Hamra, Tayasir, Sun 8.8.10, Morning

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Revital S., Rochaleh H. (reporting)

Charles K.

03:15 – 06:15  We decided to start before dawn in order to see what goes on at the Hamra checkpoint during the hours that people cross on their way to work.  We asked what time it starts to get crowded, and decided to arrive by 4 am.  It was dark when we started out – still night, and hot!!!

Bezeq checkpoint  03:15
We went through.

We decided to begin at the Hamra checkpoint.  We drove on Route 90 (the Jordan Valley road).  We turned west at the Jiftlik, toward the Hamra checkpoint.

04:00  Hamra checkpoint
The area of the checkpoint is illuminated.  The DCO jeep and four soldiers.  Two buses parked on the side, on their way to Kalya.  The passengers, laborers from around Jenin, put their belts back on as they walk toward the buses.  This scene will accompany us all morning.  A military vehicle (for transporting prisoners) arrived at 04:20; 8-10 soldiers, two female soldiers a and a dog get out.  A minibus crosses, carrying laborers from Tubas to the settlement of Yafit, then to the settlement of Ro’i, and so on.  From time to time some of those crossing go off to the side of the checkpoint area (toward the southwest) to pray.

Many car headlights are visible on the road west of the checkpoint (the cars turn off their lights in the checkpoint area).  Apparently the passengers get out ahead of time and go through the security check before their vehicle arrives and goes through the checkpoint.  We see the passengers waiting for the vehicle which brought them (a minibus or bus or some other vehicle).  It’s hard to say how long a vehicle waits on line until reaching the checkpoint.  We timed two buses: ten minutes from the moment one crossed until it left, and most of the passengers were already waiting for it.  Most of those crossing are young men, laborers in the settlements (picking dates and grapes).  Very few women.  Some families also crossed.  More than once the DCO told us proudly that each morning 4,000 or more people cross.  This morning the number seemed smaller.

The soldiers at the checkpoint (armored corps reservists) guard both sides of the road.  The dog is located at the position on the road.  One of the soldiers approaches us, gently asks what we’re doing here.  “A winning family” is written on his hat.  “Ah, that’s our battalion’s hat…”  His compatriots urge him to stop talking to us and get back to his guard post on the road.

05:15  Someone from Tayasir approaches us.  He says that people are let  through Tayasir very slowly, one at a time, and it takes a long time between vehicles.  He gave up waiting to cross there and crossed through Hamra after a detour of an hour (through Tubas).

So we went to Tayasir.

05:45  Tayasir
.  A cool wind.
Four reservists.  A fifth in the tower.  The place is pretty deserted, apparently the busy time is over.  We say hello to the laborers.  No one complains that the crossing is slow or about long lines.

Soldier:  “Don’t you say good morning to us if we’re not Arabs???”

05:55  Soldiers begin arriving from the base to replace the five stationed there.

06:05  The entire shift has been replaced.  Someone asks, referring to us, “What’s this?,” and another answers, “They’re making a documentary about you.”

06:10  A truck passes, loaded with sand and gravel for construction, and we leave.  The place is empty.

06:30  Bezeq checkpoint
They didn’t even ask how we were.