Beit Furik, Huwwara, Jit, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 22.9.08, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
6:50 Shomron gate. We leave for Palestine.
7:10 Za'tara (Tapuach) -
No one coming from the west. Two vehicles waiting to go south. Most of the traffic at this early morning hour is comprised of vehicles with yellow license plates, going through their lane.
7:15 On the main road to the village of Huwwara, opposite the entrance to the village of Beita, a flying checkpoint for traffic going north (those coming from Nablus). A Border Patrol jeep and a soldier stationed on the road. Three taxis waiting on the dirt lot nearby.
When we passed by again at 10:40, there was no checkpoint.
7:25 Beit Furik
Those passing through the checkpoint - all of them men - enter Nablus on foot. ID cards are checked. No one leaving Nablus, very light vehicle traffic. A female MP wants to shut down the checkpoint because of our presence. The checkpoint commander orders her to keep working.
Two lanes for men. The lines are short. Belts removed, then replaced on the other side of the checkpoint. People pass through the metal detector. Bags and packages are checked. Sometimes people have to remove their shoes. Going through takes only a short time, about five minutes. Most pedestrians this morning are women, who go through the line off to the side. Most pass quickly; only ID cards are checked. Some of the pedestrians are sent to the x-ray machine on the other side of the checkpoint to have their belongings examined. Little pedestrian traffic, and it flows without stopping.
Vehicle traffic - very sparse in both directions. ID cards and passes are checked at the entrance to Nablus. Passengers leaving Nablus get out of the vehicle a little before the checkpoint, the driver draws near by himself, the passengers continue on foot. They can come closer only after the vehicle is checked. ID cards are checked.
8:20 Two young men are removed from the men's line, asked to stand on the side. Their ID cards are taken. Shortly afterwards, other men join them. After about a minute there are already six of them. All about 20 years old. They lean against the wall of the line at the side. Shortly afterwards two of them are released. One is almost released, but at the last minute his ID card isn't returned. A., the DCO representative, says that it's because he's "being checked by the GSS." The soldier in charge of the detainees is very aggressive, but the camera startles him.
8:26 Three men are released, including the first two detainees.
8:28 The guy who was almost released asks to leave his belongings. A soldier stays to watch them. He's frisked, hands extended to the sides, then taken behind the building which is called, according to the sign, "the humanitarian point." I go over to see what happens there. I stand some distance away, don't hear anything indicating a beating. I come closer, two men in civilian clothing interrogate the young man. They have a military vehicle. The soldiers notice me and get hysterical.
8:32 Eight detainees at the moment, some of them new. They're joined by the young man who was being interrogated.
8:36 The young man who was interrogated returns, takes his belongings and leaves. Someone else is called over. He's also asked to empty his pockets, is frisked and taken behind the humanitarian point.
8:40 One man is released, others are added. There are now 11 detainees, in addition to the one being interrogated. At the moment there are more men being detained than men passing through the checkpoint. The detainees are now older, in their thirties. We talked with one of them, 35 years old, says he's never been detained before.
8:43 Three more detainees.
8:45 The one who was interrogated returns to the checkpoint, takes his bag and leaves.
8:47 Seven people released. The man we spoke to is called over. "Empty your pockets, turn them inside out, everything. Empty." He puts down the briefcase he was carrying near the soldier who's watching them. Displays his wallet, that there's money in it. The soldier refuses, points to the one keeping watch over the belongings. The wallet stays in the briefcase. He's frisked near the humanitarian point. Then - taken in back.
8:50 12 detainees and the person being interrogated.
8:52 Soldiers jump up, fire four or five times into the air. Someone threw acid at a soldier, his face were hurt badly.
A chase, screaming. Life comes to a standstill. Soldiers flee in every direction. Two minutes of tremendous confusion. Palestinians are moved away from the checkpoint, including those who were detained and whose ID cards were taken by the soldiers. Everyone is moved back to the market. The PA from the observation tower: "Alja l'warra." We both hear the soldiers say they didn't see who threw the acid.
Two Palestinians, who were standing near the soldiers, were also injured. There's no water in the field sinks. The soldiers don't help them. Only after Amira argues with the soldiers they change their minds and send him over to the checkpoint to receive medical assistance.
Hysteria. Soldiers with their finger on the trigger. Yelling. They're arguing about the rules, are they allowed to fire at peoples' legs below the knee, maybe shoot to kill, capital punishment. It doesn't occur to anyone to see whether anyone was injured by the shooting, does anyone need medical help.
9:02 A woman, hands raised, dressed in a purple hijab, face covered by a purple scarf, stands next to the humanitarian point (photo attached). She's brought inside. Only men are dealing with her.
9:04 An army doctor arrives.
9:05 The ID cards are returned to the men who were detained; two are missing. The soldiers demand that the men stand far from them. Yelling; the checkpoint commander: "Stop it, calm down."
9:07 An ambulance arrives.
9:13 The women is taken out of the humanitarian point.
9:19 The two ID cards that disappeared are given back.
In the midst of all this, the person who was interrogated comes back. He wasn't beaten. He was asked about himself - where he grew up, where he went to school, his work, his education, his family. He'd never been arrested, never detained.
Many people who had been on their way to Nablus gathered in the market. Many women and children. We see a mother on the way to the hospital with a sick child. At 9:22 the path to Nablus opens. A mass of people flows along the narrow path to the turnstile. The woman and sick child are allowed to pass, after our intervention, through the exit lanes from Nablus.
At 9:27 people are allowed to enter Nablus via the vehicle lanes. It's hard to estimate how many people were there. Both of us think that 1,500 wouldn't be an overestimate (photos attached).
9:32 People and vehicles begin leaving Nablus. They pass through quickly; the soldiers are concerned about the checkpoint getting crowded. In any case there weren't many people leaving Nablus and by 9:45 the lines are again pretty short. Elderly people leave Nablus, leaning on canes or helped by family members.
9:50 The checkpoint routine returns.
10:10 A taxi driver is detained. He's on the way to Nablus. He has to leave his vehicle off to the side, is taken to the isolation pen. His ID is checked against the list.
10:15 The handcuffed woman is taken to a military jeep. The jeep leaves the checkpoint. The checkpoint commander (a different one, a replacement) reports that she admitted throwing the acid, admitted that she also did so two weeks ago, and that she's being mistreated at home and wants to die.
Taxi drivers at the Huwwara market: three people were injured by shots. It isn't clear what their condition is. They're hospitalized in hospitals in Nablus. They say that the person who threw the acid was dressed in black and fled back to Nablus. People on line saw it. We spoke on the phone to the brother of one of the people who was injured. He was shot in the stomach. Undergoing surgery.
The road to Jit is closed because of an accident on the road to Za'tara.
At 11:10 the Jit junction was open.
At 11:25 we returned to Israel through the Eliyahu gate.