03:50 – We parted from a malodorous garbage truck that was bringing garbage from Israel to the occupied territories and crossed the border at Bezek Crossing.
04:10 – The base at Tayasir Checkpoint is a glaring light against the sky that is still filled with stars. It is still dark, but workers from Tayasir are already sitting on the sidewalk in front of the inspection point waiting for their vehicle to be checked. They are on their way to work in the banana fields in Beit Ha'Arava. They work day is an hour and a half shorter because of Ramadan.
There are many soldiers at the checkpoint. We counted six, with full equipment, including a stretcher and large water container. While we were there a bus and three cars arrived from the west bringing workers, and one vehicle arrived from the east. A jeep also arrived from area A, stopped at the base, and returned from where it came. The soldiers from the Duchifat Unit did not greet us when we arrived or when we left.
During the time we were there only one truck came from the east side.
One of the soldiers from the "duchifat" unit was friendly and told us that he was from Gush Etzion in the occupied territories, and said that passage in the afternoon usually went smoothly. There was also an unusually large presence of soldiers at this checkpoint. It appears that the less busy the checkpoints (the more the system of checkpoints and permits proves itself””) and the less need there is for armed soldiers – the more soldiers are there.
At 06:00 we were forced to leave because of the mosquitoes.
06:25 – We told the female guard at the Bezek Crossing that everything was OK.
Guests: a Swedish journalist and S., an interested young woman
“Ramadan couldn’t reach the Jordan Valley because it didn’t receive a permit and was turned back at the checkpoint” (A saying often heard in the Jordan Valley when people explain why they’re not fasting).
Abandoned checkpoints – almost no one shows up, very hot (though not like it was three days ago) and the fast is unbearable. In these conditions, having to drag oneself from the car to the checkpoint, and then back to the car, is a little too much to ask, so if it isn’t urgent people stay home.
12:30 Gitit checkpoint
Empty. No soldiers at the checkpoint and no Palestinians. Only three settlers encamped in the checkpoint, right in the midst of the concrete blocks, apparently waiting for a ride and meanwhile making themselves at home. Lords of the land, lords of the army.
We went to see the ruins of El Pharsiya. It’s a very harsh scene: piled-up remnants of people’s lives, among them sparkling white new tents donated by the Red Cross, which are now too subject to a demolition order. El Pharsiya never received the demolition order, and its residents have been living on their lands (privately owned and officially registered) for more than 50 years. So why now? P., our friend, says the goal is to create a strip “free of Palestinians” between the main settlements in the area and develop it for Israel’s benefit.
14:45 – Tayasir
Only about 20 vehicles passed in either direction during the course of an entire hour. The soldiers are bored, but their commander makes sure that inspect the waiting vehicles. From time to time the soldier who is supposed to be inspecting vehicles locks himself in the air-conditioned booth.
The Palestinians wait quietly in the 40-degree heat (104 Fahrenheit), in the sun, in cars with no air-conditioning. The commander tells the soldier to come out and inspect, so he slowly pulls himself together, puts on his ceramic protective vest and goes out into the heat. A delay of about ten minutes.
The soldiers inspecting people on foot call “wahad-wahad” (“one-by-one”) even if there are only three people, or when they’re addressing 8- or 10-year-old children and their parents. The children also must come through individually; they do so slowly, hesitantly, looking worriedly at the soldier and his gun. It’s unpleasant for an adult to go past the soldier hidden in a booth and another standing next to the revolving gate with a weapon drawn. To have to confront the occupation alone is oppressive and threatening; how much worse is it for a small child…
The soldiers insist, and don’t allow more than one person at a time to approach them. Whoever dares to step forward a meter or two is sent back immediately. This greatly delays the crossing, because the 30 meter walk toward the checkpoint starts only when the previous person has come out the other side. That’s not much, but when you’re talking about a group of 20 people it results in a completely unnecessary delay.
17:15-17:45 Hamra checkpoint
People cross quickly. No delays. Many soldiers doing compulsory service who this time don’t harass us. Few Palestinians. A friend told us that three days earlier a Palestinian boy went through the checkpoint with a bottle of cola that the soldiers coveted. The boy tried to resist but couldn’t, and they finally took it from him.
