Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 8.6.08, Afternoon
Translation: Tal H.
Tapuach Za'tara Junction Checkpoint 15:15
Shooting post still manned by single soldier in the middle of the roundabout, facing south. Very few vehicles at junction.
Burin/Yitzhar-Huwwara Junction Checkpoint - manned but no vehicles waiting.
Huwwara Checkpoint 15:30
Upon our arrival at the checkpoint, or about 100 meters before we actually got there, "life freeze" state is noted: a long long line of Nablus-bound service taxis, private cars and buses extends back, from the checkpoint compound, a huge crowd of people waiting nearby, about half an hour already, they say. Soldiers all around, a police jeep with Border Patrolmen pushing the crowd back, back, back and further back in fluent Arabic. Talk spreads of an explosive charge. On the other hand, we see Palestinians stuck inside the taxi-park and the vendors there, going neither back nor forward, nowhere.
15:40 Things seem to free up a bit for a moment as the crowd streams towards the entrance, only to be pushed back again towards the taxi park.
Two women fighters stand in the entrance lane to the taxi park: one picking her nose, the other pointing her rifle and repeating in a lilting voice, "Get back, get back..."
The soldiers urge people to move forward, then back, then forward and back again, no explanations given, as finally the crack of a controlled explosion resonates from behind a clump of trees across the road (beneath the settler quarry on the slope, under the Jews- and Samaritans-only road ascending the hill to Har Beracha colony).
Explosion? A little blast. The same as usually resounds after the police robot has checked an unidentified object left in a city junction, and the police hooks it up with detonators, keep away the bystanders and blow it up to make sure.
To be continued below.
As we arrived, we saw a boy who looked about 16-17 years old, standing blindfolded, hands tied and taken into an army jeep standing at the entrance to the checkpoint compound. There he would stay until driven away at 4:30 p.m.
We assume this was the 'terrorist' in whose belongings the pipe bombs were found, reported on Israeli news at 4:50 pm.
16:15 Hundreds of people now hurriedly streaming in both directions in and out of the checkpoint, the soldiers speeding up the process. At least the special side line for women children and elderly is speedy and empties relatively soon.
At 16:20 the checkpoint commander orders his men to resume normal inspection procedure, and the extra officer on the spot leaves. The Military Policewomen's habitual shrieks "Move baaaaack!!!" are resumed as well, and the crowding in the men's waiting lines behind the turnstiles full to bursting, as usual at peak hours.
Note that throughout the 'life freeze' at the checkpoint until the controlled blast, the soldiers really behaved as though the charge is live, stressed, pushing the Palestinians back and further and further back, while the Palestinians don't believe another word, convinced this is all a show, all of it, all of them. Literally. And as we hear the checked blast, and see the little cloud of smoke rising from behind the trees...
"About an hour later", reports Judit, "I climbed up to look for the spot where this blast had taken place. First among the thorns where I assumed I would detect signs of fire, a hole in the ground, something - but found nothing at all. I checked closely, walked around, I even used binoculars - until I climbed a bit further and got to the concrete wall of what seemed like a 'security pit', under the road going up to Har Beracha, and there I saw a spot with some gray dust, and five little sections of a metal pipe, about 10 centimeters long each, dusty, looking like crooked weenies, not a trace of gunpowder, or a hole in the ground or any other sign of a veritable explosion, not a stone out of place."
Naturally we don't pretend to know anything about explosives. Still, reason has it that the kind reported on by the army would leave some noticeable traces, both to ear and eye. The boy in whose belongings the mighty bombs were found was arrested and taken away and on the news he had already been hailed as a full-blooded terrorist.
The present, consistent pace of catching terrorists and dangerous explosives at Huwwara checkpoint (once every two-three weeks?) as in Beit Iba in the past is truly admirable.
Supplying regular terrifying information to news listeners, supplying soldiers with ample practice, and perhaps it's just something we do, like the campfire tall tales that have aged and become somewhat technological. Or perhaps we're dreaming...
Due to car trouble, we had to forego our weekly visit to Beit Furiq Checkpoint and leave Huwwara earlier than usual, around 5:30 pm.