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.
Today we came via the Tarqumiya checkpoint.
All the laborers have crossed. Many fewer vehicles of all kinds parked here than at the Meitar crossing.
We met an old acquaintance at the grocery at the entrance to Idna on Highway 35. He lost his son, who was shot by our forces a few years ago on his way to harvest olives; he’s joined the organization of bereaved families. He’s older than 70 and isn’t permitted to enter Israel. When he travels to Jordan he’s detained for three hours in each direction and doesn’t understand why. A younger relative of his who attends the meetings told us they asked members of the group for help. I gave him Sylvia’s phone number; according to her, someone his age is entitled to appeal and it’s worth doing.
Two red signs have been erected on the road at the turn to Idna, reading: This road leads to a Palestinian locality. Entry by Israeli citizens is dangerous. That’s different from the version referring to the prohibition against entering Area A, which is illegal. Such signs have recently been erected all along Highway 60, at all the entrances to Palestinian localities. What’s the significance of the different wordings of the red signs? Who knows.
Another red sign very politely explaining the behavior of the soldiers at the checkpoint has been erected next to the regular sign at the turn to the humanitarian checkpoint on Highway 35 at one of the roads to Hebron.
The “Shimshon” brigade is stationed there now. Israeli flags fly so very festively all along Derech HaBanim. We weren’t able to discover the reason for the party.
Border Police soldiers at the checkpoint on the road next to the Cave of the Patriarchs plaza. A boy about ten years old carrying an electric saw passes by, going toward the Fayha girls school. One of the soldiers wants to detain him. The boy keeps walking, the soldier runs to stop him. “Why?,” we ask? The soldier radios for instructions. A second soldier explains they’re only checking something. Over the radio they’re told to let the boy go, but to keep an eye on him.
Thus it ends, this time. We have the impression our presence influenced the soldiers’ behavior.
A little boy on his way to help someone at work meets, as a daily routine, soldiers who can harm him for the sake of Israel’s security. The chronicle of occupation.
Translator: Charles K.
We crossed via Tarqumiya today also and, for a change, we were inspected on entering, but by the police (“normal,” we were told), not by the company operating the checkpoint. In any case they weren’t interested in my ID, only M.’s (our driver), to our embarrassment. We thought of seeing what would happen if we entered and left in my own car and met the van a little farther on.
Signs in the area: “Something new begins – Naftali Bennett.”
The worshippers’ route is open, with no soldiers. Many pupils in the streets after school - because of the strike or exams, we were told.
It’s pretty quiet at ‘Abed’s. His son says there have been fewer tourists since the “Pillar of Cloud” operation.
A training tour of a tourist guide course from Jerusalem. The leader inquires why the shops are closed, what’s happening. The Nahal soldiers are still here.
A number of men have gathered at Tel Rumeida awaiting representatives of the local administration who will be coming with representatives of the Civil Administration. They’re coming to find out about the new military orders some of the residents of Tel Rumeida have received – the Palestinians, of course – regarding access to the upper part of the road. Some are members of the Abu Aysha family who live up at the end of the road; they have a special access permit but their guests, family members or a doctor are prevented from entering and reaching them.
They show us a blocked courtyard, what’s left of their factory that made copper utensils and employed 25 people; it’s abandoned and neglected because the Israeli authorities shut it down.
Religious tourists emerge from two buses and walk up, something we’re not allowed to do.
Again we meet Yitzhak Ben-Hevron, who was born in Hebron and returned to live here after the Six Day War. He says he’s friends with everyone and doesn’t get involved in the conflict.
We met a group of local notables at the checkpoint near ‘Azam’s place, accompanied by Attorney Samr Shehada, a resident of Sakhnin who has an office in Jerusalem and represents the residents vis-à-vis the Israeli representative. The latter is accompanied by an officer, all in connection with the military orders that apparently have to do with the checkpoints, and may include new elements or changes. We weren’t able to understand what was involved. They’re planning to stop at all those locations, a total of about 30.
We had sweet tea for dessert at ‘Azam’s magnificent new office.
Translator: Charles K.
