Hamra, Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Sun 22.3.09, Afternoon
Maale Efrayim Checkpoint 12:00
One vehicle immediately inspected and crossing.
Hamra Checkpoint 12:20
No waiting lines, rapid crossing. The checkpoint commander informs us that "if you don't move back to the junction [about 50 meters east of the checkpoint itself], I'll be forced to slow down inspections".
A military Hummer arrives with food for the soldiers, and all traffic at the checkpoint is halted for some minutes. The process then proceeds as before, vehicles are let through in both directions simultaneously and no waiting lines accumulate. Cars arriving from Nablus let off their passengers who then cross on foot, the driver disembarks about 30 meters away from the soldiers, raises his shirt and only then approaches for an ID check.
A large group of workers employed at Masuah colony disembarks and crosses on foot. The shaded area is not for them but for the soldiers' food, so they line up in the sun (photo above). A person arrives, bodily supported by his friends who say he is ill. The commander decides to let them through uninspected.
Rapid process: from east to west (from the Jordan Valley into the northern and central West Bank area) inspection is brief and rapid. In the opposite direction (into the Jordan Valley area) random checks are conducted.
School children cross, some on donkey-back (photo above), others running and cheering. The soldiers try to slow them down "one by one!" and "Slow down!" but the merry children carry on. One of the children approaches the commander and shakes his hand, receiving a loaf of bread in return. Two officers, Captain H. and Lieutenant A. try to scare us with the news of a two-hour old hot alert of a terrorist attack at one of the checkpoints, Hamra or Tyassir… But they do not attempt to distance us. No special tension is felt at the checkpoint, the soldiers' heads are bare – no helmets – and inspections are slight and calm. Occupation-Oppression business as usual.
Gochya Barrier (metal gate) 14:50
One tractor waiting for an hour on the eastern side of the gate, arrived early. No one on the other side. At 15:17 a civilian vehicle arrives with two soldiers who open the gate and leave after the tractor crosses. I remind them they are supposed to remain there for half an hour. At 15:25 we leave, and the soldiers immediately as well.
Hamra Checkpoint 15:40
No waiting lines. One car arrives from the west, while a family with many children waits for it to cross.
Maale Efrayim 16:10
We stop ahead of time in order to be able to monitor the checkpoint before the soldiers notice us. A Palestinian cab arrives from the Jordan Valley, the driver stops, hesitates, but no one approaches to inspect him and he drives on. When we cross we realize there are no soldiers minding the lane for vehicles moving east to west.