Beit Iba, Jit, Sun 24.2.08, Afternoon
13:53 – Jit Checkpoint unmanned.
14:20 Beit Iba
The ears are the first to warn: a deafening series of beeps from the metal detectors positioned at the exit from Nablus. A look around is confusing for it seems that we are in a dressing room without walls: young men on every side putting on jackets, lacing shoes, straightening socks and threading belts. The women are passing in what the army calls “the humanitarian line,” after which they will also pass through the “dressing room” and be exposed to the same scenes.
Two young men are in the detainee hut. The soldiers claim that they tried to bypass the checkpoint. The checkpoint commander says “I brought them in myself.” They will be detained for three hours according to the “holy” practices of the soldiery.
Two soldiers jump for joy, race towards the kiosk and disappear behind it: they were sent to hunt people bypassing the checkpoint. Apparently the occupants of one of the many IDF positions notice movement between the hills, and send soldiers on a hunt. Twenty minutes later they return from the path coming down from Kosin – empty handed.
A few holders of medical permits, who tried to pass in the humanitarian line, were rejected while we were there. The DCO officer who was present did not intervene or voice his view in any of the cases.
A young man carrying a plastic bag of small metal parts was also sent back because “it is forbidden to transfer car parts…”
The young Palestinians are taken down from vehicles and sent to stand in one of the two lines of scores of youngsters like them.
14:55 – the DCO officer and the commander, Yoni, go together to drive away the peddlers from the other side of the checkpoint.
The behaviour of this commander is noteworthy. He bursts out from time to time at Palestinians who ask his help. In crude language he orders them not to talk to us, to go back to the line, and so on… Apart from that he has an especially disgusting habit of a patronizing pat on the back to transients: old timers and children.
The soldiers responsible for checking vehicles are working slowly and obviously are not concentrating on their task. The attitude is as usual overlording. They check some vehicles thoroughly, raising the back seats, the glove compartments, and so on.
In one case a man with obvious signs of mental illness tries to persuade the commander to let him pass down the humanitarian line. The commander shoves him back and holds a 15 minute conversation with him, but adamantly refuses to let the man pass.
A woman soldier has the duty of checking the men’s bags while another soldier stands behind her with rifle pointed. The woman leaves her post and goes to chat with other soldiers. Meanwhile the bags are checked at the station that inspects IDs, and the process delays the check even more.
16:03 – we leave.