Translator: Charles K.
03:40-07:00 We decided this time as well to leave before dawn to see what happens at Tayasir and Hamra checkpoints during the hours people leave for work, because it’s Friday, and because it’s Ramadan.
BEZEQ checkpoint 03:40
We decided to begin at the Tayasir checkpoint.
04:00 Tayasir checkpoint
A warm breeze, still bearable (compared to how hot it will be later, when we’re no longer here).
Still completely dark. The soldiers’ positions are illuminated, as is the army camp. Two soldiers stand in the positions on the road. A dog barks incessantly, comes down from where the positions are located and walks into the darkness beyond the checkpoint area. We went up to the position; we were pleased that the soldiers didn’t think we were dangerous and didn’t react until they saw us, and asked what we were doing here. No, they hadn’t heard about MachsomWatch. They’re in the Duchifat unit, and will be stationed here for five months. Meanwhile, the soldier sleeping on a chair at the entrance to the upper position came into this one. The other two returned to the position on the road (we were in “the melting pot” – three soldiers from three different Jewish diasporas).
04:20 Laborers began arriving from Tayasir.
30-40 people crossed in succession. Those we asked were on their way to the settlement of Na’ama (near Jericho), to work in the date groves or picking herbs (it’s hard to refrain from imagining laborers “being cooked” in the greenhouses where the herbs are grown). We asked them what time it was, and learned that they operate according to the Occupier’s clock, at least in the area of the checkpoint and at work. Today is Friday, so they’ll leave only toward 13:00. Among the laborers were 15-year old youths. Two crossed barefoot, and looked as if they didn’t own any shoes. Those we asked how things were going said that today there were no delays and that the crossing was ok.
05:00 Again quiet, no people. The soldiers began making coffee.
The road to Hamra was not so dark any more. It’s easy to see the signs and the obstacle (a ditch and berm) stretching along the eastern side of the road.
05:30 Hamra checkpoint
A truck driver: “It’s going fast today.” The time? Like ours. (five-thirty in the morning). The passengers – here, too, we met laborers on their way to the settlement of Na’ama. And a small taxi, waiting to take people to Amman. Mini-van cabs passed, picking up families, mostly women dressed festively. We kept track of the cars from the time we first saw them on the road west of the checkpoint, until they crossed; it never took more than three minutes.
We didn’t see many soldiers when we arrived. An open military vehicle stood there; a male and a female soldier stood near the position on the road. The armored corps flags had been replaced by the gray and white flags of the Jordan Valley unit (those with dappled berets). This time we saw a red symbol on the flag that was different from what we had seen in the past. None of the soldiers there (later we counted eight) approached us, didn’t ask, didn’t inquire. Too bad, because we wanted to ask them about the guide to polite conversation at checkpoints, which newspaper reports associated with this checkpoints. Maybe they asked about us over the walkie-talkie.
05:55 Four soldiers got into the military vehicle and left, one of them yelling at us, “You’re shameless.”
Light traffic. People still arrive only from the west.
06:10 We left
We drove on the dirt road leading to the shepherds’ lean-to’s north of the northern vineyard of the settlement of Beqa’ot. We brought bags of clothing to one of the families that lives there (in constant fear of the Civil Administration, which shows up at least once a week to demolish the lean-to’s and confiscate the vehicles and tractors used for pulling water tanks for the sheep and the inhabitants). We politely refused to sit down. We continued to the next clothing stop (near one of the concrete pillars – “Caution: Live fire area”). We didn’t accept the invitation to sit there either; we just wished them well. And continued on our way.
06:58 BEZEQ checkpoint
We maintain the ritual:
- How are things?
It’s the hottest day in many years. The temperature is about 48 degrees celcius. We suffered greatly, but our suffering was nothing compared to that of the Palestinians forced to trudge along while fasting. We saw people drenching kaffiyas and handkerchiefs in water and wrapping the wet rags around their burning bald heads, perspiring faces, eyes dimmed from the heat…
11:15 – Gitit (Ma’aleh Efraim)
The checkpoint isn’t manned, but is swarming with settlers wandering around in the soldiers’ booth, going down to the road to talk with their fellows who stop in the middle of the checkpoint and block the road. Lords of the land!
