Translating: Ruth Fleishman
A young woman from Nablus was being taken from an occupied territories ambulance to a Jerusalem ambulance while carrying in her arms her month old baby, who was born with heart disease. They were headed to Makased hospital where the baby would receive treatment and perhaps be operated on.
A female soldier holding a long rifle ordered the driver of the ambulance to open the woman's bag and present it before her, so that she could make sure that there were no suspicious substances or bombs in it.
A security man was also there (from the Civil Security Company), a gun was in his holster and he was guarding the soldier with the long rifle. He was angry with us and especially with the camera and called the police.
The ambulances had already left when the police arrived and demanded that we step away. We didn't.
- "You are detained for insubordination to a police officer, accompany us",
They said and took us to the police station inside the checkpoint.
We were detained for 45 minutes.
But we aren't Palestinians and that makes all the difference:
Dov, the police officer, consulted with his superiors regarding our case, when he returned he filled three detainment forms, one for each of us, just like the forms they used to make the Palestinians sign when detained at the notorious Ar-Ram checkpoint.
Dov made us sign it. We didn't get a copy. He said that only a lawyer could request and receive a copy.
Gabi Laski and the people in her office, who were informed the moment we were detained and were supportive of us, had already filed the request for a copy.
If the security man files a complaint against us (officer Dov explained), an inquiry would open and perhaps there would also be a trial, and we too have the right to complain about the security guard and then an inquiry regarding him would open.
I, and I speak only for myself, will not file a complaint regarding their behavior, because it is my opinion that I am/ we are not the center of the narrative of the occupation.
Once we were released from our forced delay at the police station, we crossed to the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. The air was filled with tear gas fumes and remaining of car tires were still burning by the wall - a testimony to what occurred between the checkpoint and the refugee camp while we were detained.
And on the main road heading west was a convoy of vehicles honking their horns and in them were men cheering and waving flags from the open windows: "my uncle was released from prison!" yelled one of them.
Translator: Charles K.
06:33 We drove from Shokat junction straight to Hebron to arrive on time to see the children walking to school.
A military vehicle waits at the fence near Kramim for people in Israel illegally who are clearly visible on the opposite hill.
We didn’t stop at the checkpoint because from a distance it appeared empty; only the last laborers were crossing.
Three buses transporting relatives of prisoners passed us going in the opposite direction.
A soldier at the Kvasim junction walks a kindergarten girl across the street.
Leah, who’d come from Jerusalem, joined us at the Kiryat Arba gas station. The military unit stationed at the Federman farm has been relieved; the new flags fly in the wind.
Curve 160 is full of military personnel.
We stood for about half an hour at the Pharmacy junction with the four foreigners who also observe the pupils crossing. One is a Palestinian Moslem who used to live on Mount Scopus and emigrated to the cold lands. While we were there a bus transporting settler pupils drove by, bearing a sign reading “In IDF service.”
Giv’ati soldiers man the Tarpa”t checkpoint. Since we didn’t recognize them by their caps we asked one of the soldiers which unit they belonged to. He was pleasant and replied, which greatly annoyed one of the other soldiers who’d just returned from a patrol, so when we returned that soldier stopped us and asked for our driver’s ID card but firmly refused to receive ours.
A convoy of water tankers was leaving Kiryat Arba to deliver water to the area around Hebron.
On our way back we saw an archaeological salvage excavation near the Ma’on settlement, and stopped. It turned out that there’s a “Greater Ma’on” outline plan, so the Civil Administration archaeology officer is undertaking a salvage excavation, the second one, about one kilometer above Ma’on. The archaeologist told us that the Tawwani excavation was also a salvage operation since there’s an outline plan for Tawwani as well. He said it had been developed jointly with the residents (do we know anything about that?). The excavation will continue for 10-14 days. The diggers are Palestinians with “settlement” work permits.
We promised to return next week to see the finds.
Trans. Charles K.
We left the Shokat junction at 06:00 for the Tarqumiyya checkpoint but didn’t arrive until 06:45 because we had trouble with the car. Most of the laborers had already crossed but many were still there who could report on their numerous troubles and hardships.
The entrance to the checkpoint can be confusing: two plazas on the road to prevent accidents, bushes trimmed like in European parks, on its face an innocent border crossing.
