'Anabta, Ar-Ras, Azzun, Beit Iba, Eyal, Jit, Thu 17.1.08, Afternoon
There were no group restrictions for passage through the checkpoints.
14:15-14:25 – Jubara – Gate 753 and Ar-Ras CP
At gate 753 we find a Palestinian from the village of Farah in the Jiftlik being detained. His work permit had expired on the 6th of January, and a new permit had not yet been issued. He had a magnetic card and was carrying his expired permit. He told us, when we arrived, that he had been waiting for two hours (this was confirmed by the taxi drivers who were waiting at the checkpoint and had asked us to help him). Despite our calls to the humanitarian hotline the man was only released at 15:45, after waiting for five hours and after the soldiers confiscated his expired work permit.
At the Ar-Ras checkpoint the northbound heading cars (towards Tulkarm) are being let through. The southbound heading cars are being checked randomly, according to the soldiers’ discrimination, since some are passing through without interruption and others are stopped and searched. We did not see ID checks. We left the CP quickly, since there was no line. There is a pothole on the road from the south; it deepens with every rain. There is no way for Palestinian cars that arrive at the checkpoint to avoid the pothole.
14:35-14:45 ‘Anabta CP. Most of the cars get through without being examined. There is no line. At the parking lot a merchant, whose work permit was revoked after he refused to cooperate with the GSS, approaches us. The man serves as a representative of a few Israeli companies and cannot operate his business without a permit. He told us that when he returned from Jordan he was stopped by the GSS who then asked him to work with them. He outrightly refused and his permit was revoked on the spot. We referred him to Sylvia.
15:15 Beit-Iba. After talking to the taxi drivers we learn that there is no checkpoint in El-Bidan. There is quite a large number of pedestrians and vehicles. There are 13 vehicles waiting to enter Nablus; there are 10 vehicles waiting to exit.
The last car gets through the CP after 58 minutes!
15:21 – there are 6 vehicles waiting in line. The last one got through within 8 minutes. On the other a truck carrying gas tanks had to wait for 9 minutes.
There are 90 pedestrians waiting to get through. There is one detainee in the holding pen. According to the commanding officer they are waiting for instructions from the brigade command. However, 2 minutes later he was released. There are two lines: one is for young men and the other is for women, older men and people with special permits. In the checkpoint we see a poster issued by the Nablus DCL; it lists 40 different types of permits (not all permits are issued by the army; some are issued by the PA or other humanitarian organizations that enable their carrier to stand in the humanitarian line). This poster is a strong example of the bureaucracy of the occupation. Pedestrians entering Nablus are not checked.
A dog is checking packages that are carried through by a porter. The packages are lying on the road.
15:24-15:27 – the dog is checking the cabin of a little truck. He climbs on the seat, while the driver stands outside.
15:32-15:49 – 17 minutes! This is how long it took the soldiers to check a bus leaving Nablus. A soldier got on the bus and checked identification cards. One student did not have and ID and showed him her student card. Another woman was wearing a veil and a military policewoman was called in to examine her. When the soldier asked the policewoman to hurry, she responded by asking “what for?” When the soldier told her that they had been sitting in the bus for half an hour, she answered: “what do I care. They can wait for an hour or two. Why should I have to run?”
It takes 20 minutes to get through the left lane. The right lane takes 40 minutes. The reason for this is that the soldier in the left lane speaks Arabic; he is quick and examines people in groups of five or six. At the time a border policewoman is standing inside checking booth and examining the identification cards and observing the metal detector (it is unclear why it is necessary to use a metal detector after being patted down). At the other line there is no one outside the booth; there is a military policeman inside who is checking bags, ID’s and the metal detector.
Most of the people go through the humanitarian line. We counted the total number of people who went through in all lines in half an hour – 205. Twice we were approached by people who told us that the soldiers only hurried up when we were there, and that once we left they would drop the pace.
For about 15 minutes almost all checks were stopped. We saw the commander talking to the soldiers at the vehicle crossing; it must be some sort of debriefing. At 16:05 they resumed passage. We checked passage times again: the left line – 14 minutes, the right line – 31 minutes. 178 people got through in half an hour.
16:02 – there are no vehicles trying to enter Nablus. There are 11 cars waiting to exit. By the time we left at 16:30 the last car in the line had moved up to the number five slot. That is an approximately 25 minute wait to get through.
16:19 – a taxi that was leaving Nablus ran over spikes that were left on the road. We did not see any of the soldiers apologizing.
16:06-16:06 – the dog searches the gas truck. According to the driver he passes through the checkpoint about two times a day and is searched about once a month. Today he is searched, and by a dog!
16:35 – the line leading in Nablus has 8 cars in it. There are about 20 pedestrians waiting to get through. We leave.
16:40 Jit Junction – no checkpoint
16:43 – El-Pondok. There is work going on to replace a damaged water line. The water line was damaged by army bulldozers who erected dirt mounts about a month ago.
16:45 – Azzun – the entrance from road 55 is open.
17:00 Habala Gate (1393) –the gate is located past a number of greenhouses along route 55 (one of these belongs to Omar, whose license has recently been revoked). A herd of sheep returns from pasture and passes through the gate. The soldiers tell us that the gate is open until 18:15 (apparently from 16:30 in addition to an hour in the afternoon and two hours in the morning). We asked the soldiers whether the residents of Habala or of near by villages can return from work through this gate instead of through the Eyal CP. They tell us that only those whose permit lists the number of the gate can cross here. If someone leaving nearby arrives they call the DCL to ask for instructions.
While we were standing there 2-3 people passed through the gate.