Hamra, Tayasir, Tue 21.9.10, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
Bezeq checkpoint 13:10
We drove through. No one paid any attention to us. A weapon pointed at the road; we can’t see the head and body of the person holding it. Afternoon. The Jordan Valley is steaming – very, very hot and humid.
Soldiers stationed at the pickup point, and another on the hill. They seem to be on duty. When we return we’ll already know their job is to guard the new recruits’ parents who are riding around in the afternoon heat searching for the Kfir base where a recruits “Parents Day” is underway.
We: “Hello.” Soldier: “Hello, hello.” Others are notified of our arrival over the wireless: “…If they interfere, tell him and he’ll take care of it…” I wonder what we have to do that would constitute interfering??? Beyond that, the soldiers take no notice of us. Why are all of them sergeants today?
Middle Eastern melodies wailing to God on high (coming from a cellphone), IDs inspected next to the computer station. Women’s purses checked externally – the sergeant leaning against the wall hefts them in his hand to estimate their weight. Buses and cars carrying laborers pass westward without delays. The IDs of drivers coming from the west are checked at the position on the road. The passengers, “wahad wahad” [one by one] go through inspection in the upper lane. Laborers from Tayasir cross to work in a Palestinian date factory near Jericho. They’ll work until 10 PM.
A school minibus arrives. The soldiers are on the alert for the flood running toward them. The children burst out through the revolving gate. The first picks up a package of bread that was lying on the side, the others notice us and ask for presents, food, money, a watch…They have to make do with greetings and handshakes and run to the waiting minibus. A Palestinian truck stops at the checkpoint, on its roof a sign, “There’s none like him, King of the Road.”
14:10 A soldier laden with equipment arrives for the new shift; the rest will come when we leave.
14:20 We left.
14:50 Hamra checkpoint
A small sign, like the one we saw at the previous junction, gets our attention, and we cross the road to read and photograph it. Two soldiers (sergeants) approach us. Who are you? We reply. They thought we stopped because of a problem with our car and came over to find out. We thanked them. They told us about Parents Day for the Kfir brigade recruits. The male and female soldiers were busy showing parents who’d lost their way how to return. While the soldiers at the checkpoint were dealing with wayward parents, the Palestinian cars had to wait. The junction became somewhat crowded. Here’s what it looked like: Cars with the soldiers’ parents waiting behind Palestinian cars??!!. Good Lord! How frightening!!! So they honk in annoyance and pass them at the junction – on the right, on the left…
Nuri leaves the checkpoint and asks about Dafna. He praises her. Tells us that today the soldiers are ok. Invites us for coffee. We politely refuse (we’re dreaming of air conditioning and we have to get to Parents Day soon).
15:35 We left.
We decided to drive to “Parents Day.”
We removed our MachsomWatch badges and turned east at the junction leading to the Kfir base. The flags that greeted us at the junction were evidence of how the soldiers should think: Written on them, in red: “Think Army”
A female soldier greeted us and waved us on to a male soldier (or maybe it was the other way around) who pointed us to the parking lots. Families laden with baskets, flowers, balloons passed by a stand where they received a white rose and a printed sheet of colored paper (a different color for each battalion) from the brigade commander. We asked for the page for Dukhifat (because they’re the ones at the checkpoint today). We were told that the texts are all identical. We decided not to continue inside, because we really had no business there. On our way we saw more parents who’d gotten lost and were on their way to the Peless base, and had started returning.
16:00 Bezeq checkpoint