Beit Furik, Huwwara, Jit, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 10.4.08, Afternoon
Za'tara/Tapuach Intersection CP 2:03PM -
4 vehicles on line from the north, one vehicle on line from the east, no checking of vehicles from the south.
Huwwara (2:10PM-3:56PM and 4:39PM-4:52PM)
Thursday afternoons is a very busy time at Huwwara CP. The university students that study in Nablus return home for the week-end. Today was no exception. When we arrived at 2:10PM there were more than 100 pedestrians waiting on line to Nablus. By 4:39PM there were over 150. There was a steady of flow of pedestrians into Nablus.
There was a steady line of 5 - 8 vehicles waiting to enter Nablus and an unknown line of vehicles leaving Nablus (on our return from Beit Furik at 4:39PM we saw 12 on line). The parking lot was packed with taxis and mini buses. Pedestrians were waiting for rides, heading for the entrance to Nablus, and waiting for friends and family who were still stuck on line. One woman stood rocking her crying baby, who looked less then a month old, in her arms. Next to her were about 5 packages. It was hot out and she and the baby were dressed too warmly. I wondered how long she'd have to wait. There were vendors selling vegetables, plants, sunglasses, drinks and cooked food.
The soldiers were not shouting today. Second Lieutenant P. was the commanding officer and T. was the officer from the DCO. We were allowed to move around freely and the Palestinians who were waiting for friends were allowed to sit in the shaded area that was once used for detainees. A young man who asked to go through the side line reserved for older people and woman was allowed through because he was on his way to a wedding. The sun glass vendor was allowed to enter the CP and go to the Nablus side to sell his wares. The vendors told us that today the soldiers did not chase them away but that yesterday was a very difficult day.
The side line (for women and older people) was functioning the whole time. When every one was checked one by one about 80 pedestrians went by in 10 minutes (2:27PM - 2:37PM). When things got too crowded, women were allowed through without being checked and then 45 pedestrians passed through in a minute! (3:00PM - 3:01PM)
The young men were waiting in 3 lines. Each line had it's own checking booth. In one minute about 3 young men would pass through the final exit turnstile. (From 2:23PM - 2:43PM, 72 young men. From 3:04PM to 3:34 PM, 94 young men.) One of the exceptions that I saw was a young man with a small piece of luggage. It took 8 minutes to check him and his parcel. We were told by people passing that the wait was about an hour.
The checking time of vehicles coming from Nablus took as long as 13 minutes and as short as 2 minutes with the average around 5 minutes. (2:27 - 2:32, 2:33 -2:35, 2:35 -2:37, 2:37 -2:42, 3:25 - 3:32, 3:32 - 3:45, 3:45 - 3:53) This means that if there were 12 cars on line as we saw at 4:39PM, the wait was at least an hour.
There was no x-ray truck checking luggage. Vehicles had to drop off their passengers about 50 meters from the checking booth and the driver had to advance closer with the vehicle. After the vehicle was checked, each passenger was told to come one by one. The passenger had to remove his jacket and do a spin around and his packages were examined.
The vehicles entering Nablus took about a minute to check. From 2:12PM to 2:23PM
5 vehicles were checked. From 2:44PM to 2:53PM, 8 vehicles were checked. The soldier checking vehicles prevented a few drivers from entering with their vehicles but when these drivers were able to get the attention of the DCO officer, they were allowed in. Unfortunately the DCO officer was no longer there when there was the greatest pressure after 4:00PM.
The soldier checking the vehicles entering Nablus saw Nadim (our driver who) standing around and told him to leave. Nadim ignored him until the soldier told him he better move or he would break his head open. At that point Nadim answered back and told him he was part of MW. A few minutes later the soldier came to ask me if the Arab man in the tailored shirt was with us. Nadim, as usual, was able to help a few Palestinians who were not allowed into Nablus with their vehicles by translating for them or directing them to the DCO officer.
There were 2 detainees. One arrived at 3:04PM and was locked in the detainee cell. The soldier told us he was a wanted man. The detainee told us he is always stopped at checkpoints and he is usually released within one to three hours. We called the Moked to report the incident. When we returned from Beit Furik at 4:39PM he was no longer in the detainment cell. However, there was another young man in the cell but he was not locked in. He had his arm in a sling. He did not know why he was being held. He said he wanted to pass through the side line since he had just come from the hospital but the soldier there told him to go to the end of the regular line. When he tried to argue he was told either to go to the end of the line or to the "hole" (the detainment cell). I went to look for Officer P. but by the time I caught his eye, he was already releasing the young man.
There was a group of about 20 army psychologists ("Kabanim") who were getting a tour of the CP. They came to observe the tension under which the soldiers must work.
Beit Furik 4:01PM - 4:31PM
The Beit Furik CP was not very crowded. For the half hour we were there, there remained a constant line of about 3 to 4 vehicles waiting to leave Nablus. From time to time there were vehicles from Beit Furik. The check of each vehicle, from either direction, took about a minute. Only one direction could be checked at a time.
From time to time there would be about 3 or 4 pedestrians who arrived from Beit Furik to the CP on their way to Nablus. Sometimes they had to wait for a few minutes before the soldiers noticed them. There was a constant line of about 10 pedestrians from Nablus. There was a separate turnstile for men and women in that direction.
The soldiers paid no attention to us and we watched from a distance.
Not manned by soldiers