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.
Translation: |Bracha B.A.
15:00 – A'anin Checkpoint
The checkpoint opened on time and a few people cross without any problems.
15:20 – Shaked – Tura Checkpoint
All the sophisticated inspection equipment is not operating. In the sleeve (which is locked) people are not entering the inspection booth and all the metal barriers are open. The traffic lights are also not operating. People cross through on the road and are checked quickly in the soldiers' position.
16:10 – Reihan Barta'a Checkpoint, Seamline Zone Side
People are descending the sleeve and disappearing into the terminal. Padding has been added to the bars of the turnstile to prevent people from being injured when there is a crowd. There is presently no crowd. One person remarks, "What a checkpoint today, wonderful." An elderly man crosses through this "wonderful" checkpoint towards the seamline zone wearing a suit and holding his belt in his hand. Another person is disappointed with the drinking fountain that is not producing cold water today. He asks that we see to it that another drinking fountain is installed.
A detainee was waiting on the bench inside the terminal throughout the time we observed the checkpoint.
Two Palestinian workers are working at the end of the sleeve near the entrance to the terminal. Evidently they are building a path that will allow people to return to the West Bank without passing through the terminal, such as the one at Jalameh or Shaarei Efraim.
16:50 – We walk up the sleeve towards the parking lot. People coming down greet us on the way.
Translator: Charles K.
A soldier mooned young Palestinian girls.
A long, winding approach road for trucks is being completed at the Meitar checkpoint.
The balloon floats in the sky above Highway 60.
Everything’s as usual on the way to Hebron.
A Walla journalist called Hagit after he heard a strange account of a soldier who’d dropped his pants and mooned onlookers. He asked us to look into it and get back to him with exact details.
Border Police soldiers at Curve 160 hadn’t heard anything about such an incident, not in their unit. Nor did passersby know of anything.
After investigating a little more it turned out that the incident occurred in the Tel Rumeida area where Shimshon battalion soldiers are now stationed. We went there. They told us that Palestinian news agencies reported on such an incident, which occurred near Beit Hadassah. We managed to locate the man who saw and documented the event with his camera. With his help, and our driver, M.’s, translation, we contacted him.
He agreed to leave his work in H1 and come meet us. He said the incident occurred the day before yesterday. Three soldiers (two in civilian clothes, one in uniform) incited the Palestinian girls living near Beit Hadassah. They cursed them (he’s embarrassed to repeat what they said), etc. He started photographing. The soldiers began cursing him: sharmouta [bitch], etc. He continued to photograph when one of the soldiers, wearing green pants, turned around and dropped them in front of the women.
The Palestinian filed a complaint about the soldiers at the Kiryat Arba police station. They called the unit commander and also brought the soldiers. The man who complained told us that apparently they took the matter seriously and the soldiers were punished. That’s cold comfort.
We put the journalist in contact with the man who’d taken the photographs. We’ve done our part.
Two detainees at the Pharmacy checkpoint. The Border Police soldiers answer us politely today as well. They say they have to check something, and that the detainees will probably be released very soon. The two detainees say that live nearby and are detained every day. We were pleased to see that everything ended well in a few minutes.
A towed vehicle near the checkpoint, with equipment to disperse demonstrations, ready for action.
As usual, Hebron never brings out the best in anyone.
Translator: Charles K.
We left the Shokat junction at 06:30. On the way we saw, on the hills opposite K’ramim, people on their way to Israel who don’t have work permits. We didn’t see a military vehicle waiting for them on the Israeli side.
At 06:39 we entered the Meitar checkpoint. It was empty. Our guests from overseas commented with amazement that it was functioning well. About 5,000 people had crossed by now.
When we arrived, there were women and children there, on their way to visit relatives in Israeli prisons. When they reached the booths they were told to wait until 07:00. Meanwhile another wave of workers had arrived.
On Highway 317, near Zif, we saw a large number of children walking to school.
