Beit Iba, Tue 30.12.08, Afternoon
15:25 Shirt and pair of shoes
On the way to Deir Sharaf there are two new fortified positions next to
the hinged steel barriers (photos attached).
15:10 Shave Shomron
Cars are waved through in both directions.
15:25 Beit Iba
Trousers, sweater, shirt, a pair of shoes and a belt. Clothing piled
in front of the turnstile, clearly visible to the men standing on line (photo
attached). N., the checkpoint commander: “What didn’t you hear? They belong
to the terrorist I caught today. I could have killed him, but I didn’t.”
“It’s good that you didn’t,” Reba says to him. “It’s not good,” he replies, “I
should have killed him. I’m a Jew who’s too good.” He also tells us that the
terrorist was a 16-year old youth, a resident of Nablus.
The lines are fairly long, including the one off to the side for women
and older men. Only one lane for younger men (instead of the two usually open
during all our visits to the checkpoint); the men remove watches and belts;
many also have to remove their shoes (photos attached) before going through the
metal detector; they pass their ID cards and briefcases through a small window
to be inspected by a soldier seated in a fortified booth. The soldier guarding
the line off to the side points his rifle at the people waiting. Sometimes the
rifle barrel actually touches their arm (photo attached). At 16:00 pedestrians
begin arriving at the entrance to Nablus,
without being inspected.
One detainee in the pen; we don’t have any access to him. A., the DCO
representative, tells us that the guy had been fresh. Later N., the checkpoint
commander, said that he’s a “bingo, who’s been detained for ten minutes”
(Impossible. We’d already been here 20 minutes before receiving that reply).
The detainee was still being held when we left at 16:40.
15:35 A man is sent back after going through the lane off to the
side. A soldier takes him over to the pen to be checked. “They checked that I
wasn’t wearing an explosive belt,” he sighed to us.
16:10 A 39-year old man, with four children, wants to go through the
lane off to the side. Definitely not. An argument begins; you know how it
will end: “Go back.”
Vehicle traffic – one lane entering the city, two leaving. Heavy
traffic in both directions. ID cards are checked. Vehicles approach the booth
when the soldier signals to them. The inspection is relatively fast. The
trunk is opened only when the company commander is around.
The company commander, Y., showed up in our honor. A., the checkpoint
commander (a new commander took over soon after we arrived) complained that I
was taking photographs inside the area of the checkpoint. “You’re allowed only
from 20 meters in any direction.” Who decides on the 20 meters?
The company commander emphasizes that those are the orders of the
brigade commander. An argument begins. We remind him that the checkpoint
isn’t a closed military area. Y. claims that it is. We say that, as citizens,
we aren’t obligated to follow orders from the brigade commander, and ask him to
find out what the position of the JAG is. He finally says, “You want to take
pictures, take them.”
We learn from the company commander that the 16-year old terrorist is
already back home. “The GSS let him go home.” “Doesn’t that seem strange?,”
we asked. He shrugs. “Probably because he’s young.” “Did he go home naked?,”
we asked. “In shorts.” A., the DCO representative, said that the kid’s
brothers had also been caught trying to bring bombs through.. He said the kid wanted to be
caught so that he could take courses in an Israeli prison at Israel’s
Checkpoint scenes – a man apologizes, smiling, for his potbelly while a
soldier pats him down. A woman with a sick child wants to come through
quickly, but isn’t allowed. A young father unwraps the blankets wrapping his infant
son, to show that there’s only a baby inside the bundle, tightly wrapped
against the cold wind.
As we left the checkpoint the taxi drivers told us that the kid stood
for four hours in underpants and socks, from 10:00 until 14:00..
16:40 We continued to Qalqilya.