Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah)
11:15 - Za'atara Tapuach Junction Checkpoint - unmanned, but 2 soldiers stand at the rides stop south of the junction, holding up Palestinian vehicles. Inside the blocked carpark in the checkpoint, a Palestinian vehicle is held up, 3 youngsters standing beside it. Across the road, another Palestinian car is being inspected.
11:30 - Maale Efrayim Checkpoint - unmanned
Khalat Makhoul - life goes on. The tents are uyp and the sheep and goats rush to the feeding troughs. Nights are extremely cold ("As cold as death", some women tell me). I'll be glad to receive blankets for them.
Some of the village men are ploughing and sowing wheat around the Al Hadidiya area.
Our friend K. at the junction of Alon Road and the route to Hamam Al Malih, describes how Israel's"most moral army in the world" demolished the home of his brother down in the ravine - on the day the great winter storm broke out - and all of his belongings in this world, mattresses, blankets and house utensils, were swept away in the flooding waters of the ravine. The next day, the Red Cross brought them a new tent.
14:30 - Tyassir Checkpoint - swift crossing today, no delays, but yesterday afternoon people were held up for an hour and a half. A workers' car is ordered to the side of the road, its passengers ordered to disembark and the soldiers made them raise their arms, take off their shirts and be searched.
Hamra Checkpoint - swift crossing. The dog whose presence we reported lately is still at the checkpoint. Seeing us, it came up and joyously rubbed itself against our legs, but since it is a stray local dog that looks threatening, at first I was scared. I am certain that Palestinians, whose Muslim observance sees the dog as an unclean animal, are not exactly delighted to have this experience there. Perhaps it is even less friendly towards them (as we reported last week).
As we arrived, a truck loaded with cooking gas tanks was waiting. The driver is from Jiftlik village, an he transports such tanks to the Jordan Valley every day. He had been waiting there for an hour and a half. One of the soldiers explained the tanks were alright, but included two large containers that were Israeli. We returned to the truck and checked the large containers, not understanding what was so Israeli about them. Not a word in Hebrew was written on them! THe soldiers explained that they were waiting for the police. Another quarter of an hour passed by and the same soldier approached the truck, and told its driver that since he had been waiting a long time, if the police does not arrive in 10-15 minutes, he will be released.
Exactly 15 minutes later the police arrived. Since it was getting dark and my good driver-guest has difficulties driving at night, we were forced to leave. On the phone, the truck driver told us he was made to pay a 750 NIS fine. "That's how it works" he said, in a resigned, heartrending tone.
116:15 - Maale Efrayim Checkpoint - unmanned.
16:40 - Zaatara Tapuach checkpoint- still unmanned, still two soldiers south of the junction.