We entered this morning via the Tarqumiyya crossing. At this hour – 09:30 – there are no laborers; all have crossed. Many cars parked on the Palestinian side.
They behave well in this direction. The landscaping is “glorious.” All the trees that were planted are wrapped in netting that gives them a consistent shape. Even the checkpoint’s trees aren’t allowed to spread their branches naturally. Ordnung muss sein.
as usual. One roadblock into Hebron, opposite the Khil house, has been reopened.
Truth be told, we entered apprehensively from either side after the recent incidents where cars were also stoned. Hebron is quiet. If someone hadn’t read the papers last week they’d think the occupation was routine.
Children everywhere; teachers are striking because they haven’t been paid.
The checkpoint at Curve 160 is manned as usual by Border Police soldiers. They look relaxed. We keep asking ourselves, “why do they also need a checkpoint there?”
Three buses are parked near the Cave of the Patriarchs. They’d brought soldiers, participants in some course. Probably “Monday Heritage Day.” Where are they headed? To the cemetery for the Tarpa”t martyrs. Then they’ll doubtless be taken to the museum of the Jewish settlement in Hebron. When they were in high school they took a trip to see where the Jews of Europe died, and now they’re being taken to see where the Jews of Hebron died. The victim-narrative-creation machine is working well.
The Tarpa”t checkpoint is quiet. Only the remnants of dispersing the demonstrations lie everywhere. Shuhadah Street is empty.
At the Pharmacy checkpoint Nahal soldiers ask us to be careful. “They threw stones at us only half an hour ago.” “They throw stones and flee,” say the soldiers.
True, the entire road is strewn with stones of all sizes. The soldiers aren’t wearing helmets. “Wear them,” we ask. They mumble something, grin but don’t put them on.
Men, women and children cross as usual. No one is detained.
We can’t stop thinking: how superfluous is the army’s presence there, and how much it damages
e v e r y o n e.
Translator: Charles K.
We tried again to go through the Tarqumiya crossing. There were no problems going in, of course. We’ll see what it’s like coming out.
Afternoon; many children coming home from school in Kiryat Arba and Hebron.
Many tourist buses at the Cave of the Patriarchs and next to ‘Abed’s shop.
The Nahal soldiers – the Shaham unit – behave like Nahal soldiers usually do, and we praised them for doing so.
A lone soldier at Tel Rumeida – he says it’s quiet, no problems. His company commander stopped his vehicle, which was full of soldiers; we had a pleasant conversation, each of us praising the other.
No one here – neither the soldiers nor the locals – expect any particular results from tomorrow’s UN vote and aren’t preparing for any special reactions here. In short – everything seems calm.
Again we’re stopped at the Tarqumiyya crossing when we return, asked for IDs and told to park on the side for vehicle inspection.
They also call Zion, the manager, who comes to talk to us. He claims that Machsom Watch provided the DCO with very inaccurate reports as regards the number of laborers crossing here every day; he wants to know what was the basis for the report. Everything’s counted on the computer, which has much larger numbers.
We got the impression that he was very dissatisfied; we couldn’t tell him who provided that report, nor when.
Does anyone know anything about it?
Translated by Naomi Gal
We started the shift in Tarqumya, where last week, as reported by Hagit on September 3, 2012, the passing through the checkpoint was annoying due to security guards’ conduct. .
Upset and angry, our driver forgot his license there, so we came back to find it.
The place was empty and we found the missing license. This time around the soldiers’ behavior was fair.
South Hebron Hills - Route 35, Route 60
All the way to Hebron there are no signs of the tension we’ll encounter in town later.
In Beit Anun girls are attempting to cross the busy road in order to get to school on the other side.
An Invisible teacher’s voice over a mike urges the girls to hurry up and get there on time, the girls are running. The time is 7:30. A Military vehicle is stationed nearby and Hagit expresses a naïve hope that maybe they are here to secure the dangerous passage of the girls.
Unfortunately the soldiers are not there to safe guard the girls and neither are the Palestinians.
There is no bridge across the road for pedestrians’ safety, as they would have built if this was a Jewish community. Jews’ cars are racing right there and Palestinians are not that careful either, although large groups of girls are crossing the road every morning.
