Translator: Charles K.
Za’tara checkpoint – Tapuach junction
At 10:45 and 17:00 the checkpoint wasn’t manned and people went through freely. Isn’t that a little strange, after “two explosive devices and a pistol” were discovered two days earlier? One soldier is in position on the hill to the southeast, overlooking the plaza.
Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
No soldiers at 11:00 or at 16:45.
Friends from the Jiftlik region told us that last week the checkpoint closed at 17:00 for seven hours. Long lines formed on both sides. M. also told us about his brother, a 21-year-old shepherd, who was arrested last week for no reason and detained at the checkpoint for hours. The first time, in the middle of last week, he was stopped for two hours at the Hamra checkpoint because “he came near the checkpoint with his sheep.” The second time, on Thursday, he was stopped near Kibbutz Mechora, about 10 km. north of the checkpoint, by soldiers claiming that settlers complained he threw a stone at their car. They brought him to the checkpoint and held him for 4 hours, handcuffed and blindfolded, as a “dangerous terrorist.” He asked for water but hasn't receive any, perhaps because none of the soldiers whose job involves contact with the local population knew Arabic. When the police arrived they asked the soldiers to explain where, exactly, the stone was thrown; they pointed toward the Jiftlik, about 15 km. away from where the youth was being held. Who’ll restore his lost dignity? Who’ll return the stolen hours?
At the Hamra checkpoint we met friends, Racheleh H. and Rony B., standing at the junction, about 100 meters from the checkpoint. In response, the soldiers at the checkpoint stationed one of their number in a sandbagged post, for their benefit, and had also shut down the crossing. A line of cars formed to the east; we all left and the checkpoint reopened.
We talked to A., head of the Bedouin council at Hamam el Malih: Yasser Sliman Qa’abaneh, a 17-year-old boy, was shot near Hamam el Malih, by soldiers on maneuvers in the area, among the dozens of Bedouin tents scattered around. Since he’d been shot from a distance, the injury from the bullet, which entered near his kidney, wasn’t critical. But when they asked the commander of the nearby base for help, he refused. He claimed the youth hadn’t been shot. The injured person was transported in a private car to the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus, from which he was taken to a hospital in Ramallah for an operation to remove the bullet.
About 60% of the area of the JordanValleyhas been declared a firing range – allowing the army to expel local residents. So many different excuses for demolishing homes and expelling their inhabitants!
About a month ago, Adel D. erected his tent in the area below Maskiyot. Every spring he settles here, for the summer, next to the permanent encampment of his three brothers. long before anyone had dreamed of establishing a settlement on the hill. In the winter he goes up the hill from the east, and descends to the valley in the summer. The shepherds have been doing so for ages. But now the settlers from Maskiyot (a relatively new settlement that began as a army outpost), led by Rami, the security coordinator, have grown envious of the brothers living next to the spring below their settlement. And perhaps they’re also hoping to expand their locality (which has already greatly expanded recently) and annex the areas inhabited by Palestinians. That same Rami called the army, which bound Adel for two hours and then forced him to load his belongings onto a cart and go eastward through the Tayasir checkpoint, toward Tubas. Their action was illegal; they were required to obtain an expulsion order and issue a prior warning which would have allowed the victim to bring suit. And so, out of the blue, the army received an order from the settlers and expelled the family from its land (which it leases from the Catholic Church whose headquarters in Israelare in Jerusalem, and to whom it pays rent).
The residents of El Farasiyya (continues A., head of the local council), who’d received demolition orders, requested a meeting with the Civil Administration. The same Civil Administration which is supposed to ensure the welfare of the local population of an occupied territory, but which in fact acts as the operational arm of its master, the army, and its job is to harm the population it is seemingly responsible for protecting. Representatives of the residents met with Asher, the Civil Administration representative, and with their attorney, Tauwfiq Jibran, and while they were talking 250 soldiers deployed among the tents and buildings and declared the location, which was full of children, old people and women, to be a training area!! For 100 years no soldier had even approached this densely settled area, and suddenly – a firing range!!! And if that wasn’t enough, the rest of the area was defined as a nature preserve, in which the region’s legal residents are forbidden to live, or even to enter.