Soldiers doing compulsory service have replaced the reservists who’ve completed their stint, and with them the unnecessary struggle over our presence at the checkpoint. A few weeks ago we received a letter from a reservist who told us the soldiers have orders saying that “when the Watch bitches show up, close the checkpoint if they bother you.” Shutting the checkpoint and preventing Palestinians from crossing is illegal (not to mention how inhuman it is, because it harms Palestinians who aren’t a party to the all-out war the army is waging to prevent us from observing the checkpoint).
The commander demands that we move back to the junction, we refuse and remain where we usually stand. He orders his soldiers to close the checkpoint and prevent the Palestinians from crossing; they suffer greatly as a result. We ask our lawyer to send a fax about it (as well as the closing of the checkpoint a week earlier) to the legal advisor, and also call S., the DCO officer. He argues with us (“Why didn’t they close the checkpoint before you arrived?”), but orders the soldiers to open it. It was closed no longer than 10 minutes, but the suffering of people forced to wait for their rides in the inhuman heat and sun, without water, just because the soldiers wanted to get rid of us, is indescribable.
The crossing procedure hasn’t been eased for Ramadan, and cars entering the Jordan Valley are rigorously inspected, including opening the trunk and rummaging around intrusively. The Palestinians have to get out of their cars about fifty meters before the checkpoint, just as they must do the rest of the year, wait to be called by the soldiers and then go wait for the car at the junction. The canopy that was erected and filmed for the news reports as an example of “improving conditions at the checkpoints” still serves only to shade the soldiers’ water container; the Palestinians are forbidden to shelter there.
12:25 - Three officers with the rank of captain arrive and one approaches us to chase us away from the junction. Again we make it clear to him, politely but firmly, that we won’t move from where we’re standing, that we’re observing quietly, not interfering with the operation of the checkpoint and standing pretty far away from the soldiers. We tell him to call the police if he has a problem with our being here.
12:40 - We leave.
13:15 Tayasir checkpoint
Here, too, one of the soldiers tries to chase us away, but the checkpoint commander tells him that so long as we don’t interfere with the checkpoint’s operation he doesn’t have any problem with us being there.
Light traffic in the oppressive heat. A taxi crossing into the Jordan Valley is detained a long time for inspection. A young man and woman cross on foot at the same time because they’re forbidden to go through in a vehicle. The man tries to explain to the soldier that he should allow his wife to get their baby from the taxi; she left it there with the air conditioning on, but now the taxi is being inspected and the motor is off and she’s worried about the baby. The soldier doesn’t understand what he’s talking about, and a dialogue of the deaf begins, with gestures, and finally the soldier allows the mother to get the baby. Immediately afterwards, the taxi is released.
A very old woman, about 80, remains in another taxis, holding a screaming baby. The woman is worried about violating the occupier’s rules by remaining in the taxi; she’s forced to get out and cross through the checkpoint on foot, and in her anxiety she presents her ID card to every soldier she sees. The checkpoint commander approaches and interrogates her – where is she from, where is she going, etc. The woman looks at him in alarm – not only can’t she understand him, she can barely hear what he’s saying over the baby’s screams. The soldier, who could be her great-grandson, finally lets her go…
Here, too, the soldiers are those doing compulsory service. Most of the time the crossing operates reasonably well, considering that it’s interfering with the normal lives of people in their own land, in 48 degree heat.
14:10 – We left.
We were invited to El Pharsiya, to a meeting of the owners of homes that had been demolished in the two demolitions carried out during the past month (on 19.7 and 5.8), who were left homeless, along with others who’d received demolition orders but whose homes/tents hadn’t yet been destroyed, along with lawyers, Palestinian Authority officials and representatives of aid organizations. It was clear to everyone that Israel has opened a campaign to annex the Jordan Valley and is therefore systematically demolishing the homes of the Palestinians and trying to expel the local inhabitants, some of whom have lived here more than 50 years.