Curve 160 – children on their way to school.
Three detainees near the Cave of the Patriarchs. I asked what was happening and received a pretty rude reply from a Border Police soldier: “You’re interfering with my work.” We waited eight minutes and they were released. While they were detained and waited to be checked additional people crossed without being detained or having their documents inspected.
The town of Hebron is dead but Israeli flags fly proudly in the streets.
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.
Guests: Two tourists from the US accompanying Netanya
Translator: Charles K.
In photo: flying checkpoint in Dahariyya.
There are no more people crossing on foot when we drive away and vehicles cross quickly, without problems.
A flying checkpoint at Dahariyya – reservists, very strict, stopping almost every car – it’s not clear why. One man waits a very long time because he doesn’t have his ID with him. Annoying…
In general, almost no military vehicles.
Much less military presence than last week. Nor is anyone detained. The road on the worshipper’s route has been repaired.
Two occupation stories:
1. The carpenter living on the Tzion route (below Beit Hameriva) who wants a permit to bring his vehicle in (40 Palestinians already have such a permit) has been refused for more than a month…He asks us for help – Captain Amir puts him off, sends him hither and yon…He notices us next to Beit Hameriva and asks for our assistance – we gave him Chana’s phone number; we hope she can help him. His family and his pregnant wife who can barely descend the stairs down to their home past Beit Hameriva wait in the car…
2. A Border Police soldier in the parking lot opposite the Cave of the Patriarchs is “nice” to us until he realizes we’re a left wing organization, and stops talking to us. He also yells at an Arab tour guide from East Jerusalem with a blue ID card who wants to park next to ‘Abed’s shop – you’re an Arab; you can’t park here.
Apartheid and the occupation routine. One of the tourists who’s with us says, “it’s a ghost town”…and I have nothing left to say.
Translator: Charles K.
“They don’t honor the permits they’ve issued” because “today they’re screening.”
Maybe because of last week’s uproar on the Temple Mount, maybe because of the heat wave, maybe because that’s just how things work here, today they decided upstairs to change the rules. Except they didn’t bother to notify in advance the people subject to those rules. Today, Friday, the day for worship, for errands, an order came down from on high (high up where, exactly?) that only women, and men older than 60, will be permitted through for prayers. Others, with standing permits (merchant’s crossing permit), aren’t allowed through. Those who’d made appointments ahead of time, who gathered all the required permits, who’d received a special permit for today (for a consular or a hospital appointment) aren’t allowed through.
At 09:00 the area beyond the initial revolving gates is full of Israeli police and DCO representatives of various ranks, but the latter keep quiet (except for one polite young man) and leave things to the police (?), in particular to an officer who refuses to speak to us and behaves superciliously – if not rudely - to everyone. Only one lane operating.
The police officer stands on the other side of the bars and screens those waiting. “Irja la’aura” [go back]!” he tells everyone who doesn’t meet this morning’s criteria. And there’s no appeal. Those turned back push through the ones waiting between the bars. There’s no humanitarian lane. The only crossing is via the screening lane - for old men and women, the halt and the lame.
A man with a permit, who’s employed as a painter and was supposed to finish a job for an elderly couple (who are living in the midst of the mess and are angry that the painter isn’t coming to complete the job as promised, and they can’t put everything back in place by themselves, and it’s Friday…) tried to go back (and perhaps even sneak in) through the congested line. His permit was confiscated. He’ll be able to get it back at the DCO, probably after a complaint is filed against him and he’s fined…
A polite DCO representative explains that many eyes are on the checkpoint today, that the orders from above can’t be altered. He hopes that people will be allowed to enter after 12:00 (after the consulates close, after losing a day of work).
