Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 19.8.13, Afternoon
Translation: Bracha B.A.
Various elements use the checkpoints to promote their own objectives other than the ones for which they were established in the first place. This is certainly no reason to justify their existence.
The police use them to apprehend drivers who have committed technical violations and to punish or fine them before they go to court.
The Security Forces use the checkpoints and the military forces stationed there to stop any vehicle for as long as they wish, to mobilize collaborators. The IDF's dog trainers use the checkpoints to stop vehicles and delay their passengers to practice working with their dogs.
Za'atra Checkpoint, Tapuach Junction – 08:40-09:20
Two Palestinian cars are being held in the fenced in area. Seven passengers have been forced to stand aside while soldiers hold their ID cards. While they are waiting female soldiers search the vehicles with their dogs. The dogs climb onto the seats of the car. Each car is checked by at least three dogs with two soldiers handling each dog. Each car was held for inspection for at least 15 minutes and when one check was completed another vehicle took its place. A soldier was standing on the road in the direction of Hawara, directing the cars to be checked.
It appears that all this is being done as a practice exercise. We have never seen three dogs working at any checkpoint all at once. A lot of people were held up on their way to work this morning. Can anyone imagine Jewish civilians being held up for the purpose of serving as human subjects for training dogs?
It is important to note that in Arab culture dogs are considered unclean animals and drivers will be forced to clean their cars thoroughly before they may use them again.
09:20 – Maaleh Ephraim Checkpoint
The checkpoint was not manned on the way there or on the way back.
The Fields near the settlement of Gittit
New areas are being cultivated near the fields and to the west of the Alon Road. Have these fields also been rented out by the settlement to various people?
Many Palestinian laborers are picking peppers and eggplants in the far fields by the pumping station. These fields have been rented by the settlement of Gittit to a Palestinian who lives in Israel. An article by Amira Hass in Haaretz described how Palestinians who have no land or water allotments, as the settlers do, are able to obtain land with water for cultivation by means of such bargains. Often these fields are confiscated from Palestinians in the first place and the settlements are thus able to profit from land confiscation without making any effort.
A large truck loaded with sacks of potatoes has been held up at the checkpoint by a police action for more than two hours. The reason for the delay is that the driver has a license for vehicles up to 15 tons and the weight of the truck exceeds that. They are waiting for the police to bring a Jewish driver who is licensed to drive the truck. They will drive to a refrigeration facility where the potatoes will be unloaded and from there to a vehicle pound near Jericho, where the truck will be impounded for a month. The driver will also be fined and required to pay the cost of the impoundment. There will then be a trial. All this because of an invalid license.
There are also boxes of fresh cucumbers next to the checkpoint. Here, too, the problem is an invalid license. The boxes were removed from the truck and the driver has already been waiting for an hour and would have to continue to wait until the police finish dealing with the potato truck. Their truck will then be impounded as well. Another truck will have to be found to take the cucumbers to the market in the north of the Jordan valley before the intense 100-degree heat spoils the vegetables. Meanwhile two young laborers are guarding the cucumbers.
One of them, a resident of Tamun, was injured six months ago by a bullet fired by the IDF during an action in his village. He happened to be passing by in the street and was hit. He was treated in a Palestinian hospital and the P.A. paid for his care. He even knows the name of the soldier who fired the bullet (Mike). He still suffers from a disability from the injury. Needless to say the Israeli authorities have done nothing about it.
This gate, a steel arm, is part of a roadblock consisting of a ditch several meters deep, with a dike next to it. The roadblock extends for several kilometers along the Alon Road, from the fields west of the road to those east of it. Palestinians who want to cultivate fields on the other side of the roadblock cannot cross with tractors or vehicles. The roadblock also serves as a crossing to the city of Tamun, which is the only local urban center for residents of the area. The gate has already been locked for close to a year and residents have given up hope that it will be opened. According to the army's instructions the gate is supposed to be open mornings and evenings three times a week. When we arrived and found the gate locked we also gave up. We heard all kinds of stories at the Civilian Authority in Jericho, but they were evidently lies and we gave up.
The Settlement of Ro'i
The green fields of the settlement of Roi, which have been expanded recently, stand out against the brown surroundings of the valley. The fields are on both sides of the Alon Road and more vineyards and citrus groves have been planted.
12:10 – Tayasir Checkpoint
We usually find the checkpoint empty at this hour, and we were therefore surprised to find a line of cars waiting, attempting to cross from east to west. Drivers complained they had been there for a half hour or more and evidently the checkpoint had been closed. A few minutes after we got there the checkpoint opened and the line disappeared.
We saw three cars being held up near the watchtower and five men standing there with a soldier guarding them. There were also two army jeeps parked nearby. The rest of the passengers waited in the car. One of the soldiers spoke with them. Occasionally one of the men was taken into the watchtower after being meticulously frisked and searched for ten minutes or so. The men entered the tower one after the other. After about 50 minutes all the men completed this procedure. The soldier at the vehicle checkpoint asked the guard whether he should send him more people and the guard answered "no", but soon they began to stop more cars and send passengers to the watchtower. As we imagined we were told that this exercise was a search being conducted by the General Security Services to mobilize collaborators. Everyone being interviewed as well as the other passengers had to wait close to an hour in the 100-detree heat.
This is not the first time we have witnessed this procedure, which takes advantage of the fact that Palestinians have to stop at checkpoints and the soldiers can stop and interrogate anyone they please.
With the D. Family
About a year ago, A. from Azur Al Malakh had his herd of 60 cows confiscated, under the pretext that he had been grazing them in a military firing zone. It should be noted that the entire area of the West Bank is designated as a firing zone. He was fined NIS 15,000 for the quarantine of his cows as well as NIS 1,500 for crossing the road with his herd. He was arrested two weeks ago for not appearing in court for the trial and has now been given a new trial date. We are familiar with many similar harassments of Bedouin in the Jordan Valley under various pretexts, which are totally unjustified and illogical. The idea is to make their lives bitter and difficult and to impose high fines on them until they leave. This is the poorest population in the valley who are barely able to make a living for themselves.
Tapuach Junction – Zaatra Checkpoint, 15:00
A Palestinian car is being held up near the fenced-in area and five Palestinian men are standing next to it. Two Border Patrol soldiers are guarding them. The entire contents of the car and trunk are outside. I don't know how long they were delayed before we arrived here. After 15 minutes the car was released and four men left, while a young man who was with them was detained. The passengers said that the young man was a hitchhiker whm they didn't know. He was arrested because he had no ID card, claiming he had left it at home, and later he called his father, who lives in Jenin, and the father read his ID number to the guards. Evidently the details on his ID did not match the number and it was unclear whether he was 21 or 22 years old. We were unable to ascertain how the matter was settled.
Route 5 In front of the Shomron Crossing
Groups of Palestinians walks along the road leading to the Occupied Territories. We wondered if these people were removed from an Israeli bus to avoid having Palestinians and Jews travel together, but were unable to clarify whether this was true.