03:15 – 06:15 We decided to start before dawn in order to see what goes on at the Hamra checkpoint during the hours that people cross on their way to work. We asked what time it starts to get crowded, and decided to arrive by 4 am. It was dark when we started out – still night, and hot!!!
Bezeq checkpoint 03:15
We went through.
We decided to begin at the Hamra checkpoint. We drove on Route 90 (the Jordan Valley road). We turned west at the Jiftlik, toward the Hamra checkpoint.
04:00 Hamra checkpoint
The area of the checkpoint is illuminated. The DCO jeep and four soldiers. Two buses parked on the side, on their way to Kalya. The passengers, laborers from around Jenin, put their belts back on as they walk toward the buses. This scene will accompany us all morning. A military vehicle (for transporting prisoners) arrived at 04:20; 8-10 soldiers, two female soldiers a and a dog get out. A minibus crosses, carrying laborers from Tubas to the settlement of Yafit, then to the settlement of Ro’i, and so on. From time to time some of those crossing go off to the side of the checkpoint area (toward the southwest) to pray.
Many car headlights are visible on the road west of the checkpoint (the cars turn off their lights in the checkpoint area). Apparently the passengers get out ahead of time and go through the security check before their vehicle arrives and goes through the checkpoint. We see the passengers waiting for the vehicle which brought them (a minibus or bus or some other vehicle). It’s hard to say how long a vehicle waits on line until reaching the checkpoint. We timed two buses: ten minutes from the moment one crossed until it left, and most of the passengers were already waiting for it. Most of those crossing are young men, laborers in the settlements (picking dates and grapes). Very few women. Some families also crossed. More than once the DCO told us proudly that each morning 4,000 or more people cross. This morning the number seemed smaller.
The soldiers at the checkpoint (armored corps reservists) guard both sides of the road. The dog is located at the position on the road. One of the soldiers approaches us, gently asks what we’re doing here. “A winning family” is written on his hat. “Ah, that’s our battalion’s hat…” His compatriots urge him to stop talking to us and get back to his guard post on the road.
05:15 Someone from Tayasir approaches us. He says that people are let through Tayasir very slowly, one at a time, and it takes a long time between vehicles. He gave up waiting to cross there and crossed through Hamra after a detour of an hour (through Tubas).
So we went to Tayasir.
05:45 Tayasir. A cool wind.
Four reservists. A fifth in the tower. The place is pretty deserted, apparently the busy time is over. We say hello to the laborers. No one complains that the crossing is slow or about long lines.
Soldier: “Don’t you say good morning to us if we’re not Arabs???”
05:55 Soldiers begin arriving from the base to replace the five stationed there.
06:05 The entire shift has been replaced. Someone asks, referring to us, “What’s this?,” and another answers, “They’re making a documentary about you.”
06:10 A truck passes, loaded with sand and gravel for construction, and we leave. The place is empty.
06:30 Bezeq checkpoint
They didn’t even ask how we were.
Translator: Charles K.
The scope of the expulsion and demolition orders given to the Palestinians in the past month is slowly becoming apparent. Almost every family has received them, which indicates that the government of Israel is determined to expel the Palestinians from the Jordan Valley, as some of our leaders said recently (and not only recently).
We arranged to meet the senior official from the US State Department in Bardala, in the northern Jordan Valley, and this time she brought along the person in charge of political and military matters. Together we met Pathi from Jordan Valley Solidarity and the chairman of the Bardala local council. We saw a lovely encampment, clean and very well organized, located on the outskirts of the village, that has been there for approximately 15 years. The residents of the village received an expulsion order because they were said to be living in a closed area (not necessarily a military area), and were notified that if they don't leave on their own their homes will be demolished, their livestock confiscated and they will have to pay the cost of their own expulsion.
Prior to our meeting I sent the official material and photographs describing how the entire northern Jordan Valley – more specifically, every place in the Jordan Valley where Palestinians live – has been declared a firing range, a closed military area or simply a closed area, indicating that all these proclamations have no connection to security, and their only purpose is to expel the local residents.
