Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Tue 6.3.12, Afternoon

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Ravital S., Rochaleh H. (photographing and reporting)

Translator:  Charles K.

11:40  Bezeq checkpoint

We crossed.

The land is green after the rains, flowers of many colors everywhere.  The tanks and soldiers on maneuvers in the open spaces along the roads ensure that the peaceful landscape, the glorious flowers and the grazing flocks don’t mislead us.

Hamra checkpoint12:10

Orange and red flags (combat engineers) fly from the booth on the road.  We haven’t been here in a long time, and here are the results of the backhoe’s work, on which we reported earlier (3.1.12).

There’s an unpaved path for people on foot (with a small sign in three languages) south of the checkpoint.  A water pipe connects to the pipe on the main road.  The path is blocked by concrete blocks.  People crossing on foot to the west don’t use the road, nor do they walk alongside it, nor are they inspected.  People going east must pass through the soldiers.  An open shipping container apparently serves as place to wait and as shelter from rain and sun.

A tall mesh fence has been erected on top of the low concrete barrier along the road.  A vehicle for scanning bags was parked, when we arrived, on the road near where soldiers are stationed at the entrance.  Its conveyor belt was packed up a few minutes later.

One of the people going through suggests we come between 4 and 5 AM, when 500 laborers cross, which takes a long time.  He’s a merchant.  The situation is always bad at this checkpoint; these days aren’t any different.

A man wearing an attractive keffiyeh around his neck says the soldiers commented on it when he crossed.  We agreed with him that it’s not the job of the soldiers to determine what civilians wear on their way to and from their homes.  Some families with children crossed eastward.

Great excitement:  A car with a yellow (Israeli) license plate arrives at the checkpoint.  Four soldiers immediately charged toward it; the driver drove away.

A resident of Farush Beit Dajan wants to bring in two sheep.  He knows that at Hamra they won’t let a pickup truck with sheep through, but it’s longer and expensive to drive via the open crossings.  So he goes to talk to the soldiers, maybe they’ll let him cross.  The commander says that the regulations (even if they’re dumb) prohibit it.  He can transfer them from this pickup to one with a crossing permit.  We saw a pickup with two sheep driving back the way it came.  We assume the sheep reached the man who was waiting for them; we don’t know how.

12:50  It’s quiet.  We left.

13:30  Tayasir checkpoint

Groups of soldiers drinking coffee and/or getting ready along the road leading from the army base to the checkpoint.

Four large off-road vehicles carry soldiers and a great deal of equipment.  The slopes are scarred with vehicle tracks (is that really necessary??).

Tanks and tents in the valley.  A line of jeeps on the road at the Tayasir checkpoint, orange coverings on their roofs, the flags reading “Oz Ef’e (viper) Battalion November 11.”  The flag at the camp also belongs to the same Viper.  “I’m Itamar, the area commander, it’s a sterileinfo-icon location, please don’t photograph or interfere with our activities; I’m a reservist.”  So he said, and left.  And then reservist Shlomo Tsabari arrived (he asked us to write down his name).  He’s worried we’ll inform the terrorist saboteurs where there are gaps in the fence, exposing the nation to attack.  So get outta here.  He wants Itamar, the commander, to bring us to the Shin Bet, or at least confiscate our ID cards.  Commander Itamar tries to calm him down.  Shlomo Tsabari insists, photographs us, so if anything should happen they’ll know who’s responsible.

13:40  The van crossed with the schoolchildren.

There’s hardly any traffic.

13:50  We left.

14:15  Bezeq checkpoint

Who are you?  He turns to his colleague:  “Watch” ladies?  What should we do with them?  They didn’t open the gate.  Did he want to frighten us?  Was he kidding around?  It’s not clear!  Finally – we crossed.