13:30 Maalei Ephraim – no Palestinian cars. We didn’t stop.
Along the Allon Road (578), earth mounds, concrete blocks and a deep trench, all to prevent passage from the West Bank to the Jordan Valley, or the reverse, other than through the checkpoints. Not one stone removed and no sense of easement at the checkpoints.
The Jordan Valley is closed, locked off, as always.
14:00 Hamra (Beqaot)
When we arrive, we see long lines of cars, 14 from the east and 16 from the direction of Nablus. No checking activity visible when we arrive, which explains the long lines. From the moment of our arrival and within five minutes the line from the east vanishes, but from Nablus the line remains long throughout our shift.
14:10 – we phone the DCO to protest the slowness of the soldiers and the length of the lines.
14:30 – the soldiers close the checkpoint while contending a (staged) suspicion about one of the trucks ("Pay attention to the truck that I told you, don’t forget!") We ask the soldiers why they closed the checkpoint but they don’t answer.
A woman with two small children – the 3-year old is crying and looks ill: she has a high temperature, and the mother asks a soldier to help in passing their taxi so they don’t get stuck in the line of waiting cars. The woman stands with her sick child in the sun, and we suggest to her that she moves into the shade built for the Palestinians, but not used by them because a coil of barbed wire prevents entry from the Palestinian side, virtually saying "forbidden here!"
The soldiers are shaken by our move and shout to each other "see the mess! Call the police..."
The taxi with mother and sick child passes and collects them, but more are waiting and again there are long lines on both sides. At no stage did we know that the checkpoint was closed because of us, and the soldiers, even if not talking to us, do not display hostility. We phone the DCO and a soldier tells us that the checkpoint supervisor had ordered the brigade not to close checkpoints. Only afterwards at Tayasir does the same soldier tell us that the Hamra Checkpoint was closed because of our presence!
15:00 – the checkpoint opens but the the soldiers are very slow, only passing a vehicle from one side at a time, and amusing themselves, searching for a puppy that the unit apparently adopted, circulating – while the Palestinians wait outside their cars in the sun, because their cars are searing hot without air conditioners.
Each car coming from Nablus drops its passengers who have to cross the checkpoint on foot. The car moves up a bit, stops, the driver gets out, pirouettes with raised shirt, returns to the car and drives up to the soldiers for a check. There is no shade (the roof erected for the Palestinians is sealed by coiled barbed wire), and the passengers wait in the sun because the pedestrian check is always faster...
15:15 Gochya Gate
The gate supposed to open for half an hour three times a week, is closed. No Palestinians and no soldiers. Perhaps the Palestinians have passed and the soldiers left, maybe no one came.
No lines when we arrive. Two cars from east and two from west. The soldiers immediately come over to drive us away. When we refuse to go, they close the checkpoint. When the line from the east reaches five cars, we phone the DCO and back off 30 metres from the checkpoint. The checkpoint opens and two cars pass, but then the commander decides that our distance is not to his liking, and demands that we move another 50 metres. We refuse and he again closes the checkpoint. Very hot, and every minute spent waiting in the cars is torture.
16:00 – apparently under pressure from the DCO, the checkpoint reopens, but the checking is very slow, not because of an in-depth search, but because the soldiers take long breaks between each car. Their pace is relaxed. They chat among themselves and when they do check – it is five minutes per car, including westbound to the West Bank. The soldiers explain to the Palestinians (in Hebrew, of course) that the checkpoint is closed because of us. Suprisingly enough, after the explanation the Palestinians pass by and wave even more friendly than usual (perhaps now they really understand that we are not working with the army).
Tto our joy there were this week no exceptional occurrences, no new demolition orders or attempts to destroy. Perhaps the international pressure and the world’s opened eyes to see what Israel is doing in the valley, have prevented destruction at this stage.
20:15 Maale Ephraim
No Palestinians, only two settlers stuck in the centre of the checkpoint, in the soldiers’ emplacement, looking for a ride.