The meeting was a good one, concluding at the home of the chairman of the local council, where the Americans said they want to be more involved and come here more frequently. God willing! The purpose of the visit – to report to Washington, which requested clarifications after the most recent remarks by Israeli ministers and the Prime Minister.
The group then drove to Tubas, to meet with the chairman of the local council, and later, at the Tayasir checkpoint, we saw them returning.
11:30 Ma’aleh Efraim
2 soldiers man the checkpoint.
12:00 - Hamra
Many soldiers at the checkpoint, but no lines in either direction.
Again, reservists. People cross quickly. Two soldiers at the pedestrian crossing – one, who speaks Arabic, is polite to the Palestinians, the other is hostile. A woman with a small boy, about six years old, arrives. The boy goes through the metal detector, which beeps. The boy continues to the revolving gate without noticing, and then the soldier in the booth yells at him, “C’mere, c’mere, what’s in your belly?” The boy, of course, doesn’t understand, but from the tone of voice he does understand that he did something terrible and now the big soldier, with the gun, is very angry and might beat him…He freezes, frightened, and then bursts into tears. The soldier doesn’t back down, makes him go back and forces the unfortunate youngster to lift up his shirt – it turns out he’s wearing a belt…that’s what caused the beeping. It was a heartbreaking scene – the child’s terror in the face of the soldier blind to the fact that he’s facing a small, frightened child…
Dorit burst into tears…I went over to comfort the mother and son after they crossed, and the mother, trembling, handed me her ID card for inspection.
After we left, Dorit told the soldiers what she though about what had occurred, and in particular to the second soldier, who didn’t seem particularly pleased by his colleague’s behavior. Why, she said, doesn’t he report on what he’s seen when he returns to Israel, what he’s experienced, and an argument developed regarding what they’re even doing there, while the checkpoint commander is yelling from the road that the soldiers shouldn’t talk to us, but they continue to do so. The soldier yells, relax, and tells us that his mother was wounded twice in terrorist attacks; once she was burned badly. Which might explain his hostility. The argument wasn’t loud or violent. But I left feeling the soldier might just understand that he has to behave humanely, understands intellectually, but inside, because of what he went through, there’s so much hostility that he can’t control it. And he’s stuck there, in that God-forsaken place, with a weapon and control over the people whom he feels hurt him, and anything can happen. Who knows? Will any of the soldiers report what happened?
After we left, we heard from a distance the argument that broke out among the soldiers about what we’d said. Perhaps we made them ask some questions…
Next to the settlement of Ro’i we met our friend Abu Sakker waiting for the group of Americans in order to take them to his place by an indirect route. I put them in contact with each other on a previous visit, and this time the American official called him directly and wanted to speak to him. They had to travel via an indirect route because the settlement had blocked the usual route to his house which is located at its edge.
A civilian car stopped near the group and followed it. The driver telephoned someone and ten minutes later an army jeep and a settlement security jeep appeared and accompanied the group to the entrance of Abu Sakker’s house. There they began to harass the Palestinians who were accompanying the group (members of the Palestinian Authority), from Tubas, and the Americans’ driver, also a Palestinian. They also tried to harass us: Soldier: “What are you doing here?” I: “That’s exactly what I wanted to ask you.” Soldier: “Ah, I talk to you nicely, and that’s how you reply?” I: “When I come to visit friends, I’m not willing for soldiers to block the entrance to their home and ask me what I’m doing here.” Soldier: “Show me your ID’s.” I: “Are we under suspicion?” Soldier: “No, I just want to check them with headquarter, this is a closed military area [no it isn’t; Abu Sakker’s house is one of the few not located in a military area] and we’re in the midst of a security incident.” I: “What security incident?” Soldier: “I’m not allowed to tell you.” I: “If I’m not under suspicion, you have no reason to check me, and I won’t give you my ID,” and turned to Abu Sakker’s tent. The soldiers spent a long time checking the Palestinians, and even when the discussion with Abu Sakker and the other dignitaries he had invited was over, the entire group had to wait until the soldiers were finished. The soldier threatened to detain us, but left when he’d finished harassing the Palestinians.
When we left, two more local Palestinians arrive and showed us the expulsion orders they’d received.
