Beit Iba, Jit, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 27.2.08, Afternoon
. Natanya translating.
We had a visitor so we used the visit to drive only on Israeli roadsalong the Shomron crossing so as to show her the different checkpoints, gates and blockades with which the army closes the roads leading to Palestinian villages on the West Bank. We saw cars parked at the dirt blockade next to the industrial area of Barkan and we saw a Palestinian pick-up coming over the hills and rocks in an attempt to bypass the checkpoint. We saw the iron gate at the entrance to the village of Marda which was open and opposite is the gate to Zeita which was closed and next to it private cars on the one side and taxis collecting people on the other. At the checkpoint at the crossing of Za’tara (Tapuach) were 20 cars from north to south,. Because the army is still segregating parts of the West Bank the soldiers did not allow some people to pass .
Jit was not manned.
Checkpoint of Beit Iba 16.00 – 17.15. there is little traffic and most of it exiting Nablus. There were many soldiers as we had come during the changing of a shift but no representative of the DCO. Yoni, a young captain was handling matters strictly and in a very merry way not appropriate to the situation. When I asked who the commander was his reply was "I am the wicked commander." And immediately after that started laughing with his friends and then, as it seemed to calm me added that he was only joking. Afterwards he said that he was a friend of Elisheva Watch and that he speaks the truth and knows a few things. The men were carefully and slowly checked and had to take off both belts and shoes but as they were few a line did not form. The women and children went by the side and were sometimes checked and sometimes their parcels.
Palestinians leaving Nablus said that an hour ago the checkpoint had closed down and there was no passage and now there are three young boys in the detainees’ shed. From where we were standing we could hardly see anything.
Racheli phoned the DCO who said that they had come to the checkpoint with pipe devices. This also the commander told us with pride. He said they had come to kill soldiers but he added this strange information: because they were minors and because they knew that Israelis do not imprison minors he had been informed by the Operations Room that the Palestinian police would come for them. It is hard to believe but this information which we immediately understood to be suspicious was actually an exercise to check the watchfulness of the soldiers or that the boys had come to be caught. But the commander does not question this and disregards our doubts.
We go behind the checkpoint and photograph these young children who are blindfolded and their hands handcuffed behind their backs. Some minutes later I see a military policeman come out of a booth and call two soldiers to come with him to the shed because one of the detainees had removed his blindfold. I go after them and from afar see three tall soldiers standing next to the seated boys. And in this horrible scene I suddenly see one of the soldier tramping with all his force on the feet of the handcuffed boy sitting in the middle. I shouted to the commander that the soldier was beating the boy and he came quickly and moved the soldiers away speaking to them quietly at the side. When he came back I asked if he had seen how the soldier had been beating the boy and he gave me a very angry look and righteously: "I am not interested in those who come to the checkpoint to kill me and my soldiers."
By the way Yoni is interested in the camera which annoys him very much and he says that we are forbidden to photograph and that he can arrest us. He argues and says that we are not nice and that he is shocked at us and demands that we do not speak to the soldiers ( we had not spoken to them) and not to photograph. About half an hour later a jeep arrives with the DCO and the detainees are taken still handcuffed and blindfolded to the jeep. The captain of the DCO and two soldiers seat them on the pavement, gives them water and questions them. He helps each boy get up and takes off the blindfold, asks him some questions, makes notes. At 17.15 a trade vehicle comes from the Nablus and Palestinian soldiers in civilian dress arrive and take the boys back to Nablus.
The captain of the DCO says that they had been involved a few hours ago in a violent brawl at the Watch Square in Nablus where they had wounded someone and run away. Because they were scared of the Palestinian soldiers they preferred to be arrested by the police and had gone to the home of one of them and taken knives, tried to make a pipe device and came to the checkpoint to be arrested. But unluckily because they did not appear on the secret service list and because of the connections between the Israeli and Palestinian police the matter was revealed and now they had been handed over.
By the way while we were waiting to see the end of the story a man passing by said that the boys had wanted to go into an Israeli prison because of the terrible conditions on their side and in that way also to help their families financially. The fighting factions of the West Bank give families of prisoners a certain sum for each year that they spend in jail. He says it can be between 800 to 1000 shekels.