Physicians: Another Day in Occupied Territories
Just another day in the Occupied Territories
The West Bank -- A beautiful day, a little chilly. The Israeli security services announced a week prior that the checkpoints would be improved and some would be removed. On this optimistic note a delegation of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel set out to conduct a mobile clinic in the West Bank village of Burqa, near Nablus- population: 5,000- with one government clinic and a doctor twice a week.
9:30am: the delegation ran into its first checkpoint, near a village south of Tul Karem. On both sides of the checkpoint dozens people were waiting to pass through in order to reach the city or the villages, or vice versa.
The delegation continued east bound on a bypass road, which was almost entirely empty, as travel is permitted only to Israeli vehicle and Palestinian buses which received the proper permits from the Civil Administration.
Ten minutes later the delegation arrived at the Deir Sharif junction. There, an army patrol unit blocked the road and prevented Palestinian movement. Four Palestinian buses which were permitted to travel in times of closure and siege, were waiting on the side of the road. Most of the passengers were traveling to Tul Karem. In response to questions posed by the delegation members, they related that they had already undergone several security checks and delays on the way to this junction, and that they were waiting at Deir Sharif for an hour. Later on their journey they would encounter a physical barrier (a locked metal fence) in the town of `Anabta, which they would have to pass on foot. Just past the barrier, taxis would wait in order to transport them to the city.
10:10am: The delegation continued to Barqa village via one additional checkpoint- Shave Shomron. This checkpoint is infamous for the difficulties encountered there. Here, Palestinians are often delayed for lengthy periods of time. Once again, dozens of Palestinians were sitting by checkpoint on the ground, waiting. They- the majority of whom were students on their way to university- informed the delegation that they had been waiting there since 6:00am. A soldier signaled to a truck driver in front of the line of vehicles to move forward, and then, when reaching the soldiers, he was told to travel back to the cement blocks, only to be told a few minutes later "come".
It seems that this has become the norm. The delegation was also signaled to approach the soldiers, but upon arrival the members of the delegation were rebuked by the same soldier. Hand signals, it appears, are not a universal language and some of the members had trouble understanding. The soldiers insisted that the delegation unload all of its equipment from the cars, and they conducted a search. After doing so, the soldiers said that in any event travel into Burqa is prohibited. The delegation insisted that it had the right to enter the village; the soldier called for an officer who arrived about 30 minutes later and permitted the entrance. The delegation continued on, leaving behind hundreds of Palestinians waiting by checkpoints and roadblocks.
A few kilometers from there, at 10:30 am, at the Beit Iba checkpoint, "Machsom Watch" volunteers called Physicians for Human Rights-Israel and related that dozens of Palestinians were being delayed since 5:30am on their way to Nablus. The people's ID cards were taken and security checks were been conducted slowly; amongst those waiting were a doctor and a medical worker on their way to Rafadiya Hospital in Nablus. Physicians for Human Rights-Israel's intervention partially assisted. The medical worker passed through; however, the doctor was forced to return to where he came from (at 15:00). Two men on their way to visit their brother in the hospital were sent back empty handed. They needed to receive permits. Nablus, army officials related, was closed, end of story.
another Saturday in the West Bank. The supposed easing of
restrictions never reached these checkpoints.