Hamra, Tayasir, Wed 6.1.10, Afternoon
Translating: Louis L.
Jericho is completely encircled – checkpoints, blockages, deep trenches. "Removal of checkpoints"? Not on your life!!
Building with mud as the beginning of hope.
el Auja Checkpoint
11:15 – on the road to the Valley, approaching el Auja, a manned checkpoint in which every car is checked, another checkpoint, unmanned, 100 metres further on. On the western side, leading to Rimonim – no checks.
11:25 – junction of Route 90 and the road from the checkpoint (in el Auja) – a rolling Border Police checkpoint.
The turn from Route 90, next to Naama, the main entrance to Jericho from the east. A wide good road, but blocked across the whole width by a high mound of rocks. No entry for any vehicle! A sign explaining that entry is only permitted with the approval of the regional brigade evidences better times than these...
Mussa Alimi Checkpoint
11:45 – the eastern exit from Jericho. The checkpoint is a kind of pen. A car enters after a soldier, sitting in a stone building, hidden behind dark glass, raises the electronic gate. And then the car is locked inside the checkpoint surrounded by fences, because on the other side is another locked electric gate. Upon our arrival a bus was inside the pen. A truck arrives, enters the pen, the driver descends and stands tiptoe in order to reach the high window behind which are supposed to be the lords of the checkpoint – the soldiers. He doesn’t see them and they are in no hurry to respond. Two soldiers come out to us and, after we dragged some information out of them, which they were refusing to give (only buses and goods pass here, only with permits; Israelis forbidden), they stopped the transit at the checkpoint, in which in any case no one had passed while we there, except into the checkpoint plaza to wait. Since two more vehicles – a bus and a truck – were waiting outside, we decided that our presence was only doing damage so we moved on at 12:00.
We travelled with a friend whose camera had been impounded two days ago because he filmed the checkpoint for a presentation to Tony Blair during his visit here. The checkpoint was closed for two hours, he was detained for six hours and forbidden to talk on the phone. Afterwards he was summoned to the nearby army base to take the camera. The idea that he would enter an army camp, pass through a gate that would be locked behind him and would be surrounded by scores of armed soldiers, was ungraspable and even inhuman to his mind, and so he asked for our presence, but when his entry to the camp was delayed, he gave up on the camera and asked to continue on our way.
Oren, a soldier who answered my phone call to the DCO, contended that the camera was at Maalei Ephraim police station. From there, on the phone, they said that they had no idea what I was talking about. We phoned Oren again and now he said that he did not know where it was, and wasn’t prepared to put me through to someone who could give more reliable answers. Only after some obstinacy and negotiation, he passed me on to H, who promised me that it would be passed on to policemen from the Palestinian DCO. Inshallah...
Between Auja and Jericho (less than five kilometres) there was once a straight road, but it has also been blocked and you now have to make a wide circuit, except that this is also blocked – so the way runs through a road strewn with checkpoints.
In the fields east of Route 90, which up to a year ago were cultivated by Palestinians, the army has planted mines. The fields are surrounded by fences with warning signs.
Phasael – the turn at the only entrance to the place is about 20 metres north of the junction to Tomer. The junction is wide, lit and with warning road signs. The entrance to Phasael is through a gap in the railing that lines the road - a dirt path south of which a continuous separation line. To enter the village, it is necessary to travel five kilometres north to the settlement of Fasael and make a U-turn.
We went to see mud and straw structures built by residents on the initiative of "Jordan Valley Solidarity" – a school of five classes for 120 children, and a beautiful clinic. Eight year old children help build, and the clinic was erected in one night. It only costs 1000 shekels to build such a building. The buildings are erected by traditional thousand year old methods in order to recruit the support of ecological and cultural organisations and to prevent their demolition, because in Area C construction of anything is forbidden.
Only the main house was untouched, because it is ancient – from before 1967. The house has since been renovated with mud and straw bricks. And in general the family became "manufacturers" of adobe bricks, with more and more of the local buildings constructed from them. The owner of the house says that the occupier is prohibited from destroying such buildings because they are ancient. But whether that is true needs to be checked. In any event, even if it is destroyed, it is easy to rebuild.