How absurd it is to prohibit grazing in the area is evident, for example, in the Umm Zuka nature preserve, adjoining the Peles base in the northern JordanValley. It encompasses a huge area, with two signs welcoming visitors: “Umm Zuka Nature Reserve” (containing a list of prohibitions alongside information about the nature reserve), and… “FiringRange!!!” – that is, shepherds are not allowed entry to graze their flocks and herds on the neglected vegetation and, in the summer, on the tall thorns and thistles, while the army fires there at will, igniting huge fires among those dry thistles, and that’s what’s known, in occupied Palestine - as a nature reserve!!! There’s not one bird, not one living thing in the nature reserve – it’s all burnt, A. says. A visitor to this “nature reserve” is shocked by the neglect and the danger in the combination of a “nature reserve” and a military training area.
Translator: Charles K.
R., the security coordinator of the Maskiyot settlement, continues to abuse the Bedouin living next to the settlement, with the assistance and cooperation of military commanders in the area. Recently he again stopped Bedouin at the Tayasir checkpoint for no apparent reason, destroyed a tent in which people were living as well as a shade canopy for sheep on grazing land far from the settlement. Since the authority of security coordinators holds only within the borders of the settlements, he calls upon soldiers to carry out his wishes, and they do.
We again witnessed cars detained at the Za’tara (Tapuach) junction so the Shabak could interrogate youths, something that now seems to occurr all the time.
The arrest of the Bedouin at checkpoints for no reason, without calling the police or filing a complaint, usually at the initiative of one of the security coordinators, used to be very frequent a few months ago. Now they’re doing it again. When we read about the unconditional support of the settlers for the Jordan Valley deputy brigade commander, it was clearly not due only to the beating he administered but primarily because the army units in the area are the settlers’ contractors.
11:20 Za’tara junction – no inspections
11:40 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – no soldiers
Between Gitit and Mechora people are again cultivating lands next to the Mekorot pumping station. In prior years, Eyal Levy from Na’ama in the southern Jordan Valley was in charge of the work. There’s no settlement near the fields. The packing house adjacent to the cultivated fields is still abandoned. We note that the fields receive water from Mekorot.
We drove into the Hamra settlement out of curiosity. The guard at the gate asked us what we wanted. What’s most noticeable is the profusion of greenery and well-cared-for landscaping in this arid region. The water allocation to the Bedouin is 0 (zero), none even for drinking, and the permanent localities are allocated only one-tenth of what the settlements receive.
12:25 Hamra checkpoint
A semi-trailer is loading concrete cubes that had been placed on the road to divide it into lanes. The checkpoint is empty most of the time.
M.A., who lives opposite the Maskiyot settlement, was again arrested last Saturday and held for a few hours at the Tayasir checkpoint. R., the settlement’s security coordinator, initiated the arrest. The reason wasn’t clear. Since he has no formal authority beyond the borders of the settlement, he calls soldiers to carry out the punishment. Such behavior had been frequent in the past. Last Saturday he called soldiers to demolish a canopy that had been erected on grazing land three kilometers from the settlement to shade the sheep from the terrible heat.
A., a member of the Darajmah family, has for decades taken his flock during the summer to the area near Maskiyot. When he set up his tent this year as usual, R. appeared, accompanied by soldiers, arrested him at the checkpoint and, in his absence, ordered his sons to demolish the tent.
14:15 Tayasir checkpoint
The checkpoint is usually empty at this hour
15:25 Gochia checkpoint
As usual during recent months, it’s closed, no soldiers and no locals.
16:05 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
A large armored vehicle stands in the middle of the checkpoint. A soldier sits on the steps of the cab. Palestinian cars go through freely.
16:25 Za’tara checkpoint (Tapuach junction)
Two border police soldiers are taking a handcuffed Palestinian youth from one of the concrete shacks to the other side of the white metal fence, apparently (based on past experience) for interrogation by the Shabak. We don’t know how long he’d been handcuffed, nor what finally happened to him. We stayed only half an hour (after a long shift in the Jordan Valley). The border police soldier in charge said that it hadn’t yet been decided what to do with him. His family hadn’t been notified. He was filling out a report, apparently about the youth’s arrest.
The procedure is for border police soldiers, who are in charge of the checkpoint, to randomly stop taxis whose passengers include young men, send them over to park in the plaza, detain them until documents are inspected and someone decides who’ll be interrogated by the Shabak. If the interrogation drags on they try to convince the taxi driver to continue on his way, apparently because they don’t want cars to accumulate. During the half hour we were there, three taxis were stopped and one person was taken for interrogation. He hadn’t returned by the time we left. Two taxis continued waiting more than 20 minutes.
