Shomron Crossing, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 8.11.11, Afternoon
We decided to drive to an area that Machsom Watch doesn’t often visit. Not all the villages along main roads are accessible from them, either because the turnoffs are blocked, or there’s no road, or because, though there is a road, it’s in such bad shape that people seek alternate routes even though they take longer.
At Shomron crossing, only vehicles going west are inspected.
A checkpoint on the road to Salfit near the entrance to Ariel (from Route 5) is manned by two reservists. Plastic barriers slow traffic toward Salfit. In response to our question about who’s allowed through the checkpoint, one of the soldiers replies, “It’s better not to ask too many questions.” A Palestinian taxi arriving at the checkpoint continues without stopping.
We drove on toward Za’tara. Palestinians harvesting olives can still be seen along the road. We turned onto Highway 60 toward Ramallah and Jerusalem.
A personnel carrier makes a U-turn at the entrance to Turmus-Ai. We drove into the village, and on our return saw three soldiers at the entrance stopping people to inspect their documents. We saw the military vehicle driving north on the dirt road alongside Highway 60.
At the Kokhav Ya’ir junction we turned onto Highway 457 toward Mikhmash, and then onto Highway 458 toward Rimonim. Concrete blocks scattered on the right, signs on them warning of a “firing range,” something we’re familiar with farther north in the Jordan Valley.
There’s a guard tower where the Rimonim checkpoint used to be, opposite the road to Tayibe. We didn’t see any soldiers around (unlike last week).
We passed the settlement of Kokhav HaShachar, and Giv’at Assaf, its outpost, and continued toward Ein Samya. Near it, and east of Highway 458 (the Alon road), are many holdings belonging to residents of Kafr Malik. The road from Kafr Malik to Ein Samya is blocked; residents of the village forbidden to drive on it and forced to go through Tayibe. While we waited at the roadblock, a family arrived from the direction of Highway 458, heading to one of its holdings. One member, who’d returned from an extended stay abroad, recounted the hardships caused by the occupation, limitations on moving around freely, prohibitions against entering Israel and the fact that while they were cultivating their holdings east of the road, settlers living on isolated farms in the area attacked them, so the army blocked physically blocked access to their holdings. The village council is dealing with the issue.
We tried to drive via Mughayr back to Highway 60, but because the road wasn’t paved we decided to have mercy on the car, so we drove up to the Shiloh bloc. Our map showed a road (in poor condition) leading from the Kida outpost to Mughayr, but we couldn’t find any, only a dirt track leading to a plant nursery. After we finished ascending we saw a chain of electrically-operated gates marking entrances/exits of settlements and outposts, and military vehicles also slotted into the landscape. The settlements, their outposts and other extensions seem to be developing and flourishing thanks to that protection, defying, but also ignoring, the surrounding Palestinian villages (a boy we asked how to get to Highway 60 knew exactly where we should turn, and to where, but also knew we “have to go through some Arab village.”).
We returned to Highway 505 -5, and spoke with drivers at the entrance to Zeita-Jama’in. They complain about the police – both Israeli and Palestinian.
Traffic at the Shomron crossing is unimpeded, as before; the inspector asks where we’re from.