Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Sun 30.1.11, Afternoon
Translation: Bracha B.A.
The Guchia Gate, which connects the town of Tamun with the Jordan valley, is open only three times a week, for an hour. The gate was supposed to be opened at 15.00 does not open. Two tractors and passengers, among them a woman with a baby, waited over two and a half hours in the cold and the rain, and finally one of them was not allowed to pass for bureaucratic reasons.
* At Tayasir the soldiers continue to delay people. This is the crossing north of the town of Tubas, providing essential services for the Bedouin population, many of whom go through every day to work, school, visits to the doctor, shopping, etc.
It is a cold rainy day. We did not enter the Bedouin encampments because of the rain and the mud.
Hamra Checkpoint - 12:15There are only a few people and cars here. People who arrive from the west get out of their cars and walk through, and then wait for more than fifteen minutes in the cold and rain until the car is checked. The shelter that people are supposed to wait under is being used to store water for the soldiers, so there is no room for people to wait underneath. And yet, people say that today the checkpoint is OK. So what happens when it's not OK?
Tayasir Checkpoint -13.15
We did not approach the checkpoint because lately the soldiers have stopped checking when we approach, and we did not come to argue with them. Nevertheless, it still happened. We stood at least 50 meters away, next to the red sign in the middle of the road, and a second lieutenant approached us and said this was a closed military area, and we should move back where we would not be able to observe anything. We told him that there was no legal basis for his demands. He called a superior officer who came over, and with that the issue was closed. During all this time the checks did not stop. Cars were being checked slowly and people going from the valley area A are being held up, while in the rest of the valley people are allowed to cross from the valley to Area A freely.
A van arrives from the west with workers and it is held up. All the passengers get out and stand in a line, and documents are checked. People in the rest of the cars are not asked to get out. A truck arrives from the same direction and stops while its contents are checked. AT 14:00 there is a five-minute break while the shift changes. While soldiers are checking cars arriving from the valley a taxi coming from the coming from the West Bank is forced to wait 15 minutes to be checked. All the passengers get out and their documents are checked, and after 7 minutes they get back in. The driver says that today things are just fine. On other days passengers are forced to get out and remove all their luggage – such as crates of oranges or bottles of oil – and carry it up the stairs to go through the pedestrian checkpoint. We have heard a lot of complaints about this checkpoint recently. Today there is very little traffic, perhaps because of the rain, so there is no long line.
We left at 14:40.
The fields on both sides of the road are plowed and planted. Without any water allowance from the water authority and with no irrigation the yield will be small, but people still work the fields.
14:55 – The encampment beneath the settlement of Maskiot
We went to the encampment because students from the military academy at Maskiot continually harass the shepherds who come to the meager well to water their flocks. Last week they beat a woman so badly that she required medical attention. (See Dafna's report from 27.1). We met Fatchi, who reported that one of the settlers attempted to drive his car into them when they were on the road with their herds, but was deterred when he saw us. The settlers have not gone down to the well since last Wednesday.
15:55 – Guchia Gate
The gate is supposed to be open from 15:00 to 15:30, but when we arrived we found a woman with a baby waiting, along with two tractors. They had been there since 14:30. They called Dafna who attempted to help. We also called whoever we could, including Zarahan and Idan at the Liaison and Coordination Administration in Jericho, the operations officer, and the Humanitarian hotline to complain. We continued calling every 15 minutes and were told that the soldiers with the key were on their way. After we left we called again and were told that they had finally arrived two hours late. They did not let one person through because his ID had been taken by the police, despite the fact that he had a permit.
When we passed through the Maaleh Ephraim Checkpoint we saw soldiers but no Palestinian cars. We were not delayed.