The border police soldier has more authority than the soldiers, which may be the reason they’re the ones who’ve recently been manning this junction, to make it easier to arrest people when instructed to do so by the Shabak.
While we were waiting a border police soldier went by, accompanied by a Jewish civilian (who seemed to be a friend or acquaintance) who threatened to smash our car windows if we didn’t leave immediately. He said he lives in the area. The police officer didn’t respond to his threats; both continued on their way.
Since the last time we were here two weeks ago, a fence has been erected between the road toward Huwwara, as well as the soldiers’ buildings, andthe plaza. Two pedestrian entrances allow people to move between the two areas. We saw a man in civilian clothes emerge from the other side of the white wall behind which the youths had been taken for interrogation, talk on a cellphone and then go back inside.
12:00 Bezeq CP
An indifferent guard opposite the road. We went on.
The Alon Road – from the west: Near the settlement of Ro'I, there are four loaded army tractors. And on the sides of the road small groups of soldiers are performing maneuvers.
12:20 Hamra CP
On the way we picked up a very old Bedouin who was walking in the middle of the road with a big stick. He slowly went on his way on foot to the encampment near the CP (north of the watch tower). Two armed soldiers ran up to him and after a few moments stopped and returned. This was the first sign of the tension and the alertness which were appar today in this CP. The commander came up to us with his rifle drawn ready for any possible event, in order to instruct us to leave "the military area which is closed" for such as us. After that there a captain and an assistantcame, called by radio. He threatened us and even called the police. His assistant yelled at us angrily: "You are delaying them for me." Afterwards, they let us alone. Perhaps he understood that he is not our commander. In the meantime workers are going through, some on foot and some in vehicles. They greet us. Those who have forgotten how they smoothed the path south of the CP for them are sent to it. Schoolgirls who forgot that road – were reminded of it. The schoolbags are screened in the vehicle at the entrance to the CP, and this causes additional delays. Gigantic carts with giant rocks from the area of Nablus on them, are on the way to Jericho. Our friend, R.S. stopped his tractor at the junction and came to ask about Daphna, and to invite us for tea. He tells us that the army comes at night once or twice a week to ask for documents. "He knows me, so I ask him why he has to see my documents over and over again. And the soldier answers that it isn't him, it's his commander."
13:20 We left.
As we were leaving we received an invitation to visit and have a meal at the house of friends in Jiflik.
At the Hamra junction, when we turned north, we saw a police pickup truck. Did they come in our honor?
13:40 Tyasir CP
Along the road that climbs up to the CP there are soldiers doing maneuvers or guarding military equipment. At the CP, there are the banners of Kfir. On the fence there is still the threatening sign: WELCOME. OPERATION 97. TOMORROW WAR.
When we arrived we met the schoolchildren who ran madly through the CP and the minibus arrived after them.
We know the soldiers at the post because they were there last week – one from the settlement of Yakir and the other from Jerusalem. The atmosphere here is much more friendly and calm. The soldiers are certain that this is their land and theirs alone. It is not a pleasure to serve in the CP, but they "are guarding their home". Every Arab is a "potential terrorist", and that is why "this CP is so important". Later the captain, who lives in the settlement of Kida, arrived with three sergeants. They all belong to the Kfir Brigade. They explained the meaning of the slogans to us, and also told us about the military "personality" that chooses them (company commanders, brigade commanders)". "To think in spots" was the idea of XXXX who was advanced to a new role a long time ago.
Traffic is very thin.
14:30 We left.
14:45 Bezeq CP
They asked us how we were, where we were coming from and where we were going. It was important to hear that each of us speaks Hebrew.
Translator: Charles K.
*About ten days ago the army demolished two buildings that had been erected without a permit in the area of Parisiyya, north of Hamam el-Maliah. Because the Oslo Agreements define the entire Jordan Valley as Area C, completely under Israeli control, since 1967 the Civil Administration has not granted any Palestinian a permit to construct even a shed or dig a cistern to collect rainwater, and every building constructed during the past 45 years is illegal and subject to demolition at any moment.
