Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 22.5.11, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
11:30 Za’tara junction
We turned toward Huwwara to meet a Palestinian suing to overturn the decision to deny him entry to Israel for security reasons; Sylvia is handling his case. A policeman stopped us in the middle of the road next to the building with the soldiers, and asked to see our license and registration. We showed him and he let us continue. We pulled over to the side to see whether he also stops other people (we weren’t displaying Machsom Watch flags). We saw someone directing all the traffic to Nablus, including Palestinians, to the right-hand lane – in other words, bypassing inspection by the soldiers. Our policeman stopped more drivers with yellow license plates. We saw more than one driver argue with him. Who ever heard of an Israeli driver being stopped for inspection in the occupied territory?!!!
A soldier stood by one of the buildings and let Palestinian traffic through without delays.
A short time later, on our return from Huwwara, five vehicles were on line from the same direction but they went through at a reasonable rate (what’s “reasonable?”) We saw the soldier arguing with a driver, maybe giving him a ticket.
12:05 Ma’aleh Efrayim. Empty.
Eyal Levy’s fields surrounding the packing house between Sha’ar Efrayim and Mekhora are expanding. The green blazes amidst the yellow of the surrounding Palestinian fields that are beginning to wither. True, it’s an effort to make the wilderness flourish – but at whose expense? The water – denied to the local inhabitants. Employment – of local residents for NIS 50/day, without any social benefits (as reported by Sna’it, Nur and Karin).
We saw large piles of discarded vegetables next to the packing house. Had the Bedouin known, they would have rushed to carry them off.
The settlement of Mekhora is also expanding its cultivated area.
12:30-13:00 Hamra checkpoint
Two vehicles wait from the east even though no vehicle is currently being inspected. Three minutes later one of them is motioned through, without inspection (it’s entering Area A). The same thing occurs a few times: the soldiers let a few minutes pass after they inspect a vehicle until they call the next one.
Vehicles heading west (from the Jordan Valley to the West Bank) go through without inspection.
A tractor carrying children drives west pulling a water wagon; they’re returning from school in Furshat Beit Dajan, to their homes in the tent encampments west of the checkpoint. The remaining children, who were less fortunate, have to come the whole way on foot, in the terrible summer heat, a distance of a few kilometers.
The earth berm to the left of the road has been raised higher recently to prevent vehicles and tractors from going west of Route 578 – the Alon Road (except during the limited number of hours when the Gochia gate is open – if they open it all).
Four gazelles leap around in the area to our right.
The fields and greenhouses of the settlement of Ro’i, which are so green, are expanding. They receive generous water allocations for a low price, the same water that’s being stolen from the residents of the area, most of them Bedouin, who are denied water allocations with bureaucratic arguments.
The settlement of Maskiyot is expanding to the south.
13:30-14:30 Tayasir checkpoint
Light traffic in both directions.
Two American journalists working for Al Jazeera in Jordan return from Tubas. They’re impressed by the calm atmosphere in the territories administered by the Palestinian Authority, compared to the tension, checkpoints and restrictions in Area C under direct control of the Israeli army.
13:50 Two cars have been waiting five minutes even though the checkpoint is empty. Then two soldiers come down from the booth on the hill and begin the inspection. Seven minutes later they begin checking the cars waiting from the west.
A taxi driver thanks us for being here. The wait at the checkpoint is shorter when we’re here.
14:05 They block the checkpoint in both directions with plastic cubes because they’re repairing the bar that blocks entry. One laborer is working near one of the bars. We go over to see. Meanwhile, a line of seven cars forms on our side. Five minutes later they move the plastic cubes to let cars pass (we think it’s because we’re here; the laborer still keeps working even as the cars go through).
A minibus going to Area A is inspected for five minutes. Two young men have to get out, then get back in and the minibus drives away. Meanwhile four cars have assembled on the other side, because they’re only checking vehicles from one direction at a time. Two soldiers with nothing to do sit near us, because they’re not checking pedestrians.
14:20 Now they’re closing the crossing from the west (the laborer changed his location), where cars have been waiting since 14:05.
14:25 Finally something clicked somewhere, and they start letting through cars from the west in the other lane, which had been empty the whole time. Pedestrians also cross.
14:30 We leave. There’s only one car at the checkpoint.
In Kadri’s tent(at the junction of Route 578 and the road to Tayasir, below the Maskiyot settlement).
Kadricomplains they’re not allowed to use water from the spring that passes next to their encampment. In recent months, settlers from Maskiyot have been harassing the Bedouin living at the foot of the ridge, and also chasing their flocks from the spring. When they turned to the Civil Administration for help, they were asked to show a permit to use water from the spring. The Bedouin believe that God gave the springs for all to use. That’s how those who connected in time, that is, before 1967, to water from the Ein Shibli spring, have free water allocations. God doesn’t distribute water permits.
Kadri’sbrother, whose horse was maliciously and savagely killed three weeks ago by Rami, the person in charge of security at Maskiyot, is afraid to complain to the police.
15:00 Gochia gate
A tractor waits from the west. No one comes to open the gate. We telephone the DCO situation room. They say it’s supposed to open only at 15:30. We argue (because they’re wrong). They promise to handle it.
15:15 An army jeep arrives. Meanwhile, another tractor shows up. They inspect documents (always. How could it be otherwise?) Allow them through. We wait (the gate is supposed to remain open until 15:30), so the soldiers also wait.
15:45 Hamra checkpoint
A police pickup truck in the checkpoint’s courtyard. A man approaches us – tells us to hurry and see what’s going on. A young man, a relative who was with them, was arrested and handcuffed. The policeman in the pickup shows us a knife sheath containing, apparently, a knife. It’s about 15 cm. long, the kind we use at picnics or when camping, in a new leather sheath. That’s what they found on him. They’ll take him to the army base at Ma’aleh Efrayim and from there, maybe after interrogation, to the Ariel police station We passed the information on to the family. They said that he’s a Palestinian Authority policeman.
We drove to see the army base adjoining the settlement of Ma’aleh Efrayim. There’s also a field school. They’re all religious.
16:05 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint. There are soldiers. There aren’t any cars.
16:35 Za’tara checkpoint. The police jeep is still parked in the courtyard (that’s where the policeman who checked us came from).
Ten cars coming from the direction of Huwwara wait to be inspected by the soldiers.
We see a new neighborhood under construction to the east on the Ariel ridge.