18:00 – Hamra
Six reservists and a female MP. The atmosphere is calm, the soldiers offer us water and cake, the Palestinians cross quickly and there are no lines. But they still have to walk 150 metes in the heat of the day in order to cross on foot, after they haven’t been permitted to drive up to the checkpoint in their cars, and wait for them in the sun on the other side.
19:00 – Ma’aleh Efraim
Two soldiers manning the checkpoint.
Translation: Bracha B.A.
We passed by the Bezek Checkpoint at 05:30.
05:55 – Hamra Checkpoint – You don't have to come here. I'm doing your job for you.
The flag of the armored corps is flying high next to the Israeli flag and a dirty military police flag is lying next to the bunker at the junction. A jeep belonging to the Liaison and Coordination Administration is there with a dozen reservists and women soldiers with a dog. There is very little traffic. People come out with their belts in their hands and climb into waiting taxis. A person from the Liaison and Coordination Administration tells us, "You don't have to come here. I'm doing your job for you. There are reservists here now and they are top-notch."
He explains that the heavy traffic occurs at 03:00 or 04:00 in the morning and that people come back from work at noon. Why come here if everything is OK? Now there are easier measures. It used to be more difficult. We used to find explosives every day at Huwara. If there were no checkpoints people would blow themselves up in Netanya.
At 06:15 a military vehicle arrives with 7 soldiers and they unload containers with breakfast. The car leaves shortly with soldiers who were on the night watch to take them to the Tirza camp to sleep. Now there are 13 soldiers who are more alert. They chat with the military policewomen and walk about aimlessly and pet the dog.
The person from the Liaison and Coordination Administration returns to talk with us again and then leaves after being insulted by something we said. Perhaps he didn't like our claim that the reserve duty wastes valuable work days. He says, "If the soldiers are not necessary, than you aren't either."
We left at 07:15.
07:25 – Gate near Roee`s settlment
The gate is open and according to the cars, the workers in the greenhouses are already at work. The flocks are already out in the fields and it is getting hot despite the fact that it is a bit cloudy.
07:50 – Tayasir Checkpoint
There are 4 reservists who have been there for 26 days and who will leave tomorrow. The place looks completely abandoned and they report that everything is very quiet. A very impressive man gets out of a car when we arrive and reports that he is in charge of a group of volunteers building mud brick houses in the Jiftlik.
At 08:15 a jeep unloads breakfast for the soldiers and we left.
08:30 – The guard at the Bezek checkpoint signals us not to cross. After a short conversation of "how are things?" Couldn't be better, we left. עזבנו.
Translated by Tal H.
Summary: new house demolitions (second time in two weeks) at Al Farsiyyah.
“It’s okay, it’s authorized”.
11 a.m. – Ma’ale Efrayim Checkpoint – one soldiers at the post on the road.
On our way, between the Jewish settlements Gitit and Mechora, developments have been apparent every week – settlers took over an abandoned hothouse about half a year ago, fenced it in, and turned it into their tractor maintenance shed. All the fields around are now tended by the settlers (naturally the workers on the job are Palestinian) and how can we know that the fields belong to Jews? because Palestinians do not sow in this area in the summer, there is no water for this! Only the Jews have plenty of water for irrigation throughout the hot season. The question remains whose land this is, that Jews have suddenly began to tend them. They are not even close to any of the settlements.
Two weeks ago we reported that this large encampments has received demolition orders, but people left it even earlier. Not for good – all the tents, animal sheds and even the dogs remained, as if the owners had merely left to attend some wedding and would be back shortly. On July 19th, at 7 a.m., the bulldozers came with the army jeeps, including the army’s agents – officials of the civil administration (nothing civil about this arm of the army in charge of Palestinians’ affairs). They demolished 71 structures – mainly tents, but also 7 ovens, toilets, kitchens, animal sheds and morel 21 families – 107 persons including 52 children, have remained homeless. Even if they were not on the spot at the time, this is their home. They have not budged from it for the past 35 years. Two weeks ago they left because they could no longer carry on without water and couldn’t afford transporting water from far away. The ground is privately owned by a Tubas resident from whom they lease it. Several months ago the army posted “firing zone” signs as if to
warn them of what is about to transpire. As throughout the Jordan Valley. Anything that is Palestinian immediately becomes a firing zone.