People at the checkpoint are very angry. Some of the stories: about cement costing thousands of shekels scheduled to be poured today, and won’t be; about the Jewish owner of a flower shop waiting at the store for his worker, not able to understand why his colleague is being detained, particularly on Friday, when he’s even more urgently needed; about a university teacher from Italy, married to a Palestinian, who spent weeks assembling all the required permits to go to the consulate with her family (her son is leaving to study in Italy), and she’s irate, weeping, humiliated. “She’s not yet used to such treatment,” says her husband. She’s lived here for five years and still hasn’t come to terms with the arbitrariness and helplessness that is the lot of her new compatriots.
Dozens of people crowd at the fence, running back and forth, stretching hands with documents toward every approaching officer, pleading for understanding, for permission. “You want us to become violent,” says one man, a merchant who’s been refused to cross on business, “but we won’t succumb to temptation. And eventually you’ll collapse.”
The occupation routine at 'Azzun 'Atma: hunting people in Israel illegally.
06:16 The road from the Oranit terminal to 'Azzun 'Atma – Some cars are parked on the road; perhaps there had been an accident. There’s also a police car and a car in the middle of the road. It seems strange, until we notice a number of Palestinians and a police officer on the roadside and another who comes running from the road into the field. We stopped and went to see what was happening: a few Palestinians fleeing through the field to the 'Azzun 'Atma fence, chased by a police officer. We hear a shot, but nothing happens as a result. The police officer who ran along the road joins his pursuing colleague. The police officer standing next to the Palestinians is holding something that looks like a shiny, sparkling, silver pistol which he puts in their car. A Taser?
Meanwhile the men fleeing have disappeared into the olive grove, followed by the police officers. The group detained by the roadside (four young men and one older man) is gathered around the police officer, conducting some kind of dialogue with him. One stumbles; it looks like he has trouble walking. At one point he lifts his shirt to show his companion his back. Had he been hit by the Taser?
It’s clear that the young men went through a hole in the fence to the road trying to get a ride to work in Israel, without permits.
After 15 minutes, the pursuers returned empty-handed. A discussion is held with the youths who were caught; they give their IDs to the police officers. We decided to continue to 'Azzun 'Atma, expecting the group to be brought there. Meanwhile all the cars drove away, except for the police car and the one standing in the middle of the road.
06:45 'Azzun 'Atma – Many laborers are waiting outside; the line is short and advances rapidly. The revolving gate is finally working, allowing the soldiers to control the crossing and prevent congestion.
We didn’t see the young men who were caught. When we returned to that spot we saw them still standing there with the police officers.
07:15 Habla checkpoint – Many have already gone through; people cross in record time.
07:25 The children’s buses arrive and cross quickly. There seem to be more people than usual today, but it doesn’t slow down the crossing. Everyone’s smiling, saying hello to us; the occupation routine.
08:00 Eliyahu gate – Cars are being inspected; there is no line at the pedestrian crossing.
08:15 Falamya checkpoint – Quiet. Signs of the fire are still visible next to the repaired gate. A flock of sheep arrives, goes through without inspection. Carpets of hyacinths are in full bloom along the way – magnificent. A constant trickle of people at Central West Bank
Translation: Yael Bassis-Student
15:15 Tura -Shaked checkpoint
A company of soldiers visits the checkpoint. A group of women and children crosses into the West Bank. We go all the up the sleeve without being stopped. We talk with the female soldier. Few people go through the checkpoint.
15:50 – We leave. On the way home we leave a bag of clothes at the village of Amreecha.
16:05 Ya'abed-Dotan checkpoint
There is a line of waiting cars on both sides of the checkpoint .Usually there are no inspections nor delays here. Cars are delayed today for a rather long period of time. Soldiers inspect every other car. Only one car goes through at a time. We are not used to seeing such long lines at this checkpoint. Usually vehicles cross in no time. All of a sudden the situation changes and the soldiers let drivers go through without inspection. Cars from area A waited 15 minutes. Again some vehicles are stopped for questioning, especially cars coming from the West Bank.
We are told that 3 exits/entrances at the village of Ya'abed are blocked; one person reported waiting an hour to get through.
16:50– We leave.