*At the Za’tara junction we witnessed activities that reminded us of how people were punished at the Huwwara and Beit Iba checkpoints during the difficult times before the Nablus checkpoints were removed.
*The Gochia checkpoint is closed as usual, as it has been during the past few months.
Za’tara junction 11:5-11:40
No inspections. We were waiting for a man blacklisted by the Shabak, who was to sign documents so Sylvia could file an appeal.
We picked up two young hitchhikers, settlers from Yizhar and Itamar. We had an interesting conversation, particularly with one of them, a hesder soldier from the Kfir brigade. We learned about him, his education, what he expects out of life, etc. At the Hamra checkpoint he met soldiers he knew from the brigade and said they’d received orders from their commanders not to talk to women from MachsomWatch.
Ma’aleh Efraim checkpoint
There were no soldiers when we came or when we returned.
Hamra checkpoint -12:20
Almost no traffic. Vehicles entering Area A go through quickly without inspection.
We saw two soldiers on the right side of the road before the Tayasir checkpoint, a water wagon, and two tents, and more soldiers some distance away.
Tayasir checkpoint - 14:00
Traffic is light here too. People crossing to Area A are inspected – they hand their IDs to the soldier. Those coming from the West Bank get out of their vehicles and are inspected, as are their belongings.
We spoke to a soldier who was on his way to the base next to the checkpoint, but he took care not to approach us (apparently because of the order given to the soldiers at the Hamra checkpoint).
M., who had been beaten in early February by the person in charge of security at the Rotem settlement, and filed a complaint with the police, is still waiting for the attacker’s trial to take place.
K. told us that ten days ago the Civil Administration demolished two buildings in the Parisiyya area even though they’d been built a few years ago, because they’d been erected without a permit.
Three tanks and three tank transporters opposite the Ro’I settlement.
Gochia checkpoint - 15:15
The checkpoint is closed as usual, and no-one is waiting, because everyone knows there’s no chance of it opening. We phoned Zaharan at the DCO, as usual, who said he’d been promised that soldiers would be sent to open the gate. We didn’t wait to see whether they actually arrived.
Za’tara checkpoint (Tapuach junction) - 16:10-17:25
A Palestinian taxi and a minibus were detained in the middle of the plaza and we went over to see what was going on. Two young men have been removed from the taxi; the driver said that one didn’t have an ID. They’ve been waiting for five minutes. Most of the young people are students at Al-Najah. They were taken to be questioned by the Shabak on the other side of the white wall concealing the buildings at the northeast part of the plaza. Students from the second taxi were also taken for questioning. When they returned, they reported they’d been questioned about various matters, about their families, and the interogators tried to enlist them to cooperate with the Shabak. Mostly, they were offered money. They refused.
One of the detainees from the first taxi returned about 20 minutes later. The soldier (there were 3-4 Border Police soldiers) tried to convince the driver to go on and leave the second detainee behind. The driver was uncertain, asked for our advice (we said it was his decision), and finally left. “His” detainee was made to stand inside a concrete cube next to an armed soldier, and stood there for another hour, until we left at 17:25. We weren’t able to speak to him. Two other young men stood near him, and after about half an hour a soldier brought their ID cards from the Shabak and they were released.
The students riding in the minibus were taken one by one, in turn, for questioning by the Shabak. The minibus was still waiting when we left – it had been delayed for more than an hour and a half.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen young people detained at the checkpoints. Three weeks ago the same thing occurred here. It turns out that soldiers stop taxis randomly and send young passengers to be questioned by the Shabak.
A rental car from the Eldan company also stood in the plaza, carrying a police officer and a soldier. A Palestinian vehicle without a license plate but with the license plate number on a sign attached to the windshield was directed to it. The two young men in the vehicle were detained for a short time, had a friendly conversation with the solder and then continued on their way.
Translator: Charles K.
11:00 Bezeq checkpoint
The intermediate days of Passover. The road north before us is congested, traffic crawling. We crossed.
The khamsin has an effect on the landscape whose colors are changing from shades of yellow to straw.
11:20 Alon Road, from the west
A helicopter, rotors turning, stands near the Ro’i settlement. Two soldiers beside it, one holding a bright orange cloth (?). It may be a target. A closed truck parks a little way off. There’s a figure in the grass near the helicopter. Maybe something happened? A shiny 4 x 4, three antennas jutting from its roof, turns off the road toward the helicopter. We photographed and left.
