Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 28.7.08, Afternoon

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Riva B., Nur B., Noa P. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translator:  Charles K.

13:25 Shomron Gate -  Increased police presence.  No detaineesinfo-icon.

13:45 - Ariel - Construction continues.

Marda - Both gatesinfo-icon open.

Zeita Jama'in - Closed.  The punishment continues.

13:50  Za'tara.  One truck waiting from the west.  From the north: 15 cars waiting in two lines to go through..

A soldier at the traffic circle, one at the hitchhiking location.

14:05  Huwwara

A long line of cars to enter Nablus.  We counted ten cars.

Two detainees in isolation.  One 20 years old, detained because he went through with a weapons belt, until they found out that he's a Palestinian policeman, and then he was released.  The second, a "bingo," the GSS's daily lucky number; his wife and two children have been waiting for him during the entire time he's been held.  When we arrived they complained that they've been waiting two hours.  T., the DCO representative, told us that they were released in an hour and a half, at most.

The checkpoint is very crowded
The center vehicle lane exiting Nablus is blocked by a red plastic barrier.  Someone hung an Israeli flag on it.  "Flags, flags throughout the land..."

The x-ray vehicle is on site, but - "How sad it is to see an x-ray truck closed down" - the x-ray machine inside broke down two days ago, according to the DCO representative, which requires a much more careful inspection than usual, by hand, of bags and packages.  That, in addition to a new crew of soldiers at the checkpoint, makes passing through much slower.

O., the 2nd lieutenant, goes over to the line of vehicles entering Nablus and succeeds in making it disappear in a relatively short time.  Two women and five young men stand next to the vehicle barrier, arguing with O.  After a few minutes they leave.  We weren't able to discover what it was about.

From there, he runs over to the express lane and gets it flowing.

14:20  An argument among Palestinians next to the entry turnstile to Nablus.  Someone is claiming that his cell phone was stolen and people begin hitting and pushing and crowding around.  The soldiers respond by pointing their weapons and cocking them - as expected, the argument stresses them out.

14:30  Some yells at a guy at the turnstile, "Remove your shoes!  Remove your shoes already!  What's the matter, are you dumb?  Remove your shoes already!"

The express lane sometimes moves quickly and sometimes annoyingly slowly.  The route is blocked by a plastic barrier that only allows people to go through on a diagonal between the wall and where we're standing, women with children/babies/baskets/many bags have trouble getting through the narrow passage open to them.  After a while, the line shifts and moves under the shed.

An elderly man passes by us, saying [in English], "Problem, much problem."

T. comes over every few minutes to help move the lines along - the express line as well as that of the vehicles entering Nablus.

14:40  Four soldiers arrive, one of them a 2nd lieutenant who speaks rudely to his subordinates:  I don't care, get out of here, I mean now.

Passengers in vehicles being checked are asked to lift up their shirts.

14:55  Beit Furik. 
The upper parking lot is empty.  As far as we can see, about ten cars are on line coming from Nablus.  Nine people are waiting at the turnstile to enter Nablus.

The First Sergeant, who introduces himself as the checkpoint commander, greets us in a very hostile manner -  Could you please move over there behind the line?

No, we replied, we have a right to stand here.

He:  I didn't ask you, I told you!  Yalla, scat, go home!  You're annoying me, I don't like looking at you..

Riva:  There are many people I don't like seeing, but that doesn't mean they don't have the right to be where they are.

A second soldier joins the discussion, and tries to convince us:  He's the checkpoint commander, and that's what he decided; you're interfering with our work.

We rebel:  You're the ones interfering with yourselves!  We're standing here quietly, and had no intention of talking to you, but you're the ones who choose to talk to us and pay attention to us.

After the attempt to convince us fails, the checkpoint goes back to operat normally.

An attempt to take photographs gets a response from one of the female MP's:  "What's this - If I'm not mistaken, you're not allowed to photograph military operations ...

Nur says:  We're allowed to photograph contact with civilians.  I'm a law abiding citizen.

The checkpoint commander:  You're a citizen? - You?  You're garbage!  Exchange your ID card for a green one, and live in Palestine!  Some citizen!

Riva:  Palestine is right here.

The commander:  So go live in Nablus!

We note that during this entire time, the checkpoint operated with no delays.

15:45  Huwwara

The isolation cell is empty when we return.  The two detainees who greeted us at the start of our shift were, to our joy, released while we were in Beit Furik.

A religious man, accompanied by a girl about ten years old, argues with the checkpoint commander, and T. translates.  After a few minutes he seems to give up, decides to leave his ID card and turns to go.  He returns, as expected, receives it and drives away.  It turns out that he got tired of the long wait, and tried to bypass the checkpoint through the parking lot.  His daughter is sick and he has to get her home.  Luckily, T. manages to convince A., the commander, to forget it and let him go on his way.

16:55  Za'tara - Five cars waiting from the north.  The west side is empty.