Beit Iba, Shave Shomron, Sun 17.8.08, Afternoon
Today, we got the impression that perhaps everyone should relax about the checkpoints, about the Occupation, because few have a clue as to what's really going on. If that's the case, and that seemed to be the case on our monitoring today, why not relax the rules a little? That's indeed what many soldiers appeared to be doing on this hot, sultry summer day. And yet, and here's the rub, the Occupation, in summer heat or winter frost, differentiates not at all the suffering of Palestinians who, day in day out, are subject to the moods and whims of the Occupier.
14:30 Shavei Shomron
A steady stream of traffic, quite a few private Palestinian cars and a few trucks, make their way past the recently reopened checkpoint outside the settlement of Shavei Shomron. The gate is wide open, and we take this opportunity of seeing for ourselves something of the world on the other side. A gently rolling road in lovely countryside, but above, always the perimeter fence of the settlement. After a couple of kilometers we head back, but soldiers, if any are around, or if any are in the lookout tower above, take not the slightest notice of us, or anybody else.
15:15 Beit Iba
Six to eight large trucks are lined up trying to enter Nablus. It looks as if there's a hold up of some kind at the vehicle checking area, and, in fact, many IDs of drivers are taken from them and carried over to the central checking area. One lone Military Police woman shouts the numbers from the vehicle checking area to her colleagues inside the booth. She's alone in doing this, however. Within twenty five minutes, there is no more line into Nablus, and other than a couple of buses, there is little traffic from inside the city.
At the checking booth for pedestrians to go into Nablus, the DCO representative checks IDs as any ordinary soldier. No, not quite true, since he takes time out to chat with the visitors and usually beckons pedestrians to come forward and rarely bothers to look at their IDs. Not so when his replacement, a sergeant, takes over. This soldier has a mind of his own, checks plastic bags of women, matches every ID against his Shabak (General Security Services) list and often brings individual IDs over to the central checking booth to be checked on the computer. No relaxation here!
The lines of young men behind the two working turnstiles are long, at least 20 in each lane. But the "fast" lane, full of women and small children, moves quickly. No woman's ID is checked, just IDs of men. Some are sent back to take their turn in the turnstile lanes. Again, no relaxation of rules here! The commander is laid back in the extreme, evidently allowing the soldiers to do exactly what they seem fit.