We stayed until 07:20 and heard about many entry permits that had been confiscated, slander and mutual recriminations leading to confiscation of permits and other consequences. Since we don’t come here regularly they have no one to advocate on their behalf. We have to see how we can renew our visits there.
The Palestinians say the women inspectors treat them very badly, as do the checkpoint managers. The bathrooms have been closed. Laborers returned while we were there because it rained and work was cancelled.
Southern Hebron Hills
We continued to Hebron in heavy fog which made doing anything difficult so we drove to the school at a-Tawwani. We arrived exactly at 08:00 and met the children arriving on foot, in the rain. They told us the army arrived on time to escort them.
Translator: Charles K.
06:30 Most of the laborers at the Sansana checkpoint have already crossed to the Israeli side; dozens still wait for their rides. Next to the revolving gate we meet a CPT representative. He says about 4,000 people crossed this morning, without any unusual incidents. A short distance along Highway 60 we see a large sign by the roadside: “Welcome to Har Hebron – Come to visit, come to connect, come to stay.”
We turn onto Highway 317 and…”Fulfill your dreams in Sussiya,” flags of the homeland waving gently along the road in the morning breeze. The highway is empty, deserted, as is the little village of a-Taywwani. We stopped next to the “archaeological excavations” carried out about a year ago. We looked around – the excavations are fine! And the landowner, who wanted only to lay a water line in order to have flowing water at home was”granted” a dubious structure for his sheep. But water? Nope.
We wanted to accompany the children on their way to school but it was too early so we drove on to Hebron.
We passed the Carmel settlement where a sign proclaims “Carmel’s new neighborhood – 13 housing units;” construction is well-advanced. Just this morning Ha’aretz reported that the Americans gave their tacit consent to construction “only in the large blocs.” Is Carmel also in one of the “large blocs”?
We drive on. Poor villages line the road. A woman carries a pail of water on her head and holds a second in her hand, just like in the … 16th century… Along the road, before Zif junction, dozens of children walk to school.
The Ja’abari family built an additional house near the beginning of the Kiryat Arba –Hebron road. We hope it will stand a long time.
On the upper road past Beit Hameriva/Hashalom is a roadblock where some Palestinian cars whose drivers have crossing permits are allowed to stop, the driver may lift the roadblock, go through, then replace it without having to “bother” the soldiers guarding the house, and thus be able to use the road. But they’re only a chosen few. Most have to take a detour on a bumpy road restricted to Palestinians…
“There’s no limit to idiocy,” Yael says.
CPT women at the Pharmacy checkpoint tell us that Issa was arrested the day Obama met Abu Mazen and has been in jail since. They don’t know what happened to him. They also said children told them that in a booth at one of the crossings where they’re often stopped to have their schoolbags inspected there are photos of children on the wall and many times they’re asked to identify the children in the photos and asked their names. We promised to try and find out what’s going on. They also said that during 65 days, 45 children had been arrested! We later phoned a local acquaintance to find out where Issa is. It turns out he had been held for two days and then released without having been charged with anything.
We saw new signs at Tel Rumeida (only in Hebrew, of course) directing visitors “To the tombs of Yishai and Ruth – to Admot Yishai.”
There’s also a large new sign on Shuhadah Street (“King David Street,” according to Anat Cohen) at the corner of the Avraham Avinu neighborhood: “The ancient Jewish Quarter Avraham Avinu Synagogue.”
Translator: Charles K.
We left Beersheba at 06:30.
Meitar crossing was operating in a reasonable manner.
Highway 60 is open, with a little more traffic than usual (i.e., we saw 12-15 vehicles in an hour but only one military jeep).
Kiryat Arba and Hebron
drowsing; a few children go through the checkpoints on their way to school but aren’t detained.
At the Pharmacy checkpoint we met the principal of the Abrahimi boys’ school who wasn’t particularly eager to talk to us but said the army arrests many 12-13 year old boys for no reason, as a deterrent. We determined to arrive early in order to observe the children as they go through the checkpoints. At the Pharmacy checkpoint we also met CPT women who come when the children go through.