The soldiers are polite and quiet. Nothing hostile or openly violent about them. Reservists, naturally. The profanity that was spelled out in Russian with stones along the side of the lane has been cleared and instead the battalion’s name is back in place. Still, this is a checkpoint – Palestinians wait (even if not for long) to be summoned on foor by the soldier calling in for inspection one by one.
As in Tyassir, the soldiers here are friendly reservists who offer us water and tell us that if we’re up to a political argument, they’re game. We passed. 6 male soldiers, 3 women soldiers (regulars) – very crowded at the checkpoint. However friendly, they do not begin to see the harassment constituted by their mere presence in the heart of Palestinian territory, perhaps they do not even realize that this is where they actually are. They try to make Yifat move away from her observation point, but she refuses to be budged. There is no checking of the travelers bound for Nablus, while those coming from Nablus are made to disembark, walk in the searing heat all the way to the sunny waiting post, while the shaded area originally built for waiting Palestinians is now taken up by the soldiers’ water tank, lest it heat up. Today is especially hot and this trek weighs heavy on the Palestinians – their brow glistens with swat and they move slowly.
A Civil Administration jeep with two officers arrive to speak to us. They ask us what we think of the checkpoint and how are things in general. We asked them about the demolitions at Al Farsiyyah. M. tells us reassuringly, “Oh, that. It’s alright. It was authorized”. !! He is absolutely fine with the fact that 52 children have been left homeless. Not a shadow of a conscience pang. It’s alright. It’s authorized.
I felt unwell because of the horrendous heat and the difficult sights, and we returned earlier than usual.
14.00 Za’tara/Tapuach CP. No line and we went on our way after a few minutes.
14.10 Opposite the settlement of Migdalim is an iron bar barrier to Majdal Bani Fadil and it is open.
14.20 Ma'aleh Ephraim CP. There is a soldier in the sentry tower.
14.50 Hamra/Beqaot CP. It is terribly hot. Reservists come to ask who we are. A van waited for 4 women and a man who crossed the checkpoint on foot after their IDs were inspected. Another car passes. A taxi arrive and waits obediently 50 metres away until he gets a signal to go forward. The hand waves after a few minutes and the car passed. They just look at it. A tractor goes through at once and then a bus.
Today the soldiers are really pleasant and do not leave the people to dry out while they wait. It is hot.
We went back and passed through small fields of vegetables belonging to the Bedouin. It is obvious that they have stopped watering them because someone has closed the tap. It breaks one’s heart.
16.00 Za’tara/Tapuach CP. Random quick checks.
12:00 - Ma'aleh Ephraim
There are no soldiers at the checkpoint, but a soldier is observing from the watchtower. We drove to Al Fursiya, which is still abandoned. The fields have been harvested and the place is still waiting for the residents' return, but they are still not living there.
13:40 - Tayasir "One by one, please."
A reservist comes up to the car and checks our documents. After a phone call to the command office their attitude towards us changes. They are deliberately polite and try to show how pleasant they are towards the Palestinians by saying: "One at a time, please." After a while they no longer say "please" and the politeness wears off. At 14:00 the shift changes The checkpoint stopped functioning for 7 minutes. The new soldiers to not speak Arabic and are surprised that the Palestinians do not follow orders immediately since they don't understand what they want. People arriving in cars wait to be called one by one even if there are only two people and cross the checkpoint on foot. As usual passengers are checked who are going to the West Bank but not to the center of the West Bank.
On the side of the hill where the pedestrian checkpoint is located there is usually a sign showing what unit is manning the checkpoint. This time there is a sign in Russian reading "Go F*** yourself."
We left at 14:35.
15:00 - Guchia Gate - There are no soldiers or Palestinians.
18:00 - Hamra Checkpoint
There is no waiting line. People cross the checkpoint on foot and there are no delays.
19:00 - Ma'aleh Ephraim - Two soldiers are at the checkpoint and there are no Palestinians present.