Hamra, Tayasir, Tue 5.10.10, Morning

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Ravital S., Rachel H. (reporting and photographing)

Translator:  Charles K.

Bezeq checkpoint 13:10We passed through.  No one paid any attention to us. 

(Photo:  Biblical landscape, Jordan Valley)
13:30  TayasirWe went up to our observation point next to the soldiers’ position.  An officer used his cell phone to photograph a Palestinian man standing with his arms outstretched holding an opened ID card.  The officer faced the soldiers’ position, and the man faced us.  After he came through the revolving gate and the inspection we asked him why he was photographed; he shrugged and didn’t reply.  We didn’t have an opportunity to ask the 2nd lieutenant.  He demanded IDs; it wasn’t enough to tell him we were from Machsom Watch.  We refused and he told us to leave because we were interfering with his work and it’s a closed military area.  We refused, because it isn’t!  It’s an open civilian area!  And all we’re doing is observing.  Again he asked for identification.  In response to our request that he identify himself, he said that he didn’t have his ID with him.  We gave him our standard speech about our right to stand near him.  We suggest he ask the DCO.  He continued to insist.  He ordered someone over the walkie-talkie or the phone to bring him his wallet, and from that moment on he was only hostile but no longer harassed us.

We heard many shots the entire time we were there!
A soldier cleans up and throws away the remains of lunch.  A tray is left for the cats.  Two bags of bread for the children returning from school, who fight over the bread (it’s hard to avoid the associations and the images so deeply inculcated in us).  After the children realize we won’t give them any money they run toward their waiting ride.  The vehicle this time is new and very spacious, compared to the small jalopy we’re used to seeing.  After the flood of children the officer takes time to inveigle to cat to eat.  From time to time he shouts “ta’al” to someone waiting at the entrance.  ID’s aren’t checked against the computer.  Sparse traffic on foot.
The walkie-talkie bursts forth: “How many Watch women are there at ???” 
Reply: A pair.  Two Israel-haters standing over us.  Pass it on to One.  Roger.”A garbage truck followed by a refrigerator truck enter the base.  The officer looks through binoculars.  Discovers the flag is torn and must be replaced.  Officer to the road:  “The last three digits of the taxi?”  The road:  “Oh, that’s not what they said.”  Who are they waiting for?  Today we won’t get an answer.

  We left.

West of the road to the Hamra checkpoint, where the signs say “Danger – firing range” next to the tents and the shepherds living in them, we see many soldiers in groups.  They’re drinking coffee or standing with their backs to the road.
They’re resurfacing the road today also Stop/Go).  They’ve made good progress northward during the past two weeks.

News flash!  East of the road, on the ridge where the settlement of Maskiyot established itself, we can see new buildings being built.  Next to them a soldier and a car.  Today we’re impressed once again by the very healthy, very green orchard east of the road.  Israel is drying up, water is very limited for non-Jewish inhabitants, while here the settlers have orchards and vineyards…

14:35  Hamra checkpoint
Two people (non-Jews) clean the water conduit below the road.  A soldier watches over them.  A soldier and a female MP come over to tell us they’re concerned about our safety, and their checkpoint is closed to us.  They also have to understand that we’re not leaving and they’re wrong about who owns this place.  From the moment the discussion ends – we became irrelevant.  Five male and two female soldiers took a break for coffee, songs and jokes.  From time to time a male and female soldier came out to wave through people coming from the east (the Jordan Valley).  Those coming from the west (the West Bank) received slightly more serious attention.  The few people crossing on foot were happy to see us.  “Welcome to Palestine,” they called to us.

When we were ready to leave a brown Xsara arrived at the checkpoint from the west – Area A – with a yellow license plate that crossed and continued north.  We photographed it.  We’ve already run into Israelis drilling for water from Area A; perhaps that car was one of them.

  We left.

On our way back we drove up to the settlement of Maskiyot.  They’re in fact building (photo).  At the entrance to the locality is a large, new public building, probably completed during the “building freeze.”  We didn’t enter the settlement because the gate was closed; it opens only for people it knows.

On the way to the Bezeq checkpoint we saw a huge D-9, clean, with barred windows, being transported on a semi-trailer.

15:50  Bezeq
The guard wants to know where we’ve come from.  We replied, and continued on our way.