Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Tue 3.5.11, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
11:00 Ma’aleh Efraim – No soldiers. On our way back at 16:50 the checkpoint was manned by three soldiers. It’s a tried-and-true method of harassing the Palestinians. Since the checkpoint isn’t manned part of the time, all those who aren’t permitted to cross to the Jordan Valley arrive from the Hamra and Tayasir checkpoints (in any case, you can cross from the southern portion of the Jordan Valley – so there’s no security justification for the prohibition) – those whose car is registered in the name of a company rather than in the driver’s name, those who don’t live in the Jordan Valley, etc. And then – suddenly they man the checkpoint, and one car after another is sent back!
We stopped to see R., who lives behind Beqa’ot’s vineyards. Two days ago his two brothers (aged 21 and 23) were arrested, as well as another Palestinian from theBani Ouda family. They were held at the Hamra checkpoint for five hours, then taken to the Ma’aleh Efraim police station, then in the evening to the army base above the Hamra checkpoint, and in the middle of the night to jail in the Huwwara army base. The DCO told me they’d stolen empty bullet casings. Why is that a crime? It’s not theft; at best, they’d gathered empty casings that had been left on the ground. Does the army want to keep its empty casings? Let its soldiers pick them up. When I called the police, the duty officer wouldn’t give me any information – he’d only speak to a lawyer. The police recommended getting them a Palestinian lawyer, and gave me a name of someone who hangs around the Ariel police station looking for clients. (Note: as of 6.5.11, they hadn’t yet been released). R. also told us that a month ago he got a NIS 1000 fine because he grazed his sheep too close to the Alon Route.
At Abu Sakkar’s encampment they told us that yesterday (2.5.11) at midnight soldiers showed up, along with Amnon, the Nature Authority warden, at G’s tent, next to the Gochia gate, turned everything upside down looking for something and took him with them. They gave no reason.
14:30 Tayasir checkpoint– No lines when we arrive. People cross quickly to the West Bank, soldiers checking IDs and peering into the taxis – comparing faces with the photos. Cars crossing to the Jordan Valley are inspected. The soldiers are from combat engineer units. The checkpoint commander is eager to talk with us. He says they’re leaving tomorrow.
(since they left, on 4.5 and on 5.5, every day we get calls from people who’ve been waiting for 1 ½ -2 hours at the checkpoint, and complaints about long lines (up to 30 cars).
15:00 Gochia checkpoint The army jeep is already at the gate. No Palestinians.
15:20 – Hamra checkpoint The commander tries to get rid of us, and even closes the checkpoint, but reopens it five minutes later. People crossing to the West Bank are usually not inspected, and the crossing to the Jordan Valley is also quick. A young female driver, Israeli, arrives from the West Bank, slows, and when the soldier approaches she steps on the gas and drives past him quickly into Area A. The stunned soldier does nothing. Nor do his mates. They call to report what happened. Today people planned to reach Joseph’s Tomb, and she may have decided to breach the checkpoint and get there by herself.
16:20 We left.