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Weekly Digest: Reports from Checkpoints, 17.6.07-23.6.07

By MachsomWatch


Date: Wednesday PM, 20.6.07
Watchers: RB, MBH (reporting)

Ezyon DCL: Nobody in the shed, about 5 people outside, 2 wanting to go in but lacking numbers. The female soldier inside explains that numbers are handed out twice a day, morning and noon, and orders from above are to let nobody in without them. There are apparently 15 people inside, being serviced as we wait. A 23 year old complains bitterly that he cannot
even request a card, due to his age. Another complains that he cannot go to Augusta Victoria hospital because he is `GSS denied` -- though the form states no reason.

Bethlehem CP, 18:20. Only one lane operating, but no queue, and people pass quickly.

Date: Thursday, 21.6.07, AM
Watchers: RE, AW, RY (reporting)

06:45, Bethlehem CP. Almost empty. A woman church worker told us that she is about to lose her job due to church workers quotas, and consequently would lose her work permit altogether.

07:40, Ezyon DCL. 60 people waiting. A man, who had not been able to receive a magnetic card for `security` reasons, and been told recently by his lawyer that the prevention was removed, asked us worriedly how we estimated his chances to have the card now. Then he was told that he is now denied passage for police reasons.


Date: Tuesday PM, 19.6.07
Watchers: JW, RH (reporting), guest

Sheikh Said. 2 private security guards, 2 BP. The security guards refused to talk to us. Very little activity in either direction. A few people with blue IDs left Sheikh Said.

Abu Dis, Cliff Hotel. Change of guards at the Moskowitz settlement. Little seems to have changed there since our last visit several months ago. The hotel is in an increasing state of disrepair. The center of Abu Dis, near the wall, is like a ghost town.

Olives crossing. Very quiet. Only two people came through from the Israeli side, and 2 from the Palestinian side. No people waiting in front of the DCL or in front of the other entryways.

Container CP, 15:45. Long queues in both directions, but moving quickly. Within minutes, the lines were very short. Over 180 workers seen returning home. They too passed through quickly.


Date: Thursday AM, 21.6.07
Watchers: AT, MM (reporting)

06.50 Anata: The pedestrian CP has been dismantled and pedestrians are diverted to the car lanes, except for the children, who continue to walk as before. The commotion is heavier than usual and so is traffic. A soldier stops children from time to time, to ask for their ID, apparently to amuse himself. When asked about it he seemed embarrassed and ceased.

07.50 A-Ram: Very quiet. No detainees, a very long line of cars, it took each car 2-4 minutes to cross.

08.15 Qalandiya: Not a visitation day. Two entrances open, pretty soon there is a long queue, but in an immediate response to our request, another is opened. The DCO opened at 08.30, about 25 people were waiting, none approached us.

Nablus Area

Date: Sunday, 17.6.07, PM
Watchers: NP, JB, TH (reporting)

15:15, Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction. No cars lined up in any direction.

Huwwara village. We noticed at least 4 border patrol jeeps standing and questioning pedestrians.

Yitzhar-Burin Checkpoint. Manned but empty of cars.

15:30, Huwwara Checkpoint. Very few pedestrians. 3 active checking posts.

A detainee is released after two hours waiting for the GSS (General Security Service) check.

15:55. Another young man detained because he holds only a Jordanian passport and his father required to be summoned to the CP is abroad. He is turned back into Nablus.

16:45, Beit Furiq. Hardly any pedestrians. Swift checks. Line of vehicles exiting Nablus shorter than usual.

Today`s attraction: A tractor and farmers (two men, two boys) need to cross the apartheid road next to the checkpoint. This is the road that connects settlements Itamar and Alon More, and is out of bounds to Palestinians except at one single spot, the junction that enables crossing from the access road to Beit Furiq and Beit Dajan onto the Checkpoint and into Nablus. The farmers are from Salem village and their lots are on both sides of the road right next to the CP. They harvested grain in the lot across the road and now need to cross with the tractor in order to gather the bales and take them home. The soldiers don`t allow this. Why? Just so. Yesterday they were allowed. Today they`re not. The CP Commander is not accessible. We called the army hotline. Looking in to it. We tried and tried. It didn`t work. They gave up eventually. So did we.

Zaatara Junction. About 15 cars waiting in line southbound from Nablus.

Sunday, 17.6.07, PM
Watchers: AS, AW, SM, SL (reporting)

15:35, Beit Iba. Quieter than usual as university students and schoolchildren are already on vacation, but the stillness is out of the ordinary. Six soldiers at the vehicle checking area and one woman dog trainer.

15:50. At the central part of the checkpoint, there are also more soldiers than usual. At the pedestrian checking area, there are hardly any passing pedestrians, and the few that do want to pass are checked in cursory fashion.

16:30, Jit Junction. Four vehicles, coming from the Zaatara direction, pass in a steady stream past the manned checkpoint.

Azun. The entry way to the town is completely blocked with huge concrete boulders, like a year ago. The town of 12,000 people is shut off to vehicular traffic. A steady stream of men walks in and out of the town, most returning from work. The blockade has been in place for the last two days. The reason? Who knows.

