Number of Soldiers Present: three shifts of 4 soldiers
Soldiers Names, ID #’s, License Plate #’s, Etc: 1 tank (756535) and 1 jeep (610765)
Events Witnessed: We arrive at 08:00. 2 soldiers are standing outside the tank, but the traffic is very smooth. We introduce ourselves, without giving our names, and the soldiers ask for no detail regarding what we are doing.
08:08 The soldiers stop a service taxi on its way to Birzeit for a very quick check. They stop a second one two minutes afterwards. And then, they start to stop every private car and all the service taxis as well, to check the ID’s of the passengers and the trunks of the cars.
08:15 While handing out flyers to the people passing by, a soldier asks what is written on the paper. He wants us to translate it sentence by sentence. We gave him the flyer and a quick summary.
Another jeep (number 667 423) arrives: three soldiers get off and put on their bulletproof jackets, new ammunitions with tear gas thrower. The situation becomes quite tense and the traffic is blocked both ways.
Some Palestinians are questioned by the soldiers about the papers that we are distributing.
08:30 A soldier stops a service taxi quite violently. All the passengers are ordered to get out of the car. Then, soldiers ask for the ID and check the car. It takes them a long time to give the IDs back. When we ask the soldier why he was so tough with the people of this car, he replies, “This car did not stop when I told it to, so it is suspicious, OK? Therefore, I’m now checking them all, but I will give the ID back, don’t worry”.
The traffic is a complete mess and people begin to walk through.
One soldier thinks we are journalists. We explain our purpose, and he laughs before asking whether what we are observing is good or bad. When we say it is never “good” to see a checkpoint, he does not seem to understand.
09:00 We ask the Commander why everything was so quiet half an hour before and why they are stopping everybody now. Did the new shift arrive with new orders or did they take their own decisions to do so?
“Don’t ask questions,” is the only answer we could get.
Soldiers stop a white private yellow-plated car with three men inside. They check the ID and ask the driver to wait there in the sun. When we ask for explanation, the soldiers first tell us that the drivers did not have the ID with them, but as we press them for answers, they admit that the Police are checking if the car had not been stolen.
09:15 Another jeep (number 610765) arrives with four other soldiers and the tank goes back to the top of the hill. Before leaving, the Commander asks to see our observation notes. We refuse, and he responds, “if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.”
The soldiers allow the detained car to leave, after 45 minutes of waiting.