Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sat 15.10.11, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
08:35 Tapuach junction checkpoint
Three soldiers at the checkpoint, one in the parking lot tower. No detainees; cars aren’t stopped for inspection (just observed). A fair amount of traffic from the direction of Nablus.
Entire families among and within the olive groves along the road – harvesting! Also on the way to the Jordan Valley. We hope their day goes smoothly, without violence by settlers. Maybe the fact that it’s Saturday will help.
08:55 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
09:30 Hamra checkpoint
West to east: Seven pedestrians waiting; they’d crossed.
A truck leaves after having been inspected; the taxi that carried the seven is now inspected and goes through one minute later.
Three more cars wait behind a line that’s apparently marked on the road (about 20 meters from the checkpoint). They signal to the driver, “come,” he arrives, gets out, opens the trunk, shows documents and crosses. Two minutes.
Now a small truck. Two minutes. Another car, three minutes this time.
East to west: One car was waiting when we arrived. Waits for a signal and then goes through without inspection. A taxi arrives and crosses immediately.
In summary: Heavy traffic from the west to the Jordan Valley. Inspection is pretty fast (1-3 minutes); trucks as well as pedestrians go through quickly today.
10:10 Tayasir checkpoint
Two soldiers, one of them an officer.
From the west: Two trucks going to the Jordan Valley from the direction of Tubas cross after a quick document inspection. Pedestrians cross quickly here today also (1-2 minutes).
From the east: One car waiting to cross. Don’t the soldiers see it? Ignore it? In any case, they don’t let it cross. The family in the car waited three minutes for the wave of a hand, and the old car struggled up to the checkpoint. The driver showed his ID and license, soldiers looked at the passengers and opened the gate for them to cross.
10:23 A loaded taxi arrived, also waited a few minutes for a wave of the hand. Meanwhile the driver collected all the passengers’ IDs.
10:28 The taxi crossed.
I asked the soldier why they have to inspect someone travelling from the Jordan Valley to Palestinian Authority territory. He replies: “To make sure they’re not smuggling a soldier they put a kaffiyeh on, or a Thai.”
In response to our question about whether there’s any special reason the soldiers wait a few minutes before signaling someone to advance, he replies: “I’m also busy doing other things; as soon as I’m done, I signal.”
10:50 Back to the Hamra checkpoint
Five soldiers - one in the booth in the middle of the road, two checking cars coming from Nablus, two emptying garbage cans. The one in the booth waves people through from the Jordan Valley to the west. It’s hard to see the hand-wave (he’s in the booth, in shadow); sometimes it takes three waves until the driver sees, advances and goes through without stopping.
In summary: crossing is quick in both directions.
11:20 Ma’aleh Efrayim –
11:40 Tapuach junction
Three soldiers on the road, one in the tower, a military jeep in the parking lot. Heavy traffic. No inspections.
A Border Police jeep at the southern entrance to Huwwara. At the grocery – people talk about the olive harvest and the problems anticipated from the settlers (arson, breaking the trees). The harvest is expected to last another 20-30 days.
12:15 Huwwara checkpoint
We went back to Highway 60, continued to Highway 57 (557 on the map) to the huge checkpoint toward Anabta and Tulkarm.
12:40 Anabta checkpoint
We retraced our route – from Highway 60 we turned onto Highway 55 – to Jit, Funduq, Azzun and on to the Eliyahu crossing.