17:15, Qalqilya. For the first time that we can remember, there is no line. No wait.

Date: Tuesday, 19.6.07, AM
Watchers: RC, TS, EB (reporting)

Beit Iba. People avoid travel as much as possible. The pedestrian checkpoint is almost empty, the few people coming into the city are hardly checked; the ones coming out are checked quickly. At the vehicle checkpoint the usual dog-handler is almost out of work.

Date: Tuesday, 19.6.07, AM
Watchers: RC, TS, EB (reporting)

06:30--07:15, Qalqilya. Upon arrival we stepped over to the edge of the exit checkpoint. Right away we were accosted by the checkpoint commander, a border-police sergeant, who demanded that we move back behind the red sign. Obviously there are `hot alerts` and the usual mantras. We argued, to no avail. As a policeman he has the authority to arrest us and would do so if we don`t move back within 10 minutes, he said. We did move back, not to the red sign but a few meters back. This of course is part of the ongoing debate about the proverbial white line. From where we stood we could watch the checking of the vehicles and hear nothing. We could only talk to the people as they came out.

The vehicle line was long. Drivers reported they`d been waiting between 30 minutes to nearly an hour. Pedestrians were checked quickly.

I still remember how on its former reincarnation, 3-4 years ago, we could cross the checkpoint to the Palestinian side. I, too, believe that we should take action, the sooner the better.


Date: Sunday, 17.6.07, PM
Watchers: AS, AW, SM, SL (reporting)

14:00, Ar-Ras. There are three soldiers. Little traffic in either direction.

14:35, Anabta. We`re greeted by a beautifully painted white line in the center of the recently paved roadway. There`s also a white line put in the path of oncoming traffic, so that it supposedly knows where to stop. The first vehicle to pass doesn`t look on the ground, moves on a few meters, invoking the displeasure of the soldier at the concrete check post in the center of the road. The car has to move backwards again, and is, naturally, called forward by the beckoning arm of the soldier.

Three other soldiers at the Tulkarm end of the checkpoint and, for once, there is less traffic coming out of Tulkarm, no line at all. Few vehicles are checked.

Date: Tuesday, 19.6.07, AM
Watchers: RC, TS, EB (reporting)

Empty checkpoints, empty roads. Ghost land.

09:15--09:30, Anabta. The roads are deserted, the checkpoints empty, the soldiers idle. And the Palestinians? The Palestinians stay at home. The students are on vacation, people travel only when the absolutely have to.

09:45--10:15, Jubara & Ar-Ras. A checkpoint without queues should make us happy. Well, it doesn`t. Where there`s life theres traffic, pedestrian and vehicular. Not here.


Date: Monday AM, 18.6.07
Watchers: RK, YS (reporting)

05:15-06:00. Tarqumiya - Workers are streaming out. Position is manned by 4 soldiers, the CO stands guard outside. The queue seems longer than usual, apparently because the CP opened 15 minutes late. One of workers said it took him an hour to pass, but while we were
there it took only 20 minutes. The soldiers carried out the checking very slowly, until one
ordered everyone to start moving. This sped things up.


Date: Monday, 18.6.07, 10:00 - 15:00
Watchers: TS, HS, RH (reporting)

Room 4 - 50 cases scheduled for this day.

For a change, we witnessed today a different approach towards the defendants, proving that attention and correctness can make a difference. The cases today were criminal ones, yet tightly connected to the plight of the Palestinians under the occupation. Most of the defendants were released on bail. The judge knows Arabic well, and communicated freely with the defendants. He asks them about their work, their economic situation and takes this into consideration. He advised the defendants not to confess to deeds they have not committed. He also justified the relatively light sentences explicitly by the fact, thatthe West Bank is in grave economic crisis.

6450/06 RAS from Hebron is charged with using a forged blue ID to visit her husband, who was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. She is prohibited by the GSS to enter Israel. She questioned whether a democratic country can prevent a woman visiting her husband in prison.
Her plea bargain was for 6 months suspended sentence for 2 years, and a fine of 1000 NIS. The judge canceled the suspension part, so that she will be able to apply for a visit permit. It turned out that although she paid 1000 NIS for bail, she had a receipt for just
600NIS. The judge believed her, and ordered the Prosecution to file a complaint with the Police Department.

64620/06, MS, *53 years old from a village near Ramallah, charged with using a falsified blue ID to enter Israel for work. M argued that he possesses a valid work permit that was not accepted by his employer. Having no choice but to work, he purchased a false blue ID card. The judge
ordered the court secretary to verify whether he had a valid permit. It turned out that M`s valid work permit was issued for a single settlement. Until some months ago a work permit
for one settlement was valid for others as well, but the rules have changed. Now each settlement demands its own permit, and the Civil Administration complies and issues them accordingly. He plea bargained for 1 month suspended imprisonment for 3 years and 800 NIS fine. The 3 suspended years are a great problem, because during this period it is very unlikely that he will receive any work permit.

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