So we waited until the last students crossed this busy, frightening road, Route 60.
The unusual tension can be felt already at the entrance to the city. Many vehicles for dispersing protests are parked around the Cave of the Patriarchs. The shops are closed.
On Curve 160 there are paratroopers, not the usual border police. We'll get back to them.
Checkpoint Tarpat and Shuhada Street
It seems they added more guard posts on the way leading to Shuhada Street.
Due to what we heard on the news last night we ask the soldiers about the situation. They talk about Molotov cocktails that were thrown in recent days. There are soldiers on the market’s roofs. There are soldiers everywhere on Shuhada Street.
We reached Trp”t checkpoint. The road is filled with stones, lemons and the remains of measures that were taken to disperse the protesters – something we have never seen before. It seems that a particularly harsh event had taken place here.
The zone’s commander we already know is sitting bleary-eyed with his soldiers at the bottom of Tel Rumeida. We approach them wanting to know what went on. He recognizes us and suggests we follow him to the other side of the metal detector in H1.
There we find a real battlefield; the road is strewn with stones, lemons, potatoes, among them the remains of tear gas grenades in quantities that leave no room for doubt.
The soldiers say that like in all cities in the West Bank there were demonstrations against the Palestinian Government, and especially against Salam Fayyad. From morning till late at night they kept throwing whatever they could find.
The IDF is in Hebron, in charge of peace and security, and this is where the soldiers became lightning-rods and got their “share”. In such a situation it’s easy for the local leadership to divert all the rage at the soldiers and this is what happened.
The soldiers point at the many vegetables that were thrown and say: they demonstrated against the cost of living. Isn’t a shame to waste so many lemons?
The devoted and polite officer does not agree with us that they should not be there in the first place. He is convinced that if the IDF would not be there, then these kinds of events will take place in Israel.
He, too, tells about soldiers being attacked two days ago and the throwing of a Molotov cocktail.
We, who saw aplenty in this impossible city, never saw anything like that.
We went back to curve 160 because last week we heard that little girls who were passing on the carousel were injured when their feet got caught, commotion ensued and an army medic treated them. The soldiers knew nothing about it, were not there when it happened and did not encounter such cases themselves.
When we suggest they should lift the gate in the morning and at noon, when small kids are on their way to school, so that they won’t get entangled in the carousel, they say they have no authority to make decisions and that such a request should be addressed to an officer who is at least a Colonel. Guy Hazut, who was the Territorial Brigade Commander, left, and we still haven’t met the new one, so we called Hannah in Ramat Gan and agreed that she would try to do something about it.
On second thought, I do not understand why they put obstacles such as the carousel. The yellow gate is there to monitor the passage of cars from Jabal Johar toward Zion Route that are on the way to neighborhoods around the Cave of the Patriarchs (of course, we do not justify the existence of the gate but you could find a 'rational' explanation for its existence in Hebron’s weird logic).
But why make it difficult for the few people who pass by and for kids on their way to school? Again a question that’s blowing in the wind.
According to “B'tselem” activist who was there, the soldiers (paratroopers) who joined the Nahal soldiers are more humane than the border policemen that were there during the last two years, since this curve turned into a checkpoint.
Coming back, we met people from Dhahariya zone who told us about a tough day of outrageous demonstrations involving burning tires, etc. There is a lot of anger over the bad economy and the powerless leadership that lacks authority, and is only concerned by its own needs. If you listened carefully you could detect that there might be others responsible for this situation.
Translator: Charles K.
At 06:40 there are no laborers on the Palestinian side of the crossing. Many are waiting for transportation on the Israeli side. It should be clear that Israel is also responsible for the Palestinian side because it’s in Area C according to the Oslo accords. The Israeli army is sovereign in this occupied territory.
An army jeep observes what’s happening at Samu’a. There’s almost no traffic on this road, but Big Brother is watching. The hill opposite Samu’a is covered with blossoming sea squills. Has autumn arrived?
People are still praying in the synagogue as we drive past the illegal outpost below Giv’at Ha’Avot. Responsibility for both the Pharmacy checkpoint and the one at Curve 160 was transferred this week from the Border Police to the Naha”l brigade. Soldiers still sit on the roof of the house at the junction of the worshippers route.