11:35 Hamra checkpoint
An army paddywagon is parked on the road where we’re allowed to stand, three sloppily-dressed soldiers in work clothes alongside. They’ve apparently been brought to clean it. The concertina wire covering “our” concrete block has been tossed aside. One of the soldiers picks it up and tries to put it back in place. For us? The soldiers inquire about us. One proudly says that “on behalf of his country” he’d kill Arabs for no reason at all. “But these days, if I even wave my weapon they’ll establish a commission of inquiry.”
The concertina wire has been put back in place. “Go on, go to other checkpoints, there’s action there. It’s quiet here. Let’s see whether they’ll behave as nicely toward them as we do after a 12 hour shift…”
Two officers approach. One sends the soldiers over to the paddywagon, annoyed they spoke to us. “Don’t talk to them!!!” He’s angry, repeats himself three times. The other officer asks for our identification. Since he’s not willing to show us his ID he doesn’t follow through and orders us to leave because it’s a military area…
Finally he tells us, as usual, not to interfere with what the soldiers are doing, “and don’t approach them!”
He indicates who “they” are by waving his hand in the direction of the checkpoint exit. We get it!!!
Someone stops to talk to us. The officer hurries over, “Don’t delay him here!”
The mobile luggage scanner begins operating. Female members of a family apparently on its way to Amman stand near us. Meanwhile (15 minutes) a line of eight cars forms from the east, as if it were impossible for nine male and female soldiers simultaneously to inspect a taxi carrying three pieces of luggage and cars crossing in the opposite direction.
12:25 We left
12:45 We met R.S. next to the Ro’i settlement (cf. Dafna Banai’s report from 29.3.12)
12:50 Alon Road
Girls returning from school
13:00 Tayasir checkpoint
Flags of the Kfir brigade. The threatening sign still hangs on the fence: Welcome. Operations Unit 97. War tomorrow.
Four soldiers at their post (nobody prevented us from approaching them), eating.
“Machsom Watch women?!” As if they didn’t know. One says he’s from Jerusalem, happy to talk on and on. The commander doesn’t try to stop him; instead, he descends to the post on the road. The second soldier remaining at the revolving gate looks - with his tangled earlocks and yarmulke – like one of the “hilltop youth.” He shyly admits to being an outlaw – he left home and enlisted despite the prohibition. He won’t tell us which settlement he lives in. “Tomorrow the army in which he’s serving could come down on his house. Do you understand?”, says his friend from Jerusalem.
13:30 We left.
They wished us a happy holiday and released us to the endless holiday traffic jam on the road through the Jordan Valley.
Translator: Charles K.
Photos: Hamra checkpoint, laborers going through
03:45 Bezeq checkpoint – Everything’s dark!!!
We crossed. Two figures walked on the road. We saw no guards at their posts.
04:10 Hamra checkpoint
Very cold and dark. We see only soldiers and the mobile package scanner.
A concrete cube (a base for a streetlight), which we’d used as an improvised table and to against has been wrapped with concertina wire. A soldier approaches and explains: “To prevent disorder, to keep people from climbing the pole.” He agreed to tell us that laborers will start crossing at about 05:00, but then his colleagues yelled to him, in words that would be inappropriate to repeat here, not to reveal “secrets,” to tell us that “all the laborers already crossed, there’s no congestion, go away.” The reprimanded soldier left us. He was followed by Gil’ad, the first sergeant, perhaps to inspect the condition of the concertina wire (his own initiative?)
Shortly after 04:30 a flow of arriving laborers begins and increases. They exit the checkpoint holding their belts in their hands. Some stop to pray, others go wait in the shed. Then they crowd into the vans and drive off. We met people who work in the settlements of Masu’a, Almog, Beqa’ot and Tomer, in the date groves and the vineyards, picking peppers and watermelons. Many, many people, some of them extremely young. The line of cars to the west was very long. One family is on its way to Saudi Arabia. A person we spoke to estimated that about 1000 people come through at this hour.
05:40 We left (frozen), even though the flood of people hadn’t ceased, because we wanted to see what was happening at the Tayasir checkpoint.
06:00 Tayasir checkpoint
It’s becoming a little lighter, but it’s still dark. Flags of the Kfir unit. The upper part of the threatening sign, Welcome. Operational unit 97. War tomorrow, is torn.
