9.14 The Eliyahu crossingis completely empty.
9.44 Huwwara CP. There are 3 soldiers at the checkpoint only checking cars leaving Nablus. One of the soldiers stands at the cement block with his weapon pointing at passing cars. A bus is delayed and the other cars go pass without being checked. (One soldier waves his hand like a traffic cop. Suddenly another two soldiers appear maybe they were in the bus? Another bus is detained and waits behind the first one. AN army jeep goes up from the circle to Griziem. A car and taxi pass without being checked.
10.10The bus is free and the one behind it is checked.
10.20 Beit Furik CP. Empty with little traffic.
The bar at Awarta CP is closed and locked.
10.50 Za'tara/Tapuach CP. No soldiers to be seen and also not in the sentry tower.
11.10 Salfit CP.Next to the entrance to Ariel settlement. One bar is open, another closed. Two soldiers at the entrance to Ariel open the checkpoint to taxis which pass without being checked.
11.30 Azzun Atma.This checkpoint of which there were rumours that it would be disbanded has become a real monster. Many cement barriers, passages, gates. And today it is much more difficult to see what is happening. An army jeep stands right inside and blocks the checkpoint. We did not see people waiting to pass.
Shomron crossing.7 cars in the direction of Israel pass swiftly.
The good news is that there has been much rain and the almond trees are in bloom.
6.15 Azzun Atma. It's raining all the time. There are a few workers next to the turnstiles and they go through quickly. The "Kfir" regiment's soldiers are welcoming. The sergeant tells us that this morning when they came to open the checkpoint 50 people were already waiting but now there are fewer and they go through quickly.
Shomron crossing.There are no police at the exit from Israel.
7.00 Za'tara/Tapuach. There are no soldiers at the checking posts.
At the checkpoints of Burin/Yizharno military activity.
7.20 Beit Furik.No soldiers
In the streets of the village the rain washes the streets and we do not see the children going their way.
Awarta.The yellow bar is still blocking the road. Also the large boulder is still in the middle of the road.
7.30 Huwwara CP.is not manned. The flags at the top of the tower have been replaced.
At the ascent Braha settlement is a soldier.
Za'tara/Tapuach CP. Two soldiers shelter from the rain at the post and do not stop the small flow of traffic.
Shomron crossing.The checking is quick as allways.
When we got to Kafr Kassem Nadin told us that the director of the centre at Kira had phoned to say that the women would not be coming to the centre because they were in mourning for a friend of theirs who had died. Therefore we decided to take a slightly longer tour.
10.00 Haris. The village was quiet and abandoned. Most of the shops were shut. It was rainy and misty. Outside the village in the olive orchards the almond trees were in bloom….beautiful.
10.10 Kif'l Harith. The village was completely empty. Here too we saw the almond trees in bloom.
10.15 Qira.There were a few people in the streets and little traffic.
10.25 Zeita. Here we saw no people or cars.
10.30 Einabus.Here there was more traffic, both of people and of cars. We went to the market in the middle of the village. Opposite us we saw the corpses of cows and sheep hung up on a line for sale and also for a meal. This is something we have not seen for a long time in the middle of a town.
10.35 Huwwara.We went through the village and came to the checkpoint. We saw a group of soldiers checking the cars entering Nablus. Most of the cars were allowed through immediately but sometimes one was stopped for a very long and detailed search. I asked the soldiers why there were such searches today and received the reply…"Routine checks." I asked the most senior soldier amongst them how he knew which car to check and he replies, "I already have experience. I have developed an insight and a knowledge which is particular to this." It is important to note that the opposite line of car which were coming from Nablus were not checked at all.
11.05 Za'tara/Tapuach CP. The checkpoint was almost empty……no soldier at all.
11.20 Shomron crossing….We go home.
09:30 We left from the Rosh Ha’ayin train station. There’s no English class today because the club is being used for local elections.
10:00 Tapuach junction. A few soldiers man the checkpoint but aren’t checking vehicles; traffic flows. (A few hours later we heard on the radio about a serious incident there. It turns out that the quiet is only temporary and apparent; a conflagration can erupt at any moment).
10:15 To Huwwara. The town is full of life. Some shops have elegant shop windows. Americanization infiltrates here also. Colorful advertisements, some in English. Even images of Bob Sponge Pants. On the other side of town – the checkpoint. Adjoining it – a new plaza, with a structure made of three arches, olive trees planted around it. Piles of sand and gravel indicate that construction at the plaza hasn’t been completed yet. We don’t see any laborers. The rain must have delayed the work. How wonderful that the Israeli occupation invests in esthetics…
The checkpoint is open and traffic flows.
10:40 The rain stopped as we drove to the Jit junction; the sun shines pleasantly. Almond trees follow nature’s orders, blossoming white and pink along the road. Funduq is quiet. Little traffic in the street, and few pedestrians.
11:00 Nabi Elias. Full of life. People come out to the streets after the rain stops.
Then to the Eliyahu crossing. Solitary Palestinian vehicles go through without inspection.
