Also a strike is held today by the Palestinian authority. This explains the sparse number of people seen today at the checkpoint. Those who do pass, are required to do so under tall metal detectors, which beep constantly, indirectly causing people to take off overcoats, shirts, belts, shoes… the horrible sound just seems to add to the usual gloom. The soldiers are checking: bags, permits, IDs, luggage compartments, faces, reliability.A ten year old child approaches the soldiers holding up a document. He wishes to pass through to Nablus. The soldiers do not speak his language and do not look not at the document. One of them leans against another and smiles a cruel smile- 'mamnua' he says. (Access denied). The child turns and leaves.The soldiers check the cars slowly. Two of them are joking with one of the drivers and another joins them, glancing at me occasionally. Is he thinking that I read through the lie? I wonder.

17:39 Jit. No checkpoints at the moment..18:00. Qalqiliya. Many people are waiting in their cars at the only entrance to Qalqiliya (the town is surrounded by a wall). The drivers at the beginning of the queue say they've been waiting for 40 minutes.' It's like this every day', one of them says. (Other MW observations confirm this). There are about 40 cars waiting at one end, and 13 at the other. It is dark. These are people waiting to return to their homes at the end of a working day. The soldiers are definitely checking faster since our arrival. (We spied on them before they could see us). Dafna called the Qalqiliya DCO to complain about the long wait, and was told they will try to speed things up.

We left at 18:22.