A sewer pipe is being laid on the Tzion route. The workers are Palestinians; the funding comes from the Kiryat Arba local council. The Palestinians have permits to work in the settlements.
Today children pass through all the checkpoints on their way to school without having their satchels inspected. TIP police observe at all the checkpoints. One even speaks fluent Arabic and has friendly discussions with the children.
At the Tel Rumeida checkpoint the teachers are allowed to cross through the side entrance without going through the magnemometer. I hope that continues, because it always leads to an argument.
A little girl from the family living just past the checkpoint gets stuck in the revolving gate at the Pharmacy checkpoint; her weeping is heartrending. I run over and pick her up. The soldiers, who’d formerly asked me not to come near, don’t stop me; “heartbreaking,” one of them mutters. Her mother comes down; we see that the girl was only very frightened, but not hurt. The family gives me a cup of tea and the fear passes. An old man who wants to cross, bypassing the checkpoint without being inspected by the soldiers, has a short discussion with them. The soldiers don’t prevent me from standing beside him quietly. I recognize him from past visits; once again, the heart-wrenching tale of the four shops he once had next to the checkpoint, and today nothing remains. The pleasant TIP soldier continues to listen to him. Classes have already begun in the Al Ibrahimiyya school, even though the renovations haven’t been completed.
Peace activists also stand at all the checkpoints.
Muhammad, from the grocery in Idna, tells us that the soldiers come down from the pillbox every afternoon. He says, grinning, that it’s so they won’t fall asleep. He shows us where they leave the plastic barriers from the checkpoint near his shop. Muhammad is a member of the group of bereaved families; he asks whether I’ve seen Ruby Damalin’s film – After Peace… We were both moved.
We get here at a quarter of nine in the morning. Tzion, the checkpoint manager, says that every day 4000 laborers come through here by 07:20, and by the time we arrived 250 vehicles had also been inspected.
When we arrive we’re asked where we came from. Kiryat Arba, we reply. They take our IDs and tell us to wait for the vehicle inspection. Five cars cross without being inspected while we wait. Why!? Because our driver is Arab, unlike those in the other cars, even though they all have Israeli IDs. Have we already mentioned racism? There are 15 cars in the vehicle inspection line with us, and 13 staff. The procedure is as follows: the driver and passengers take all their belongings to the scanner, put them through and move to the shed where they wait for the underside of the car to be inspected with a mirror and for the dog handlers. It can take up to an hour. Today one of the drivers is a young woman from Kafr Qassem who went to Hebron to return the wedding dress she had rented for her wedding. They’re waiting for her; she’s afraid to go through alone and doesn’t stop crying. Since I’m the only other woman there she was glad to receive my help; I intervened to ask that they inspect her more quickly. It turned out that the bottleneck was a shortage of dogs, who were tired from the morning’s inspections. Tzion, the checkpoint manager, approached me to again explain the reason. I wonder aloud: If the settlers were required to undergo that inspection every day, would the same thing happen? He admitted that he already knows all the drivers, and certainly know us, so why are things like this? The answer lies with the lord of injustice and the crossings unit.
But Justice Levy says there’s no occupation.
Translator: Charles K.
We decided to go through Tarqumiya again, despite the problems they always cause us on our way back to Israel. Another very rainy day, gray and foggy, barely able to see ten meters ahead on the road…
Streets almost empty; the soldiers in some of the positions can also shelter inside. We went into the grocery at the Tel Rumeida junction; the soldier (a first sergeant) immediately arrived from his position to check: “You’re here? You’re doing a great job." We went over to their position and were greeted coldly by both soldiers – that’s an understatement – including one who spat in our direction.
They stop people randomly, check their documents and also their belongings.
A tour of religious teenage girls near Beit Hadassah, despite the cold and rain.
On the way to the Cave of the Patriarchs we learned that, as of yesterday, there are new signs: No entry from here; you have to go around (what’s the idea?)
