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Chaos Caused by Israeli Checkpoint

by ISM Nablus, Wednesday 1st November

At one o’clock this afternoon, the Israeli checkpoint of Beit Iba, just west of Nablus City was closed for all vehicles and pedestrians attempting to pass it. Located at a junction between the villages of Beit Iba, Quusin and Deir Sharaf, this is a central thoroughfare to and from Nablus, especially for students and workers from Jenin and its surrounding villages.

At five o’clock in the afternoon, buses and trucks were queued up in two lines which were at least 500 meters long on each side of the checkpoint. Hundreds of men, women and children, subject to orders barked out by Israeli soldiers, were continuously forced to move from behind the turnstiles into the car lane and then back again. A group of students from Tubas had been waiting for at least three hours to go to their homes. Tension was rising as finally the soldiers started to open the checkpoint, allowing a slow trickle of women and children to go through. One hummer and three soldiers blocked the entrance to the pedestrian passageway on the west side of the checkpoint, forcing people to wait in the way of the traffic which created chaos.

Three jeeps were also stationed in the middle of the junction, blocking the road for ambulances, trucks and buses that were -with difficulty- squeezing past them. At least twenty soldiers milled about, pointing their machine-guns into the crowd to enforce their conflicting orders. At one point, an international human rights worker approached an officer from the “Humanitarian Division” of the Israeli occupation forces, standing to the side seemingly observing what was going on. When asked what he thought of the situation, the soldier answered “very bad”. As the human rights worker expressed a concern that someone could be shot at any moment, the soldier nodded in agreement but said “there is nothing I can do. I am not from here”.

At about six o’clock, the checkpoint opened up completely and the men, some of whom had been waiting to pass since two o’clock, were finally allowed to pass. Three men who had been detained a few hours earlier were released and the line of vehicles started to move. As a large coach full of al-Najah students were forced to step off their bus while it was being searched, one of the girls remarked that “this gives us no time to study, or to spend time with our families. I ate here today, at the checkpoint! It will take me another hour to get home and then I must go straight to bed. And tomorrow I have to go through here again. This is not a life.”

Fortunately, no one was hurt today. Similar closures frequently take place at the more than 518 checkpoints, guarded gates and other forms of road blocks located throughout the West Bank, and often lead to injuries or even death. These restrictions on freedom of movement cripple the economy and prevent people from being able to plan their daily lives – yet another aspect of the slow genocide orchestrated by the Israeli government and sanctioned by the international community’s silence.