17:00 Barta'a-Reihan checkpoint
We went down the sleeve to the terminal. The turnstile works non-stop and everyone crosses. Two windows are open. An illegal alien is detained, sitting on the bench at the entrance.
17:30 We leave.
in the photos:
1. Israeli police detaining an israeli vehicle at the enterance to Yatta, in area A, where Israelis are prohibited to enter.
2. A new blockage (put only yesterday) on the way connecting the vineyard belonging to the settler Menachem Livni and Bani Na'im.
Translator: Charles K.
Southern Hebron Hills
We drove to Hebron on Highway 317 to meet a man from Yatta and give him a present from our northern colleagues and from me in honor of his son’s birth. He thanks us very much, feels uncomfortable: “Isn’t it enough that you help me; must you also give me a present?”
I tell him that I hope he’ll soon be able to support his family and won’t need our help, but for now we women understand what it’s like for someone who’s just given birth and ask him to buy whatever she and the baby need.
People tell us that the police enter Area A at Yatta, arresting and fining people, even though they’re not allowed to do so. We actually saw them, and asked the police officer whether they’re permitted. “Of course,” they say, “because we’re using a security vehicle; it’s armoured.” So they’re allowed, and anyway “stop bothering us and leave.” An ill five year old boy lies in the detained vehicle. The police officers say he’s ok, they talked and joked with him; he’s pretending to be very sick just because we’re here. We didn’t want to make trouble so we “bothered” them only a little more, and drove away hoping the situation would be quickly resolved. Someone should check with the Israeli police to determine whether they’re outside/above the law and permitted to enter Area A, like they’re allowed to park in a handicapped spot, etc.?!
Beni Na’im, Sa’ir, Kvasim junction, Dura al Fawwar
We drove to the area of the vineyard belonging to Menachem Livni, the settler, bordering the town of Bani Na’im. There’s in fact a new roadblock between them. “There were disturbances yesterday,” we’re told. We saw the rocks and debris left behind by the fury. We wanted to see whether there were any signs on Highway 60, particularly at the entrance to Sa’ir, of demonstrations during the funeral there yesterday of the prisoner who died in the Kishon jail. Other than the military presence at the Beit Anun junction and at the entrance to Sa’ir, all was quiet.
On the way back, at Kvasim junction and at the Dura al Fawwar junction the soldiers who came down from the pillbox appear to have been sent reinforcements. Reservists wander around.
Construction has resumed on Bassam’s roof – Amira Hass wrote about his suffering from the proximity to Beit Hameriva. Let’s home the hoodlum settlers let him be.
A small boy – 12 years old, we’re told – has been detained at Curve 160. The soldiers say he threw rocks. His mother and other adults were talking to the soldiers when we got there. After a discussion the boy is released; he and his mother walk to their home in the Jabel Johar neighborhood. People from TIPH are also there, writing down details of the incident. We tell them we’re afraid that the boy was released because of us, but that they’ll come arrest him at night. We gave them our phone numbers and asked to be notified if that happens.
Soldiers everywhere on Shuhadah Street. There are also police at the cemetery. A funeral is underway; the family “benefits” from a military and police escort. “Why?”, we ask. A veteran police officer whom we recognize tells us that the route is guarded during a funeral. The soldiers call it the Chicago route.
We continued along Shuhadah Street. Two soldiers at Gross Square stop us: “Are you allowed to drive here?”, they ask. “Aways,” we reply. “Why should today be any different?”
“It’s forbidden,” they say.
“And who are you?”, one of them asks, noticing M., our driver.
“I’m a human being,” he replies.
The super-motivated soldier wants to detain M. to check his identity. We inform him there’s no reason to detain or to check him and drive on, to his annoyance. He calls for us to stop; his cries echo in our ears. Someone apparently explained to him that he’d gone overboard. We were able to continue.
Soldiers as usual at all the checkpoints on Shuhadah Street and at Tel Rumeida.