Beit Iba, Wed 22.10.08, Morning

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Zvia S., Rachel A. (reporting) Translator: Charles K.

7:00-9:30  Beit Iba
There’s not much for us to do at the checkpoint itself.  Traffic to Nablus flows with no delays or inspections.  Many male and female students holding notebooks, without briefcases, pass through the checkpoint.
People leaving Nablus are carefully checked.  But no one was turned back while we were there.
Almost no cars go through to Nablus.  In fact, very few cars go through in either direction, unlike what we remember from the past.  What happened?  Where are all the trucks that once went through?  Buses?
We went over to the café to find out from the locals what’s going on.  Taxi drivers showed up immediately, each with his own problem.  Everyone complained about restrictions on travel to Nablus/traffic fines/communication with the DCO representatives/economic hardships, etc.  We focused on restrictions on travel to Nablus, starting with the first person who approached us.  He has two wives and 23 or 27 children, and works as a salaried taxi driver, making about NIS 50 per day after giving most of his earnings to his employer.  And even though he hasn’t been identified by the police or the security forces as representing a problem, he’s not permitted to enter Nablus.  Another, who paid the fines imposed on him, says that the payments weren’t registered by the computer, or something else happened, and he’s at a loss how to deal with the bureaucratic mixup that has been created.  A third person stands smiling off to one side, and says that what they said is correct.  Every story is the truth. 
If we had sat longer in that improvised office, we would have had our hands full with things to take care of.

9:45  Anabta
Light traffic flowing in both directions.  Almost no inspections.

10:00  Ar-Ras
The road at the point the checkpoint is located is still in very bad condition.  Vehicles have considerable difficulty passing through.  Not much traffic while we were there.  The soldiers carefully inspect the cars, and tell us how many explosive devices and pipe bombs they’ve found, and are very proud of themselves.
At the exit from Jubara, at the fence, a driver of a pickup truck with a load of olive oil containers that he just brought from the press (the entire season’s harvest) tries to get home.  He has to wait until the DCO representative authorizes him to bring the “goods” back to his home.  Transport of goods through this checkpoint requires authorization, and someone who doesn’t have one has no choice but to wait to obtain one.  According to him, that’s all he got from this year’s harvest.  He has 10 brothers.  Each will receive 3 containers, and that’s it.  Because there wasn’t much rain, the crop was poor.  The soldiers work according to the book.  The Palestinian waits according to the book, and we try to explain to the soldiers that he’s going home, to his lands, with his crop, and the term “goods” is inappropriate in this case.  Finally, authorization is given, and he drives home.