Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Thu 27.1.11, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
11:20 At the entrance to Ariel – A flying checkpoint of two police cars, three policemen and two soldiers. One of the policemen looks into each car, which has to slow down to pass through the narrow space between the squad cars parked across the road. The only ones stopped and pulled over to the side are Israelis who look Middle Eastern and cars with Palestinian license plates. The passengers get out and the car is carefully inspected. After the vehicle and documents are checked, it continues on its way. A car belonging to an Israeli a (Jew) is pulled over to the side – a headlight isn’t working. The soldier warns the driver and sends him on. In contrast, a Palestinian gets a ticket and a lecture because a rear tire of his Volkswagen needs air (Is that even a violation? The policeman might even have checked a different item, since the Palestinian certainly can’t read what’s written there). The driver grins submissively/in embarrassment after getting the ticket (what, after all, can he do?), the soldiers jeering, “Look – he gets a ticket and he’s smiling!”
11:50 We left.
12:20 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – No soldiers, only a settler who settled where the soldiers are stationed.
12:45 Hamra checkpoint - A soldier runs towards us and, from a distance, tries to prevent us from reaching the checkpoint with a threatening motion. His companion pulls him back before he does anything violent. We are told we’re forbidden to enter the checkpoint area. Quietly we tell them we’re staying here. People coming from the west get out of their vehicles and cross on foot. The come out holding their belts in their hands. The soldier checking indicates with a slight hand motion, “Open the bag,” and with another gesture, “Yalla, get out of here.”
Two jeeps and a paddywagon go through toward Nablus, one driven by a man wearing civilian clothes, but armed – arrests?
13:50 Tayasir checkpoint – The checkpoint commander approaches us and forbids us to photograph. We show him the letter from the army press office and he backs off. He doesn’t try to chase us away from our usual location. Few people crossing, but it’s very, very slow in both directions – a rigorous inspection, including opening the trunk. Passengers have to go through the checkpoint on foot here as well.
14:15 The shift changes. The new commander, to start things off, tries to get rid of us. I want to show him the letter from the army press office, but he says that he has orders from the company commander, “and for me his word is law!”
A minibus arrives from the Jordan Valley – a soldier gets in to check the passengers, who are headed to Area A.
People on foot are made to approach “one by one,” and whoever fails to do so, like an old woman or children, are immediately yelled at to move back, “Stop! Stop!! Move back! Move back!”
We left at 14:40
15:05 Gochia gate – A jeep arrives. No Palestinians. The soldiers don’t even get out.
15:20 – 16:10 Violence by settlers from Maskiyot
The Bedouin encampment of the Darajmah family at the Tayasir junction: last night I received a frantic call from the residents that between 30 and 50 young settlers (apparently students in the military preparatory program at Maskiyot) came down to their encampment and forcefully blocked the cows coming back from grazing, or from reaching the spring to quench their thirst from coming home. They hit Seti Darajmah’s wife in the face, and also his young son, and were armed. The Palestinians said they used clubs and rocks. The Palestinians called the police. A policeman who lives in Mehola arrived, took the side of the settlers and also tried to prevent the cows from returning home. Finally an army jeep arrived, chased the settlers off and made clear that the cows had a right to drink from the spring (all this – according to the Palestinians’ reports). They asked for our protection and said that on Sunday settlers threatened to come daily and prevent the cows from returning to the encampment and to the spring (which is located among the tents) – until the Palestinians leave! They contacted the settlement’s army security coordinator; the settlers didn’t come back for two days, but on Wednesday they did – in larger numbers and more violently. They didn’t show up today – perhaps they saw us from up there.
Two girls, one 14 years old and the other about 9, arrived with their herds of cows, frightened. They said one of the cows ran away from the herd and is grazing near the road to Maskiyot. Would we drive her to get it back? They don’t dare go near the settlement. We took the girls to where the cow was greatly enjoying the fresh grass, and kept an eye on them until they were out of danger. Their joy and relief as they skipped happily leading the rebellious cow back to the herd were almost unbearable.
16:30 Hamra checkpoint – No lines.
17:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim – The side of the checkpoint from the West Bank to the Jordan Valley is manned - probably to catch those whose vehicle isn’t registered in the Jordan Valley