Yehuda, from “Breaking the Silence,” joins us to drink ‘Abed’s terribly sweet tea, telling us that he’s just about to meet a tour from the National Security College, at their request. He’s not hoping for much, though he’s glad to know that they include people who aren’t from the security services (staff from government offices and elsewhere…)
With respect to the eighth grade tour from Jerusalem, and Itamar Ben-Gvir’s presence, he says, “It was terrible.”
On our way back to the Tarqumiya crossing the almond trees were already lovely, the anemones on the verge of fully blossoming, but the crossing was again unpleasant; we’re inspected as if we’re under suspicion…(?)
Translator: Charles K.
Many laborers arrived despite the rain and fog. They’re waiting on the Israeli side of the crossing for their employers to pick them up
Nothing out of the ordinary along the road. The weather affects everyone.
The security guard at the entrance to Kiryat Arba again asks who we are, and we again must remind him that we’re all citizens with equal rights [that’s what’s written, at least] and that it’s unacceptable to demand an ID only from someone who doesn’t look Jewish. Again he explains that he has the authority and instructions from the police to ask for IDs. Again he calls “big brother;” what a quixotic battle in one of the bastions of Israeli racism. We’ll continue; even stones are worn away by water.
Golani soldiers in the town since last Thursday. Their signs stand out at the base at the entrance to town.
Rain, fog and bone-chilling cold.
Hagit and Shachar again walk along the new apartheid path which is marked similarly to those of the Nature Protection Society, indicating the shortcut for residents of Tel Rumeida, beginning at the stairs up to the Cordova school/
I remain with our driver because of what has happened in the past; it’s not a good idea to leave him alone here.
They, of course, run into a soldier who reminds them that this path is restricted to the Jewish residents of Tel Rumeida. And, of course…a bottle is thrown at them from one of the trailers.
That’s how it ends this time. Otherwise, nothing special occurred.
Next to one of the houses along the road down from Tel Rumeida to the Tarpa”t checkpoint we met a man who lives there. He’s a physician working in town, in the H1 area.
“Everything is ok,” he says. “It’s hard, of course, that I can’t drive my car from home to the hospital,” but everything is ok.
Everything is deserted and closed down, even – by and large - around the Cave of the Patriarchs. There are always Jewish visitors coming in groups, despite the weather.
We drove home via the Tarqumiya crossing.
Quiet and deserted. The soldiers came down from the pillbox next to the grocery but haven’t detained anyone.
At Tarqumiya they’re as “nice” as ever. Again the questions – who are we, where did we come from. Again asking to see only M’s ID. We insist they check ours also. Again they send us to the inspection area on our right. They open and inspect the car. Again they ask for our IDs. The inspector smiles apologetically. “Orders.” “Can’t she exercise any discretion?” we ask. Can’t you see we’re not security risks? A shrug. “Do you also ask residents of Telem and Adura for IDs?”
“Yes,” she replies grudgingly. Why don’t we believe her?
Translator: Charles K.
We saw the first workers from the Sansana checkpoint when we left Omer at 6:30 AM. And when we went through on the way to Hebron, the shed on the Palestinian side was empty. The road was pretty crowded, mostly with cars bearing PA license plates. Boys and girls walked to school by the side of the road. The landscape these days, just before winter, is particularly lovely, the plowed fields a deep brown color, the vineyards turning yellow. Clouds slowly cover the blue skies. And here we are, at the checkpoint before Giv’at HaMoreh. On our left, the buildings of the illegal outpost that keeps growing.
Soldiers stationed in the house opposite the Worshippers Route, some watching the road. Checkpoint 160 is open; two PA cars go through. We meet CPT and TIPH people, who monitor the crossings used by schoolchildren. It’s nearly 8 AM; the air fills with the sound of some march coming from loudspeakers of nearby schools. I was able, for the first time, to peek in the Havat Yehuda compound adjoining the military base on Shuohada Street – King David Street - the apartheid road, divided by a green net fence that begins at the base’s courtyard. It looks like the crossing via the base isn’t operating these days.
We returned via the Tarqumiyya crossing without being delayed. We briefly glanced from a distance but saw no improvement in the dilapidated shed or the overall cleanliness of the Palestinian side, despite promises to improve and clean up that entrance area.