The soldiers at the post (we went up to it; no one chased us away) ask, Who are we?? The soldier receiving the answer didn’t understand it. He stopped questioning us after being reprimanded by his colleagues in the post by the road. After his commander whispered something in his ear, the soldier turned his weapon toward the people going through and toward us.
People keep going through; there appear to be no delays. They pass through the labyrinth of revolving gates and go down to the vans awaiting them. There are many fewer people here than at Hamra.
06:30 The checkpoint has emptied. It was light by the time we left. It’s still cold!!!
06:40 The minibus carrying the pupils came toward us. Three girls ran across the road to catch it.
We could see the soldiers south of the road down from Tayasir preparing for their morning training exercises.
07:00 Bezeq checkpoint
We’re asked how we are, we’re requested, in an unpleasant tone, to “open the trunk”…and we cross.
Translation: Bracha B.A.
10:20 – Salafit Checkpoint
There were two soldiers at the checkpoint, on active duty, who were unfamiliar with MachsomWatch, but were happy to talk to us. The gate here is open from 06:00 to 22:00 and the soldiers have a list of public and private vehicles that are permitted to cross. The soldiers telephone to get permission to pass for any car which is not on the list. While we were there a taxi with four passengers arrived which was not on the list, and the driver got out to present his papers, and the soldiers made a phone call to clarify the matter and get permission.
The civilian guard from the nearby Ariel checkpoint, 30 meters away. arrived during the check and rudely shouted at the Palestinian driver to get into the car. He shouted to the soldiers not to let drivers get out of their cars and to check the cars while the drivers are inside. (Does he have the authority to tell soldiers what to do?) After a few minutes the driver was given permission to go and he drove to Salafit.
10:45 – Tapucah Junction – Za'atra Junction
There are six soldiers and a jeep on the road but no inspections are being conducted by the soldiers or by the police.
11:00 – Hawara Checkpoint
A new jeep is parked under the watchtower at the entrance to Nablus and two soldiers are present. An beat-up old Mitsubishi is being meticulously inspected. Meanwhile the other cars continue on their way without delay. The search continued for 7 minutes after we arrived and the passengers got back in and left. There are no inspections at the exit from Nablus, but the large hole in the road delays the passing vehicles.
11:15 – Beit Furik is empty.
11:30 – Hawara Checkpoint
The police jeep is still there as well as an army Hummer. They are waiting at the turnoff to Bracha, checking papers of passengers in a car leaving Nablus. The Hummer left the junction and continued towards Bracha. We follow and the soldiers get out and question a shepherd herding sheep. They also stop us and ask where we are going and what we are doing. After a few minutes the soldiers left, the shepherds went on with their herding and the Hummer continued on to Bracha
12:00 – Tapuach junction is empty.
12:10 – Maaleh Efraim junction is empty.
12:45 – Hamra Checkpoint
There are four soldiers present as well as the white inspection vehicle (which we have never seen in use). The soldiers here have also not heard about Machsom Watch. Only one snorts "Machsom Watch women" in a disgusted tone and turns his back angrily. There are no cars waiting and not a lot of traffic. The soldiers wave every passing car to go on its way, but one who did not wait to be waved on is punished by being forced to wait more than necessary. A group of girls leaving Nablus recognize me and shout "Ruthie! Ruthie!" and ask where Natalie is. I tell them she is in Paris and they repeat, "Paris!" in awe.
13:05– Cars and taxis begin to arrive from both directions. Pedestrians and passengers go through relatively quickly after being asked to get out and be checked.
We left at 13:20.
13:35 – Maaleh Efraim – Empty
13:50 – Tapuach – Empty
14:10 – Shomron Gate
Three cars are waiting to enter Israel.
12:10 – 14:45
Translator: Dvora K.
12:10 Bezeq CP – We went through.
Everything is turning yellow but there is still some green and some flowers.
Near the entrance to the settlement of Giv'at Sil'it (opposite the settlement Mahula) soldiers are in place. It seems that they are waiting for some gathering. There are empty tents, tables, many vehicles. The place was full of soldiers and equipment when we were on our way back. Continuing up the hill north of the road, there is a rather large group of tanks and with them two gigantic pieces of equipment fenced off with thick bars. The soldiers near the tanks
or on them, are preparing coffee or drinking it. That is the way we saw them on our way to the CPs and that is the way we saw them on our way back.
