Awarta, Beit Furik, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 27.3.08, Morning

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Esti V, Rahel T, Nava A (reporting); Young guest :Tamar

The last chamsinim (desert winds) have dried the Spring flowers and our hopes for relief.

And today, a startling surprise: young good-looking faces even soften the tough behaviour of checkpoint commanders.

06:20 - police, Border police and civilians in bright flak jackets at Shaar Shomron. More thorough checks than usual also on the facing lane of people leaving the Territories.

The entry to Marda is open, the block at Zeita continues.

06:40 - Zaatra-Tapuah Junction: no cars waiting from the West and few from Huwarra.

On the checkpoint, reservists from the Air Force, friendly and welcoming. There is a dog minder. According to them there is no quarantine or special warning. A third lane opens up whenever there is pressure.

The buses and minibuses directed into the plaza are checked relatively quickly.

07:00 - Beita Junction no military activity.

07:05 - Yitzhar/Burin Checkpoints have been taken off the road, and it seems that a space is being paved for special checks.

Huwwara: we invite the second lieutenant checkpoint commander to explain to Tamar the procedures, and he does so politely and expansively. The DCO rep joins him to add details. Clearly the IDF was again active during the night in Nablus, and possibly this is the reason why so few are coming out of the city.

On site are a telescope and a dog minder, but there are no detaineesinfo-icon. The market is flourishing in the parking lot.

The checkpoint is cleaner than usual. Seems they now employ a number of cleaners.

At the entrance to Nablus there is pressure by the turnstile because of the large number who want to enter the city.

07:45 - Awarta: a short line of trucks in each direction. The soldiers are happy to explain their duties to Tamar, and they allow us to stand wherever we want.

08:15 - Beit Furik: about 14 cars and a few pedestrians waiting to enter the city. Here too the commander is eager to prolong dialogue with Tamar. Though he explained to us that he does not have enough soldiers to open a second lane, he still does so and within a short while the line on all sides vanishes. Now a cleaner is also working at this checkpoint.

Instead of returning to Huwwara, we decide to hop over for a visit to the DCO. The sergeant in the tower stops us and asks us to wait for the commander's permission. The officer arrives accompanied by a male and a female soldier. All are polite and friendly but not prepared to allow us to continue the study tour inside. The officer gave no reasoning as to why the Palestinians are allowed but we are not. Those are the procedures. Try the DCO commander...

We continue along the winding road following the trucks leaving Awarta, and come into the main street of Huwwara. The town is throbbing with activity. In the main street, building and renovation of shops, many people everywhere, no sighting of military vehicles.

09:10 - Zaatra/Tapuah Junction: 60 vehicles waiting. The checkpoint commander apologizes that he has to extract his soldiers for breakfast, so only one lane is working part of the time. He promises to speed up the process as soon as they return from the meal break.

Just beyond Ariel traffic stops and a line forms over a few kilometres.  After about 290 minutes, it starts to flow again. Close to Shaar Shomron we see that the Israel Police are checking a car.  Perhaps that was the reason for the stoppage.

At Shaar Shomron no examination of people entering Israel.