South Hebron Hills
We returned via Highway 317, stopping at Umm el Hir to visit the kindergarten – but it was closed; we were told the children were on a field trip.
Settlers from nearby Carmel wandered around the area, apparently measuring or inspecting something. They didn’t bother us.
Shift objectives: creative activity in Huda’s kindergarten, Hashem el Daraj, together with Huda
The theme:My body – dolls out of toilet-paper cylinders, kalkar balls and pipe cleaners
It was a day of sandstorms and sudden cold. Many children didn’t come, some arrived with their mother, who stayed because going home in the storm was so hard. 15 children attended.
As we entered, the children were seated in a circle on chairs, and straw mats we had brought some weeks ago. Because of Mohamed’s presence, Huda and the other women covered their faces. Mohamed decided to leave and find something else to do (a pity, since he is such an important part of our activities). Luckily, we had Boteyna, who translated and connected us with Huda and Amana her aunt, who was working as her aide.
We brought dressing-up clothes for acting the story, “Rasha’s Hat”, about a girl with a hat whose feathers were blown away, one after another, until she learned to hold her hat properly and save a feather. On our previous visit we had done this without dressing up and no musical instruments and the children had looked frozen. Today they were more relaxed. This time, they put flowers on themselves and acted the part of the wind.
Then we moved on to the table activities. We made dolls out of cardboard rolls as the body, the kalkar balls as the head, and the pipe cleaners for the arms and the legs and a belt. Huda had prepared material for the dolls’ garment. Finally, we glued eyes on the face and drew hair on the head. It was a bit complicated. Lucky we were three women. Some of the children enjoyed playing with the dolls and coloring the face and dresses. Some seemed bored. In the end, Huda decided would leave the dolls in preschool – we strung them up (on hangers Mohamed had made last time). We really need shelves and tables to exhibit the children’s work.
Pictures of the activity (Mira – Gan Huda art activity April 4th, 2013
Mohamed joined us – since the children and their mothers had gone home, Huda felt free enough not to cover her face. We talked over tea and cookies and discussed the activities we had planned. Thursday, in two week’s time, we shall make models of houses out of milk cartons. And after that we’re planning to sing children’s songs about ‘Handy from Nazareth’. Huda took it on herself to prepare the materials we had brought for the activities. We also left tools for making things with plastecine – maybe they will start something new even in our absence.
At 7:30 an the Meitar checkpoint is clear but many workers are waiting on the Israeli side for their transport. Two luxurious buses are also waiting, presumably for prisoners' families (from information received the process of check visitors at the Sharon women's prison has been tightened and the visiting time thus reduced. (See: Women`s Organization for Political Prisoners (WOFPP)
Hebron and K Arba are dozing in a post-Pesach stupor. New banners invite participation in the settlement adventure. We want to visit the boy's school and maybe meet one or two the little guys who were arrested last week ( Btselem report 20/03/2013) but the school is off on an outing. At the Pharmacy checkpoint a Druze officer is more or less friendly while his Jewish colleague looks grim. A shiny white vehicle pulls up with an officer and cohorts, smiling broadly he tells us that only internationals are permitted to observe at the checkpoint and we are holding up the traffic. Netanya points down the deserted street and asks whether he thinks this is Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv. Back in Beer Sheva the Palestinian prisoner Maiseer Abu Hamtsa died of cancer this morning in Soroka hospsital, which may account for the strange assertion of the Border Policeman in anticipation of possible protests, which according to the press do indeed occur. However, we see no reinforcements of army or police so this is just a guess, fired by hindsight (no pun intended!).
It’s a gray, hot, hazy day; the world around us seems to have passed out…
13:00 Tapuach Junction checkpoint
Unmanned. On our way back, at 17:30, still unmanned, but 3 Border Policemen sit there, openly bored.
13:20 – Maale Efraim checkpoint
Unmanned. In the afternoon, at 17:15, 3 reservists man the checkpoint but cars pass unchecked.
15:00 and 16:45- Hamra checkpoint
Manned by reservists. Passengers in both directions are not required to disembark. This is a relief, that can be repealed at any moment as we saw on March 19, when in the morning people could cross in their cars and in the afternoon they were forced to disembark and cross the checkpoint on foot.
