Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 16.5.13, Afternoon
12:00 Tapuach checkpoint – unmanned but many uniforms seen in the car park next to the checkpoint itself.
12:20 Ma’ale Efrayim Checkpoint – unmanned. Nor was it manned at 17:00 on our way back.
13:30 – Bekaot (Hamra) Checkpoint – a long waiting line of 12 vehicles on the east side of the checkpoint, found for the West Bank hills. A soldier approaches us and asks “Who are you?” I answer politely and ask him about the checkpoint – and he turns his back and leaves. Totally ignoring my question. We sometimes encounter such crassness in soldiers, result no doubt of habits acquired during their army service – when one treats other humans as inferior creatures on a daily basis, this sense is entrenched in one’s consciousness.
However, nearly immediately the soldiers begin to allow the cars through and within minutes the line disappears. IDs are inspected in both directions, but passengers stay in the vehicles for the crossing, and the pedestrian crossing remains empty.
14:10 – Tyassir – slow passage, careful inspections in both directions, but the passengers remain inside the vehicles. Again, a soldier is sent to inquire who we are. About 20 minutes later an army jeep stops across the road from us. The driver comes over to chat. He is a Druze from Usfiya. Tells us about the repeated evacuations of Palestinians from their encampments in the area for the sake of army maneuvers. Says it’s a shocking sight. Just like the house demolitions taking place in the Jordan Valley. The sight of people remaining without a roof over their heads in the harsh weather conditions of this region. He is deeply moved, he said. Blames the Civil Administration that only wants to hurt and remove Palestinians. The soldiers are good, he says, it’s all the Administration’s fault. Well…
At the checkpoint, too, the soldiers are good now. They are there for 3 months. The ones before them made trouble, but the unit that mans the checkpoint at present is okay. Thus the soldier-driver. And he returned to his mates who waited for him in the jeep.
We paid a visit to our friend A. His children were scurrying among the sheep pens playing hide and seek and catch, laughing and making the kind joyful sounds that have long disappeared from the streets of my own neighborhood. The girls reluctantly went to milk the sheep and goats, and the parents sat with us along with a neighbor who dropped in. We are told that the water tanker that used to supply him and his neighbors with water - because Israel has blocked all their wells and does not allow them to pump any – was impounded at Hamra Checkpoint 2 days ago because it weighed half-a-ton more than the 15 ton allowance. How the soldiers at the checkpoint established the half-ton overweight is not clear. I have never seen a truck-scale at the checkpoint nor witnessed the weighing of trucks at the site. Police was summoned, the driver paid a 1700 NIS fine, and still the tanker is being held. In the meantime dozens of families are thirsting for water. Women, children, the elderly, the ill, all without water. And the weather is already heating up…