Tue 1.11.11, Afternoon
Translation: Bracha B.A.
On the slopes of the hill where the settlement of Tomer is situated we saw a long barbed-wire fence running parallel and to the south of the road. Could it have been there and we had never noticed it before?
A minibus is parked at the tent encampment (beneath the settlement of Maskiot south of the junction leading to Tayasir). There is a group of tourists, ad Palestinian guide, and a man and woman from the tent encampment. We went to see what was going on and found a group of tourists from France. The guide told us that he was from Nablus and lived in France. There was also a "local" with them – a young Irish man who lives in the Jiftlik and is an activist in the Jordan Valley Solidarity movement. They were interested in what we were doing. We learned that the school was not operating since the teachers had not received their salaries from the Palestinian Authority for the past six months. We asked if there had been any exceptional incidents in the area by the army or the settlers. A young man who lives in the tent campground told us that the army had placed mines in the area during the last month. We didn't understand where, and were told that this had happened in the past few weeks.
Hamra Checkpoint, 12:30
There are many cars going west. People are crossing quickly and there are also workers and students crossing westward without being checked. Most of them are turning north towards the tent campground above the checkpoint. A car with a yellow license plate arrived from the west, did not pass the inspection point, and turned back.
At 13:00 a car arrives, bringing lunch. It is joined by a car with detainees and another jeep. The soldiers are busy distributing food. A line with five cars forms east of the checkpoint. One of the drivers understood that he was supposed to drive up to the checkpoint, arrived at the junction, and was immediately sent back. (Why?) Someone gets out and tells us that there are a lot of people waiting to be checked at the checkpoint. A private car is waiting near the checkpoint on the road and is not being allowed to pass. A traffic jam forms. The driver's brother also has a car but starts to walk across and stands next to us. After about 10 minutes the soldiers permit the car to drive to the traffic island and allow the other cars to pass. The passengers in the cars waiting next to us began to talk to us and talk about themselves. From our telephone conversation with the driver who was being detained we learned that his driver's license, car keys, and ID card. The brothers are both teachers from Jenin. They wanted to get to Jericho and then to Amman. Presumably the car does not have a permit to pass the Hamra Checkpoint. Instead of telling them to go back, they [the soldiers] took their keys and ID cards, and threatened to call the police... We telephoned for help and Danny and the Liaison and Coordination Administration said they would deal with the matter. We exchanged telephone numbers and left. The checkpoint was almost empty by that time. We left at 13:50. We continued to call every 15 minutes and heard that the car was meticulously checked. They were allowed to cross at 16:00 and at the time of our last phone call at 17:00 they were on their way to Jericho.
Army tents are already visible on the hill where we saw army equipment and soldiers earlier. We can already see the new road beneath the houses on the ridge at the settlement of Maskiot.
We did not drive to Tayasir because we had other commitments. We passed through the Bezek Checkpoint at 14:10.