גוכיה, חמרה (בקעות), מעבר שומרון, מעלה אפרים, תיאסיר, יום א' 2.1.11, אחה"צ
Translator: Charles K.
Our entire shift was affected by terrible impression resulting from the killing of the young Palestinian at the Beqa’ot (Hamra) checkpoint.
11:55 Ma’aleh Efrayim – No soldiers, only settlers in the soldiers’ booths. We didn’t see soldiers on our way back (at 15:45) either.
12:20 Hamra checkpoint – Light traffic, people go through quickly. The soldiers aren’t the same ones who killed the Palestinian this morning. The soldiers said the military police took them for questioning. When we arrived we saw two pickup trucks with Israeli plates. A civilian sat in one, another stood next to it, and a Palestinian between them being questioned. Later he told me they were from the GSS, asking him various personal questions. A young man (looks to be about 16) waits in a concrete emplacement to be similarly interrogated, carrying his belt in his hand. His interrogation lasts about 5 minutes, and then he also continues on his way. This was after both had already gone through the checkpoint and been inspected. They weren’t asked about this morning’s incident; anyway, they weren’t here and know nothing about it.
People cross quickly; no unusual inspections, but the soldiers keep gathering into groups and talking among themselves. They’re not hostile toward us, and don’t intervene when we speak to those interrogated by the GSS.
Later we meet a Palestinian who witnessed this morning’s shooting:From what the Palestinian eyewitness told us:
Around 8 AM the shahid [martyr] arrived at the Hamra checkpoint. The soldiers were jumpy. He stood on line; there were many people. He reached the metal detector, places his belongings beside it and went through. He didn’t have a knife or a bottle. When he wanted to exit the checkpoint he was supposed to go around to the right, but he turned left toward the road on which the cars are inspected.- maybe he got mixed up. The female soldier doing the checking started yelling hysterically, “Irja la’ora, irja” [Go back, go], but he didn’t. Then the soldiers fired a barrage of shots at him. They simply riddled him with bullets. The unbearable ease with which they pulled the trigger. As if the live of a Palestinian has no value whatsoever.
At the Jordan Valley Solidarity center we meet a group of fifty Italians, headed by the wonderful Luisa Morgantini. The meeting was very moving; she described Machsom Watch as if we were among the Righteous. I described the situation in the Jordan Valley.
14:00 Tayasir checkpoint – Light traffic. Cars heading toward the West Bank fly through, those heading down to the Jordan Valley are carefully inspected; the driver has to get out and open the trunk. A lieutenant tries to make us move back to the junction, claiming that our very presence is bothering him (“I decide what bothers me”). He says, “This is my checkpoint, and I’ll close it down if I feel like it.” He says he’ll call the police and we invite him to do so. The other soldiers are friendly; they tell us that they’re sick of being there (4 ½ months). A soldier in the pillbox loudly sings Israeli oriental songs – it seems to me that singing loudly at the checkpoint reflects considerable hostility toward those passing through.
Palestinians going to the Jordan Valley have to get out of their cars and walk through the checkpoint, remove their belts and go through the metal detector “wahad-wahad” [one by one]. But the soldier checking their IDs doesn’t harass them with questions, unlike what usually happens.
Those who crossed wait in the sun on the other side of the checkpoint for the cars that are being inspected.
14:25 A shift change, but the checkpoint stays open.
15:05 Gochia gate – An army jeep arrives carrying the two officers we met at Tayasir, who open the gate. There are no Palestinians.
15:15 Hamra - The checkpoint commander comes over to us, and before we’ve entered the checkpoint warns us not to approach but to stand at the junction. Since we hadn’t intended to stay, and saw that the soldiers and officers are tense and a confrontation could harm the Palestinians we decided this time not to go closer.
We ran into acquaintances who had just come through the checkpoint; they were very angry. The told us the female soldier yelled at them and at the others going through, harassing them by making them approach and then go back, over and over again. A number of different people told the same story.
16:20 Shomron crossing (entry to Israel) – Perhaps because the Machsom Watch flag flying from our car, the female guard lowered the barrier (in order that we not break into the state of Israel without her permission), asked for IDs and inspected the trunk. She got excited to see Susanna’s US passport (she has a very, very Jewish last name, but nevertheless – a foreigner!!!). She called to more guards who also examined the passport and called it in on the walkie-talkie. And then sent us to the building off to the side. There they called a more senior officer, who asked whether we knew her and what her relation to us is, etc. Then they made her get out of the car and took her to the building where they put her belongings through the x-ray machine, and when they discovered she wasn’t carrying smart bombs or bottles of dangerous liquids – they let us go. The guest, as expected, got very anxious. As one who first came to Israel with Young Judea, but went through a lot of changes here, it was a very interesting lesson.