Cars traveling to the Jordan Valley are checked, their driver made to disembark and stand beside the car. Cars traveling into the West Bank were not checked.
On March 23, the checkpoint was closed for about 3.5 hours (according to a phone report). It was evening and the soldiers directed the Palestinian vehicles to the fields south of the checkpoint and instructed them to bypass it, unchecked. A bus load of school children on their way home from a school trip was not able to manage the dirt road and the children had to sit still inside the bus for all of 3.5 hours. Around 8 p.m. the checkpoint was reopened for traffic. A phone call to the DCO produced the following answers:
1. A Palestinian reached the checkpoint and tried to attack the soldiers.
2. (later) An explosive charge was discovered in his things and they were waiting for a robot to come and detonate it.
Before the checkpoint was reopened a blast was heard.
Talking with a Palestinian today, we heard there’s a rumor about that a 15-year-old boy was arrested following the blast incident and passed on for interrogation to the Palestinian security services. Admittedly, this is but a rumor and has not been verified by anyone.
15:30 Tyassir checkpoint
Here too, the soldiers are reservists, friendly and smiling. The traffic is scant and passage swift. Passengers cross inside their cars, wave to us in greeting and say that crossing this morning was alright, too.
Generally speaking, things are calm, we saw no army forces on maneuvers, and the presence of soldiers on the ground was relatively scant. The Palestinians also report an easy day at the checkpoints, and that they’ve suffered no extraordinary violence in the past few days. Just plain old quiet routine oppression.
Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300
Naomi Gal (translating)
Only two windows are open although quite a few people are waiting in line. 30 minutes into the shift they open another window.
The checking lasts for long moments, because at least in one of the windows there is a soldier who doesn’t concede and makes each and every one lay their finger on the biometric devise (fingerprint identification). The device slows down occasionally while transferring the required information to the screen and one has to press the finger time and again; often the soldier asks to use the other hand. The Palestinians are already making fun about it and when their turn arrives they ask: "Right or left?" The soldier answers to most "right" but sometimes says “left" when the screen remains indifferent to the right finger and doesn’t allow the owner of the hand to pass.
There are not many kids but suddenly something happens: parents protest the refusal of the soldier to let their little girl pass (she is really small - two and a half years old). I approach the soldier and say: look, little kids always pass. On Fridays they require permits (on Friday people pass with prayer permits, unlike the rest of the week) only from age seven and sometimes from age five.
The soldier says: just the opposite, it is forbidden to let children under 7 pass. He's courteous and smiling but convinced he's right.
I laugh: you just got confused, I promise you that children under the age of 7 are passing today, please ask your commander.
Fortunately for the family an officer just walked out from one of the rooms inside and I ask him to talk to the soldier. He indeed explains the procedure and the family passes. I did one good thing today! What Hagit called "small victories" in the magazine article about her in “Haaretz".
No special events the rest of the shift, but there is a constant stream of people and a comic ballet of fingers changing / racing on the biometric contraption.
Translator: Charles K.
Southern Hebron Hills
We went through the Meitar checkpoint at 10:30, toward Umm Faqra on Highway 317 which is deserted. On the way we saw settlers hanging a very large sign at Carmel: The new neighborhood will be built here soon (for Obama’s visit?). The roads are empty all the way to Hebron.
Two serious incidents in Hebron, at the Cave of the Patriarchs checkpoint:
A settler throws coffee at a Palestinian and flees. The Palestinian starts chasing him, and in response to shouts from the settlers the soldiers chase the Palestinian and politely ask him to calm down. The Palestinian then approaches the soldier to explain what happened, the soldier apologizes, says he didn’t see the settler throwing coffee, and that’s why he simply tried to calm things down.
A settler in a white car sped past the checkpoint and hit a 4 year old Palestinian boy, injuring his right leg. We called the police; by the time they arrived (in 3-5 minutes) a paramedic had recommended an x-ray. The police officer handled matters politely and conscientiously; he contacted the Red Crescent to continue treatment.
Since no one had recorded the license number of the car the police will examine security camera recordings at the time of the incident to identify the vehicle’s owner.
‘Abed is worried about the difficult economic situation, and about Abu Mazen who isn’t looking out for his people, and about Hamas creating tensions.