Hamra, Tayasir, Wed 24.2.10, Afternoon

Observers: 
Revital S., Rachel C. (reporting)
24/02/2010
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Afternoon

Translated by L. Williams

13:40-15:30

The valley is still green, though on the slopes more stones than foliage can already be seen. Flocks of sheep wondrously merge into the magnificent landscape. A lot of chrysanthemums. We unloaded bundles of clothes next to Hamam el Maliah. A woman came from the encampment by the houses, sat on the bundles and refused to let someone else (apparently from another family) to take anything. We tried to mediate. The situation was of course very unpleasant. The distress is great.

13:40 Tayasir Checkpoint
At the entrance to the army base stood a white Israeli taxi, with two Japanese women sitting inside. Volunteers at Tubas, here for a year and eight months. The taxi driver is from Beit Shean ("And what are you doing here?"). A Palestinian taxi from Tubas will eventually collect the two women.

A school bus is being checked; the children have crossed on foot. Their hubbub can be heard from a distance. Slowly, slowly they reach us and surround us with questions and wonderment. For some reason we amuse them. Their ages range from 6 to 10, from Hamam el Maliah. They showed us the tattered straps of their satchels, and asked us to bring them new ones. They asked if we had food. Four older girls watched us from a distance. One of the truck drivers who waited next to us to cross, asked the children to act politely. Finally their transport arrived and they left.

After them, three or four more minibuses, one driver noting that this time the crossing was fast apparently because of our presence. Sometimes he waits half an hour, sometimes more... This time two military vehicles were passing westward (into Palestinian Authority territory), and the locals said that there were military places further on: no soldiers circulating in Tayasir or Tubas.

14:30 – the road is empty. We listen to the silence, broken by three fighter planes.

On our way to Hamra Checkpoint we see that west of the Allon Road the earthworks that surround the road are being worked on. Rain and time have flattened the earthen banks and an army bulldozer is raising them, while five soldiers protect it. Guchia Gate facing Ro'i is closed. A UN vehicle comes out of Ro'i. What is the UN doing in an illegal settlement? Interesting!'

15:05 Hamra Checkpoint
A road sign showing the way to Tubas is still lying on the ground. Two weeks ago a tractor pushed it over. The tree trunks and shrubs that were uprooted still lie around, drying out (waiting for some cigarette to set them afire). Someone has scrawled "B Company honour"" on the road sign. The two other signs to Beqaot and Mehola have not been desecrated. A Haruv Battalion flag (bottom half a black triangle, upper half a white triangle with a drawing of wings). A group of soldiers in black t-shirts, with the legend "603" next to the Bobcat logo,  are busily erecting a fence that will enclose the dugout position northwest of the junction. Actually the whole checkpoint is now being re-fenced. Around the plaza (paving finished) holes are being dug for posts, a rope is strung and the wire netting lies on the ground. Someone is making money off of this work...

At the junction, lively traffic of Israeli vehicles in both directions. A blue Volkswagen Polo crosses the junction fast, turning left, almost clipping another car coming towards it, and the driver doesn’t forget to give us the finger. People emerge from inspection, belts in hand, re-threading them as they walk.

There are girls with black visor caps. One of them is letting a dog into cars. A passerby says that sometimes the soldiers are nice, sometimes not, and sometimes they are "crap." He lives with his family and his sheep on the hills to the east, and crosses quite often. He says that the soldiers are replaced every week, and notes that there are dog minders here with their animalsinfo-icon today.

We saw a brand new Palestinian vehicle with the logo "Beqaot Packing House" travelling westward. Military vehicles also flash by westward, even though the red signs forbid entry to Palestinian Authority Zone A.

15:50 – we left.

On the way we saw the bulldozer working like mad on the earthworks. The blue Polo overtook us fast while the driver exaggerates his movements – this time he is photographing us on his cellphone, from the side, from the front, from behind. He is driving so fast that we could not catch his number.