11:15 We return to Rosh Ha’ayin.
13:30-14:05 Habla agricultural gate
Few people crossing. No particular complaints this time. We seriously question how late in the afternoon the gate opens: 17:30-18:15!! That’s very late and dark during the winter; why only for three-quarters of an hour; why not earlier? We understand that most people return between 16:00 to 17:00.
14:10 Eliyahu gate
Not crowded. Two Palestinian vehicles being inspected off to the side.
More soldiers than usual on both sides of the checkpoint. They’re very busy, stop many cars, make people put their hands up for inspection. It turns out the unit was called because of a stabbing incident a short time earlier at the Za’tara junction (a Palestinian tried to stab a settler). The suspects, who hadn’t yet been located, were found while we were there. The checkpoint commander informed us so that we’d take care. The line of cars heading toward Nablus was very long (much longer than usual), which we attributed to the response to the incident at the Za’tara junction. Because of the long line we decided to see what was going on at Beit Furiq. We drove there, but found no soldiers; vehicles came through from the direction of Nablus.
Three military vehicles drove toward us in the town, going in the direction of Nablus.
16:05 Za’tara junction
Two soldiers stationed at the bus stop (two settlers were there also). One soldier in the observation tower and two more at the junction – one on each side. Cars went through without delays.
16:15 A military jeep and some soldiers stood at the entrance to Kifl Hars.
A fairly strong military presence today, compared to what we’d seen during previous visits two weeks and one month ago.
16:30 Azzun Atma
Only two soldiers on guard. The MP sits inside, inspecting documents. About 20 people on the line; it moves quickly.
We want to repeat that it’s important to ask Palestinians crossing through Habla whether the gate doesn’t open too late on winter afternoons (17:30-18:15), and whether it’s not already too dark. Because when we left occupied country before 17:30 the sun had already set to its west…
Translator: Charles K.
On Thursday, 17.1.13, the army demolished 12 Bedouin encampments at El Malih in the Jordan Valley. Bulldozers destroyed the tents in which the families lived and the sheep sheds, then loaded them onto trucks and left them on barren ground. Since then they’ve been living in the open, in the rain and the cold Jordan Valley nights.
On Saturday, 19.1.13, peace activists tried to come to express solidarity with them (in two buses) but the army closed the entrance to the road from Highway 578 (the Alon Road) all day. A truck that came from the west with tents for the residents was stopped at the Tayasir checkpoint and the army confiscated the tents.
The residents hesitate to re-erect tents, afraid the army will demolish and destroy them again.
09:45 Za’atara/Tapuach junction checkpoint – No inspections.
10:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – No soldiers. Two private cars with Israeli plates parked at the checkpoint. That was also the situation when we returned.
The cultivated fields between the settlements of Gitit and Mechora – These broad fields belong to the Gitit settlement which leases them to various people along with the generous water allocations they receive from Mekorot. It looks as if the settlement received more land and water than it could handle so it makes money from the resources it received for nothing or for almost nothing. While at the same time the Bedouin are expelled from their lands and refused water for household use and for agriculture.
We spoke this time to people working for one of those leasing the lands, an Israeli from Tayibeh. The workers are from Aqraba (Palestinians from the West Bank). They said they weren’t allowed to enter the Jordan Valley through the Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint. That’s strange, because there are now no restrictions on entering the Jordan Valley. They were forced to walk a very long way through the hills. Since then, they’ve been sleeping there. Someone brings them food for NIS 30/day, which is deducted from their daily pay of NIS 80-100 (they aren’t all paid the same amount). But it’s still worth it to them to work and walk a long way through the hills because it’s hard for Palestinians in the occupied territories to earn a living.
10:55 Hamra checkpoint – Very sparse traffic.
We saw soldiers training all along the way, also with live ammunition, very near the shepherds and their flocks, and also near the K. family’s encampment, about 200 meters away.
Hamam el Malih – We visited two encampments that the army had destroyed ten days ago. At one we found N., a handicapped old woman, and her two granddaughters. She showed us the remains of the encampment and the sheep pen. Now they sleep in a tiny shed left from the demolition.
At the other we found only signs of destruction. The people had fled down to the wadi.
We met Amira Hass there, people from B’Tselem and representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
13:30 Tayasir checkpoint – We chatted with a few particularly nice reserve officers.
15:30 Tapuach junction/Za’tara checkpoint - Two Palestinian taxis detained in the fenced plaza, the drivers’ IDs taken to be checked on the computer. They were released shortly after we arrived because the computer wasn’t working. We couldn’t stay to see whether the Border Police are again sending people to be interrogated here by the Shabak, as we’ve seen in the past.
13:40 Habla. The gate is open. The car from the plant nursery comes out; one car enters.
14:00 A soldier closes the gate.
14:30 Huwwara. We see no soldiers. An Israeli flag flies. A monument with three stone arches under construction in the adjacent plaza. Large brown posters invite people to visit Itamar.
