Hamra, Tayasir, Fri 20.8.10, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
03:40-07:00 We decided this time as well to leave before dawn to see what happens at Tayasir and Hamra checkpoints during the hours people leave for work, because it’s Friday, and because it’s Ramadan.
BEZEQ checkpoint 03:40
We decided to begin at the Tayasir checkpoint.
04:00 Tayasir checkpoint
A warm breeze, still bearable (compared to how hot it will be later, when we’re no longer here).
Still completely dark. The soldiers’ positions are illuminated, as is the army camp. Two soldiers stand in the positions on the road. A dog barks incessantly, comes down from where the positions are located and walks into the darkness beyond the checkpoint area. We went up to the position; we were pleased that the soldiers didn’t think we were dangerous and didn’t react until they saw us, and asked what we were doing here. No, they hadn’t heard about MachsomWatch. They’re in the Duchifat unit, and will be stationed here for five months. Meanwhile, the soldier sleeping on a chair at the entrance to the upper position came into this one. The other two returned to the position on the road (we were in “the melting pot” – three soldiers from three different Jewish diasporas).
04:20 Laborers began arriving from Tayasir.
30-40 people crossed in succession. Those we asked were on their way to the settlement of Na’ama (near Jericho), to work in the date groves or picking herbs (it’s hard to refrain from imagining laborers “being cooked” in the greenhouses where the herbs are grown). We asked them what time it was, and learned that they operate according to the Occupier’s clock, at least in the area of the checkpoint and at work. Today is Friday, so they’ll leave only toward 13:00. Among the laborers were 15-year old youths. Two crossed barefoot, and looked as if they didn’t own any shoes. Those we asked how things were going said that today there were no delays and that the crossing was ok.
05:00 Again quiet, no people. The soldiers began making coffee.
The road to Hamra was not so dark any more. It’s easy to see the signs and the obstacle (a ditch and berm) stretching along the eastern side of the road.
05:30 Hamra checkpoint
A truck driver: “It’s going fast today.” The time? Like ours. (five-thirty in the morning). The passengers – here, too, we met laborers on their way to the settlement of Na’ama. And a small taxi, waiting to take people to Amman. Mini-van cabs passed, picking up families, mostly women dressed festively. We kept track of the cars from the time we first saw them on the road west of the checkpoint, until they crossed; it never took more than three minutes.
We didn’t see many soldiers when we arrived. An open military vehicle stood there; a male and a female soldier stood near the position on the road. The armored corps flags had been replaced by the gray and white flags of the Jordan Valley unit (those with dappled berets). This time we saw a red symbol on the flag that was different from what we had seen in the past. None of the soldiers there (later we counted eight) approached us, didn’t ask, didn’t inquire. Too bad, because we wanted to ask them about the guide to polite conversation at checkpoints, which newspaper reports associated with this checkpoints. Maybe they asked about us over the walkie-talkie.
05:55 Four soldiers got into the military vehicle and left, one of them yelling at us, “You’re shameless.”
Light traffic. People still arrive only from the west.
06:10 We left
We drove on the dirt road leading to the shepherds’ lean-to’s north of the northern vineyard of the settlement of Beqa’ot. We brought bags of clothing to one of the families that lives there (in constant fear of the Civil Administration, which shows up at least once a week to demolish the lean-to’s and confiscate the vehicles and tractors used for pulling water tanks for the sheep and the inhabitants). We politely refused to sit down. We continued to the next clothing stop (near one of the concrete pillars – “Caution: Live fire area”). We didn’t accept the invitation to sit there either; we just wished them well. And continued on our way.
06:58 BEZEQ checkpoint
We maintain the ritual:
- How are things?