An arm of iron was posted on the road leading to the villages of Beit Furik and Beit Dajan (both photos were taken on Tuesday, February 10 2009):
Similar iron arms were constructed lately in other villages in the area of Nablus (for example in Sara and in Deir Sharaf). Last Tuesday I spoke with a DCO officer (District Coordination Office). He told me that the iron gate will be open between 5am and 9pm. “Humanitarian” cases that will want to leave the villages (that practically turn into corrals at nighttime) can call the DCO. The Number is listed on the concrete block of the gate. “We respond to every request,” he assured me.
Beit Furik Checkpoint (southeast of Nablus) was closed down two months ago. Last Tuesday we only went by to see it. There is free passageway for vehicles, pedestrians are not allowed to cross. The usual traffic jam is gone.
It is definitely astounding to see the Beit Furik checkpoint open. I saw here everything: stopping the flow of life (that is to say, no passage at the checkpoint. Groups of Palestinians standing on both sides, waiting. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for several hours. Old men, children, everyone. In the pouring rain or in the scorching sun). I saw Palestinians detained for hours at the Jorah. Soldiers harassing pedestrians. Examining textbooks of students, to make sure that no propaganda was inside. I even saw them examining Korans. And now – the checkpoint is open for free passage. Is it possible that it was never necessary?
At Huwwara (south of Nablus) a new checkpoint was opened two months ago. It was planned in such a way that it can be shut in a minute, and those standing in it will be locked inside. Soldiers there told us that within two months the checkpoint is going to close down. There will be free passageway for vehicles, and prohibition of pedestrian crossing. Similar to Beit Furik today.
I cannot remember how many times soldiers at Huwwara told me they were guarding the checkpoint, “so that you can rest your cheek on the pillow at night.” It must have been hundreds of times. If Beit Furik is now open, and the checkpoint at Huwwara is about to close down, is it possible that all this was pointless?
The occupation in Nablus is going under a change. The era of checkpoints is coming to an end for that area. The occupant is shifting to a new policy: free passageway for vehicles only during daytime, corrals of villages at nighttime. We will see what happens when someone needs urgent medical care at night.