Heavy pedestrian and car traffic on the main street.
Tapuach junction. Soldiers on site aren’t conducting inspections. We go through the Shomron crossing on our way to Azzun Atma.
15:20 The checkpoint at Azzun Atma is closed; no laborers. Today is election day in Israel – a holiday, no one goes through to work except employees of the quarries, with permits. Four soldiers in position who don’t want to talk to us – “We don’t have to,” pointing to the Machsom Watch tag we’re wearing. The checkpoint has been renovated; a roof has been installed to shelter those crossing.
Translator: Hanna K.
At Azzun Atma the agricultural workers complain that there is a deterioration regarding authorizations for leaving the village given by the authorities.
06:15 Azzun Atma: A short queue, not many cars are waiting for the workers. People leaving say that this week "the CP is good". The soldiers of the "Kfir" regiment do not enable us to stand within the site. Clear signposts indicate to the workmen where to enter and from where to leave. Most of them take shelter in the newly erected hide-away because of the cold.
One of the workers complained that the policy of supplying authorizations to agricultural workers has changed. In the past his families received up to eight authorizations to leave and work in their fields which are situated beyond the CP. Now they give fewer permits and it is difficult for him to fulfill his workload.
06:40 Shomron crossing:The work has been completed. There is no police at the exit from Israel.
Za'tara/Tapuah: There are no soldiers at the checking posts, only in the posts around it.
The Yitzhar/Burin CPs: There is no military activity.
07:20Beit Furik: There are no soldiers. The streets of the village are quiet the children are on winter holiday.
Awarta: The yellow arm still blocks the passage. The big rock still lies in the middle of the road.
07:30 Huwwara: The CP isn't manned.
On the way up to Beraha settlement there is a soldier. There is one opposite the hitch-hiking station too.
In the square – energetic development work is going on. In its center a building is being erected, which simulates an arched archeological site, and around it there are olive trees. For the glory of the state of the settlers.
Za'tara/Tapuah: There are no soldiers at the posts.
Shomron crossing: The cheking is quick as usual.
Translator: Charles K.
09:55 Za’tara checkpoint
10:10 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
No soldiers. Two cars with yellow license plates are parked inside the checkpoint; they were also there when we returned.
10:35 Hamra checkpoint
Palestinian residents of the West Bank are allowed to enter the JordanValleyin their vehicles. Also, Palestinian Israelis are allowed through the checkpoint in both directions after the soldiers ask them for the purpose of their trip.
We ask the same questions every time we arrive at a checkpoint, because the rules change daily. Two weeks ago, for example, Israeli Arabs weren’t allowed through. The rules at the Tayasir checkpoint will be different from those at the Hamra checkpoint, even though both have the same purpose – to separate the West Bank from the JordanValley.
There was no traffic at the checkpoint while we were there.
10:50 Gochia gate
The gate is open! Someone broke through it. A fragment of chain remains, without a lock. We entered to find out why. No one at the first tent encampment knew who’d broken through, or why. They said it must have been the army. Such things happened recently when tanks broke through the gate to conduct maneuvers, and residents were also made to leave their homes.
They tell us the gate is usually locked. Whoever approaches is observed by the army’s cameras and a military vehicle shows up, but the gate is opened only for someone having a special permit to go through it. The person we’re talking to, who lives near the gate, doesn’t have a permit. He doesn’t know the criteria used to grant permits. It’s clear that the entire procedure takes a long time. People cross there to get to work. And anyway – why should there be a gate here, other than to embitter the lives of the residents? Nothing unusual occurred during the time the gate was wide open.
Soldiers training opposite the Ro’i settlement. They don’t enter the settlement’s cultivated area; they’re on the narrow path between the vineyard and the road. Last week all the residents of Hamam el Malih were forced to leave their homes for two days when the army conducted exercises among their tents. But to bother settlers – that's inconceivable.
We saw many soldiers training wherever we passed.
12:10 Tayasir checkpoint
Reservists on duty. They welcome us. West Bankresidents can come through with their cars. Israeli citizens aren’t allowed through.
Visit with D.’s family
We asked about their connection with this place. Their clan has lived here since Ottoman times. They used to migrate during years of drought when there was no grass for the sheep, even as far as the coastal plain, but have always returned because the land belonged to them. Part of the clan has fled to Jordanin 1967 and they were not allowed to return. They’ll come back when there’s peace, ‘insh’allah.
15:00 Za’tara junction (Tapuach)
A police car and two Palestinian cars parked in the plaza. They were stopped because one of the drivers had no license. His car was impounded and would be taken to Vered Yericho. He’ll have to pay a bond of NIS3000 until the trial. On the face of it, everything’s in order – he broke the law and has been punished accordingly. But there’s only one little problem – it’s an Israeli law, and the fines are set according to economic conditions in Israel. The economy of the occupied territories is that of a third-world country. The average daily wage is NIS70-80, less than half the Israeli minimum wage. NIS3000 represents a month and a half of wages, at least.