Above the Alon Road – The settlement of Maskiyot is surrounded by a new fence and it looks as if the construction is done.
12:45 Hamrah CP
Battle engineering. First sergeant Gil'ad IS YELLING!!! at 3 pedestrians who did not know that they had to walk on the (new) path that goes around the CP. With a derogatory gesture and the peak of his voice: "What do you want, to get a bullet?" and to us, he says: "Of course I threaten a person who enters my CP …"
"This is a sterile area, a closed military zone, you are violating a private military zone …." In the end, by association, he reports to us: "They sent a few Arabs as a provocation." We pointed out that he was mistaken.
Afterwards, three young school children (probably first grade) with backpacks came along. With his rifle drawn, he also sent them belligerently to the new pedestrian path. He sent one of the people waiting for a taxi to the 'waiting shed', a dirty, dusty place, open to the wind from every direction, but far from the frightened soldiers in the CP. Most of the vehicles that went through were Transits and minibuses with workers.
13:30 We left.
On the sides of the road going up to Tyasir, we could hear a lot of shooting clearly. We could not see the soldiers that were shooting.
13:50 Tyasir CP
There are Kfir banners. On the fence a sign threatens: WELCOME. OPERATION 97. TOMORROW WAR.
The soldiers on the post (we went up to it and none told us to go away) proudly confirmed that they are ready for war even here and now, so of course they are ready for 'tomorrow' as the sign says. "And after all," they ask us, "who are we? Ah – The women of Watch?!"
Here too Transits with workers go past to the west and only a few are going back home to the east.
We were asked how we are – and we went through.
Translator: Charles K.
An eviction order was issued to the brothers of the Darajmah family living on the outskirts of the Maskiyot settlement. This was after considerable harassment by the settlers, led by the settlement’s IDF security coordinator who, in one incident, abused the Bedouin’s horse so badly that he killed it. The horse’s owner was afraid to file a complaint. The harassment was intended to make their lives so unbearable that they’d leave. Now the Civil Administration is doing what the settlers want, ordering the Bedouin to remove his encampment, his family and his flock within 30 days, or else bulldozers will forcibly remove him. The land belongs to the Christian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which does not object to the Bedouins’ presence, but it won’t fight for them. He also contacted an attorney who said nothing can be done. Yesh Din apparently said the same thing.
The Civil Administration foiled an EU initiative to construct a water cistern for the benefit of the Bedouin shepherds in the area of Hamam el Maliah, after having dispossessed them from the spring next to the Maskiyot settlement.
The young shepherd who had been severely beaten by Rotem’s security coordinator dared file a complaint with the police, which indicted the attacker. That’s truly a revolution in the behavior of the Jordan Valley authorities – to indict a settler for harming a Bedouin?!
The Shabak detained Palestinian police officers from Nablus, on their way to a conference in Jericho, at Tapuach junction to inspect their documents.
Za’tara checkpoint – Tapuach junction 11:15
Three Palestinian vehicles detained in the plaza for document inspection. Border Police soldiers give the documents to someone behind the plaza’s white fence. The people being checked say the Shabak conducts the inspection. It looks like there’s a special operation today to check documents of people coming from the direction of Nablus. Only young men are in almost all the vehicles. After one car is released, the one following is detained, about three at a time.
When we reached Hamra we understood the reason for the operation. Today there’s a Palestinian police conference in Jericho that will last ten days, part of the “cooperation” between Israeli and Palestinian security services, or Israeli retaliation for Palestinian Authority policies. Anyway, the detainees didn’t appear concerned by the delay.
In one car, which apparently didn’t contain police officers, was a Palestinian who’d come from Jordan after having lived there four years. He didn’t have an ID, which apparently had been taken from him, only a photocopy of it. He also was allowed through.
Again we ran into the man accused by the Palestinian police of collaborating with the Shabak. His brother was shot and killed by Palestinian police officers, and he also has been arrested a number of times, interrogated and tortured. He fears for his life; he doesn’t know who could help him.
The fields between Ma’aleh Efrayim and Mechora, near the abandoned packing house, are starting to be cultivated again, after we were told last month that all the fields that had been cultivated by Eyal Levy had been abandoned.
