'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 1.12.08, Morning
Likelihood of canceling of Beth Furik and Awarta checkpoints.
Meaningless one-hour-detention of Palestinian at Beth Furik.
Fleeing of detainee at Huwwara. Use of detention booth for punishment and "education"
"Where is Salfit "?!
7.10 Marda: open at both gates.
Zeita: "permanently" closed: with the well known big concrete blocks.
- 7.15Za'tara (Tapu'ah): no special events
7.45 Beth Furik:
At the parking queue of about 10 cars that move quickly.
We note newly placed concrete blocks with metal gate, which gives the possibility of closing the road to Beth Furik.
Opposite, near the watchtower an excavator is preparing.... what?
From a taxi-driver we hear:"on Sunday the checkpoint will be removed and only a new larger watchtower will check passing cars. Otherwise free movement in and out of Nablus". Almost everyone seems pleased, only the taxi-drivers are not happy about this, as they loose out on this new arrangement.
Seeing the easy passing of the many pedestrians and cars - no checking of the ID's even - this indeed seems likely.
8.00 In the detantion pit a man who is just brought in by an army car with his eyes covered by a flannel strip and his hand tied in the back. We don't even try to inquire for what reason, knowing our questions will not been answered. After some half hour Rina brings him some water, (passing the "holy" white line! Yes,yes!!). This is a good reason for the soldiers to jump to their feet and photograph her.
9.00 The arrested man, -we hear from a passerby that he comes from Beth Furik- , is freed from his blindfold and plastic handcuffs after one useless hour and without any fuss is let free. He passes the checkpoint direction Nablus, but turns immediately right and walks several kilometers through the fields to Salem.
Far away we see two flocks of sheep pass the earthen ramp and walking towards Nablus without anyone paying attention, not like a few weeks ago.
Dear oh dear, what about our security??!!
As no one has much "work" we have the -nowadays unusual- opportunity to strike up a conversation with the soldiers. From this we learn something new. The soldiers believe that the brigade commandant ("machat") from Nablus is really supportive of MW's work and relies on our reports. So much so that on the basis thereof soldiers even received punishments of 28 days jail! As usually we are met with antagonism it was nice to be able to share thoughts with the soldiers in spite of our basic disagreements about our activities at the checkpoints.
9.30 Awarta: at the entrance: road-works. Also here we hear that the checkpoint will be closed down. The back to back parking area has no concrete blocks any longer and is almost deserted.
3 Palestinians locked up in booth. Two, father and son, may leave - after spending there two hours, as we hear from "both sides": soldiers and Palestinians. This was a punishment for driving on "the apartheid-Madison-road".
The DCO A. had threatened he will not return the car-entrance permit, let the couple wait for another half hour and finally returned the permit.
DCO A. affirms that the checkpoints of Beth Furik and Awarta will be abolished and tells us there will be one for Tulkarm and Nablus on the Westside replacing Beth Iba.
Huwwara will be practically the only entrance to Nablus, with stricter checking with the help of sophisticated electronic apparatus. He adds that they expect it will lead to great disorder and much longer waiting hours than today.
There are between 30-50 pedestrians waiting in the two available lanes, but with one magnometer only, the other two being removed*. One "humanitarian" lane is open too but rather slow.
As quiet as one girl-soldier does the checking so rough, brash and loudly does the other. So much so that, after having suffered her treatment, a Palestinian mutters, deservedly, under his breath "sharmuta".
The noisy girl-soldier treats everyone that has to pass rudely, has to repeat what she orders three or four times as no one seems to understand her. Passing the magnometer never succeeds the first time, hopefully the second, but mostly only after the third time. Then, after gathering all his belongings and having passed a second "carrousel" the Palestinian can replace belt etc. A real "balancing act "! This has been so for years now.
Why should we make life easier for the Palestinian population by placing a table or shelf after the checking!!?
Today the detention-booth is for punishment:
10.05 A new detainee is send to the booth to keep "no.3" company. The last is released a few minutes later.
For what reason this new detention we did not know as at that moment the checkpoint-commandant had to argue with us about 30 cm passing the blue "white line", which really bothers him. The line is there where we are unable to see properly what is going on.
Later we understood that the soldiers hold him there as he had a police-report.
To their embarrassment he managed to flee the booth some time after being put there.
Around 10.40 again someone was send to the detention-booth, this time a taxi-driver who misbehaved at the Nablus side of the checkpoint.
Do the soldiers not know that the booth is not for punishment??
11.15 On our way back at za'tara a bus is being checked thoroughly: all passengers had to alight.
The brand new sign pointing to the south to Ariel and Salfit(!) on the new part of road 5 is a fake : no way leading to Salfit, so much so that one guard checking cars towards Ariel never even heard of Salfit, the other one explains how we can get there with a long detour (naturally!), via Barkan and onwards.
An army-hummer is investigating the passengers of a van in the fields of Azun Atmeh.
*not only the magnometers were removed, also the "humanitarian"station.
This removal created real discomfort both for soldiers and Palestinians!
Why was it not possible to wait until the new checkpoint is finished.