Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 13.12.11, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
11:30 Tapuach-Za’tara checkpoint
Heavy traffic from the south (Ramallah) and from the north (Nablus) – No car arrived at the checkpoint during the seven minutes we watched. There must be a checkpoint or roadblock somewhere farther along the road on the way to Huwwara.
11:50 Ma’ale Efrayim checkpoint - The checkpoint isn’t manned
We drove to El Auja to see the spring which until ten years ago flowed abundantly and provided water via channels to the town of Auja, the surrounding localities and the Dead Sea (so it won’t dry up, God forbid), 1/3 to each destination. Rusted dams, blocked channels, and the famous water slide are all ruined, because Israel erected three giant pumping stations nearby and another one higher up the hill, and diverted all the water to the settlements. And they even had the nerve to ask us to vote for that miserable, neglected site (the Dead Sea) that’s drying up because of Israel’s failures, so that it will be honored by UNESCO…
This is how the El Auja spring looked in 1998.
Now it’s winter, no heavy rains yet, but even though some rain has already fallen the location is as dry as the sole of the occupier’s shoe. Compare the attached photos. Note: the photo of the dams shows the white pumping station “peeking” above the dam.
13:30 Hamra – No cars. We drove on.
14:00 – Tayasir checkpoint
We’re halfway up the hill to the checkpoint and three soldiers come toward us to chase us away. One of them says he’s the checkpoint commander, flounces toward me puffing out his chest, announcing “Me – I’m the man!!! Remember me?” (cf. the Jordan Valley report, Hamra, a month ago). His arrogance and pride, reminding me of the violent incident he oversaw, indicate that the police did nothing about it.
He yelled at his soldiers to close the checkpoint. Five minutes later a line of seven cars had formed from the east and six from the west. We were forced to withdraw in order not to harm the Palestinians. The journalist tried to explain to the soldiers that harming the Palestinians in order to get rid of us is both illegal and immoral, but his words fell on deaf ears. I called Zaharan, the DCO officer. He didn’t answer.
Palestinians we spoke to said that there have been many delays recently at this checkpoint.
(15.12.11 – Two days after this shift, starting at 14:00 in the afternoon, I received four telephone calls from Palestinians reporting that the soldiers at the Tayasir checkpoint are lounging in the shed, not inspecting, not letting anyone cross, and long lines of cars are waiting. At 16:00, after calls to the DCO and to Zaharan, they began letting people through).
Gochia checkpoint (13:40 and 15:00)
The gate is open; we went in toward Tamun. Some 300 meters east of the gate are rows and rows of tents and soldiers aiming at targets shaped like people, set up between them and a path on which Palestinians travel. We were afraid of being hit by a stray bullet. Isn’t the safety of Palestinians important enough for them to shoot in a different direction? Cars parked next to the tents, the soldiers’ families visiting their children. Is that why the gate is open?
(15.12.11 – Two days after this shift there was a call that the gate hadn’t opened at 15:00 as it was supposed to; Palestinians with wives and children were waiting. The gate opened at 16:10, after calls to the DCO).
16:00 – Ma’ale Efrayim – Manned by three soldiers; three cars waiting to cross slowly from the West Bank to the Jordan Valley.