'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), יום ג' 27.1.09, בוקר
Translation: Suzanne O.
Two crossings are open; there are 11 vehicles in the queue.
When we arrived there were no detainees. Some 10 people cross slowly via the humanitarian lane. Only one additional lane is open and the crossing is held up, with some 30 - 40 people in the queue.
The "disabled crossing" is locked up.
A taxi driver is detained. He has been warned 5 times not to cross via the ingoing lane to Nablus so that he can pick up passengers, therefore he was flouting orders. One of the soldiers, a familiar face but not a good one, runs, grabs him and while pushing him, more an expression of power than a push, they move towards the cell. The pushing is accompanied by an order: put out your cigarette. (Later during a conversation with the soldiers, they smoked and even offered me a cigarette, why is he not permitted to smoke?)
The gentle and polite roadblock commander promises that he will not be held without reason and, indeed, when we next ask, after about a half an hour, he says that the driver has been released. In spite of the trust I have in him, it was a shame that we could not substantiate his words; the cell is hermetically sealed and barred to us.
Meanwhile we run our eyes over the General's order, ' Sterile area. Civilians are prohibited (!) (on the order of the General!!)
8:20 a.m. Another lane is opened and the queue of people flows through.
A Palestinian honoured us with an offensive gesture.
In the vehicle queue there are 10 cars, there is no dog handler. There is no queue at the entrance to Nablus but there is an inspection.
The DCO representative and the roadblock commander tell us that in future the roadblock will be for vehicles and the building work, which was discontinued during the war in Gaza, when it resumes will take about two months. There will be 5 lanes plus one for ingoing traffic to Nablus. According to them this will be much easier for those entering and leaving the city gates. We'll see.
Meanwhile the x-ray machine is in its previous place, far away from the temporary roadblock. This is also the reason for it being left there, as long as the roadblock is temporary the x-ray machine will not be moved (obviously we are talking about a mobile machine, there are those who would call it a vehicle, with wheels and everything) and those crossing with goods have to get to it.
We exposed the violence of the Women in Blue and White towards us to the soldiers; also that we are not paid for our shifts. A fact that should be repeated over and over again.
When I was asked who I am going to vote for, and I refused to reveal it, the roadblock commander guessed "your vote will go to the left, right? Barak?"
Another detainee cuts short our conversation - a 'bingo' detainee with a note torn from a military notebook who is told to report to the DCO ending with the words: "If you don't go, you will be arrested". He was sent quickly on his way.
A bus driver tells us that at Za'atra they have started to hold up buses for inspections taking an hour to an hour and a half, therefore the passengers prefer to take taxis and their livelihood has been reduced.
There is no traffic or people.
There are at least 12 cars at the exit from Nablus; we could not count any more because of the bend in the road. The motivated DCO representative does not let everyone cross (yes, yes, he is the one who inspects documents). Any commercial vehicle, loaded or empty, needing inspection or a vehicle with seats in the back which might be used, god forbid, as a taxi is turned back to Nablus, to Huwwara, according to the 'judgment' of the DCO representative. The time of the inspection: about two and a half minutes.
When we arrived one of the drivers stood at the side. He thought he was detained because he has songs on his mobile phone, among them Hamas songs. Even by brain storming we were unable to understand how the mobile phone got into the hands of the DCO representative, but finally the instruction was that he should 'only' return to Nablus and his mobile would be returned to him, so in his case the story had a happy end.