Hamra checkpoint – 12:35
Light traffic. People coming through the checkpoint complain of inspections that are too rigorous.
Vehicles coming from the Jordan Valley to the West Bank aren’t inspected. On the other hand, everyone travelling from the West Bank to the Jordan Valley is carefully checked. Every bag goes through the scanner.
Police officers are crossing here also on their way to the Jericho conference.
Tayasir checkpoint – 14:30
Children from the encampments on the other side of the checkpoint, who attend school in Tubas, have kilometers to walk. A few got rides. The unit serving at the checkpoint has been replaced by soldiers from the Kfir brigade. They welcome us.
Light traffic, no lines.
There’s a group of soldiers and about 20 pup-tents in the wadi next to the road from the Tayasir checkpoint to Hamam el Maliah, as well as larger tents and an army truck.
Gochia checkpoint – Closed, as usual, at the time it’s supposed to be open. We called Zaharan, from the DCO, who said that he himself made sure it would be open, though he couldn’t come today.
An army vehicle arrived at 15:30. The stopped to see whether we were alright (we’d forgotten our flags today, so they couldn’t identify who we were). They told us they belonged to a unit at the Tayasir base responsible for opening the gate; since they arrived, they come to the gate each morning at 08:30, and if someone crosses they also come in the afternoon to open it. No one crossed today, so they didn’t come to open it at 15:00. This sounds like a reasonable arrangement; the question is, whether they’ll stick to it.
Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – 15:20 Soldiers on site inspect vehicles entering the Jordan Valley.
Za’tara–Tapuach junction – 16:35 Two Border Police soldiers, no inspections.
12.30 Bezeq CP –We went through.
Despite the mist and last few hot days, the area is still full of many colored flowers. The herds still can enjoy the plentiful green. Today we did not see any soldiers' exercises. A new net fence decorates the new neighborhood of the Maskiyot settlement, the one above the road. We saw a hole in the gigantic embankment. The embankment is decorated with patches of green like a beginner's beard.
13.05 Hamra CP
Orange and black flags (battle engineering) are still flying above the shelter on the road. The machine for x-raying bags is still in operation. Pedestrians are directed to the new path that was smoothed for them. The commander comes over to ask if everything is all right with us. Despite the fact that he is a soldier from the battle engineering corps, he does not have the usual decoration of a foot knife. In the past it was explained to us that this "is the presentation look of the brigade." He confirmed this and also reserved the rule for another of his companies. He directed a group of school girls from the road to the path (see the picture at the bottom). The girls did not want to walk on it; the commander insisted, and explained to us that he cannot know what the schoolgirls have in their school bags, "and things have happened…." So it is much better for them to walk on the path that is at a distance from the CP. "OK …. Maybe, too, the dangers of the road are also a good reasons for this path."
While he stands beside us, the cars are allowed to go through in a line without waiting for a sign from the post. For the most part cars with workers went through. In a few of them documents were inspected.
We met some acquaintances from Z's family and from that of A.S. We met a couple from Tamoun who have been living in Copenhagen for many years. The man pointed sadly to the CP and told us that they left after a large part of the family's lands was taken for the Settlement of B'kaoth and for the CP. Now they are returning from a visit, on the way to Aman in order to fly back. A man from Jordan – while waiting for a taxi and for his bags, was very moved when he saw us. He asked about what we were doing, asked to have his picture taken, received a marker from us with the address of our site and left us his card.
14.10 – Things are quiet. We left.
14.30 Tyasir CP
At the entrance to the base there is a mobile food truck with soldiers around it. Somebody not in uniform looking like a "boy of the hills" with his large skull cap, long side curls and print shirt, yells at us "Go away from here!" "I'm the commander of the sector," he answered our question. After he returned to his own affairs near the 'Gazlan, we climbed up to the inspection post. We were not banished and the officers paid no attention to us. We asked people who arrived opposite us what was going on. A woman told us that they feel that the soldiers poke fun at them and they do not always behave courteously. All the soldiers at this CP are religious and the picture on the gate hints that they belong to the Kfir Brigade. It says: "Welcome Operation 97" and the ultimate slogan follows: "Tomorrow war". Buses and minibuses with workers who greet us go through.
15.00 We left.
14.20 Bezeq CP
Who are you? Where do you come from? This time, the person in the CP said he must inspect the baggage compartment of our car.
He did the inspection and let us go.