Hamra, Tayasir, Wed 6.1.10, Afternoon

Observers: 
Lena R, Yifat D, Dorit H, Daphna B (reporting)
06/01/2010
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Afternoon

Translating: Louis L.

Summary
Jericho is completely encircled – checkpoints, blockages, deep trenches. "Removal of checkpoints"? Not on your life!!

Building with mud as the beginning of hope.

Jericho

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 camerainfo-icon 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.

Hamra Checkpoint

14:00 – in general it’s moving, but because they pass one direction at a time, and from the west the checks are slow, from time to time a long line of vehicles materialises from the east. We watched from a distance.
We visited a house by the side of the checkpoint. The house belongs to its tenants, and the father and grandfather were born there. They have a title deed for the land but since 1967 the deed is in Jordan and they do not have the means to travel to get it. Five years ago, they destroyed eight buildings in the compound, and three years ago another eight buildings. These were buildings meant for the eight sons of the family and their flock. Therefore five sons moved elsewhere – Nasariya, Beit Hassan and Tamoun. In the compound remain piles of stones left by the occupier’s bulldozers, a reminder of cruelty, destructiveness and insensitivity...
During the destruction of three years ago, the army suddenly discovered that the family has a small well in the compound. An ancient well, the waters from which irrigated the crops and slaked the thirst of the animalsinfo-icon and the sole cow in their possession, and of course some for the people. They pounced on it in a frenzy of destruction and, without reason, destroyed it, dropping in stones and manure. That is it. Now they can travel long distances to bring water...

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.

In the past, for each shift, we would buy oranges from the sons – from the family’s trees, when they put four boxes by the roadside on the way to the checkpoint. Officers came from the DCO, threatened, drove away and took. That was that – another meagre source of livelihood cut off... Their flock is also driven off with threats from the pastureland.