Observers: 
Dafna Banai and Amos Gvirtz
Feb-20-2014
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Morning
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Photographs

*Um Zuka reserve turns into a big shooting range.

*Ein El Hilwa - after IDF ruined the houses of the inhabitants who had left the place

*the children in Basharat are doing homework

 

11:15 - Za'atra checkpoint/Tapu'ach intersection -

One Palestinian car in the checkpoint parking lot; the gate, which is usually closed, is open now. A woman soldier/military dog keeper is about to bring a sniffing dog into the car; the two passangers stand aside, agitated. A dog is an unclean animal according to Islam, and bringing it into a car is offensive to many religious Muslims, and harms the comfort and the secure feeling a person has in his car. The checkpoint itself is manned, and they have just stopped another Palestinian car and sent it aside (maybe to have it inspected by the dogs?). In the Bus-stop south of the intersection there are two soldiers. (They are there to stop Palestinian cars coming from that direction, and to direct them to the checking.) They don't stop cars at this stage.

 

11:30 - Ma'ale Ephraim checkpoint

The place is not manned with soldiers. Not now and not on our way back at 17:00

 

12:00 - Hamra checkpoint

Deserted, no Palestian cars passing. There are only bored soldiers.

 

Um Zuka reserve

After last spring half of the nature reserve, including its flora and fauna, was deliberately burned. Now they are doing some work at the eastern entrance - huge bulldozers had dug a hole and straightened the area. It does not seem that those works are for the benefit of the reserve or of  the hikers. A car carrying some army officers stops near us, and they offer us bananas. When we ask what happens here they tell us that they prepare the place for a huge shooting range. In a nature reserve?

 

 

Geological digs between Maskiyot and Hemdat settlements

The secret activity we reported from this area (The report from 10.2.14) has disappeared. The place is clean, and it is obvious that they have made an effort not to leave marks behind, but on the hill there is a small but very deep dig, showing purple and yellow bands, which show that there was some geological interest here. Did they look for minerals or any other resources which may be dug and taken away from the occupied area, as is being done in the quarries of "Kokhav Hashakhar", for example.

 

Ein-El-Hilwa

The whole central area of the village, which has been entirely destroyed on 30.1.14, and which the report on 10.2.14 was discussing- about the elderly people and the children of the village - is now completely empty. There are only remains, and empty water containers, and a lot of plastic sheets flying in the wind. We asked children who were returning from school and were walking towards their tent emcampment about it, and they answered that some of the inhabitants had built a tent emcampment near the children's houses, and others had left the place and moved to Yarze, near Tyasir checkpoint.

But, the children emphasized, the bulldozers came there too and destroyed their houses. Later on we got another confirmation of that fact: in Yarza four families were evicted from their home becase of a military exercise on 30.1.14. They returned a day later, and now their houses have been destroyed.

 

14:00 - Tyasir checkpoint -

There are three soldiers at the checkpoint, unjustified minor delays, up to 5 minutes. The soldiers are standing and talking among themselves, and arriving cars must wait until they make themselves available to the passengers. Their time is not imortant. Some of the passengers who had waited to go through told us that on other days they wait sometimes for half an hour, up to an hour. Others said that lately "the checkpoint is ok". It seems to depend on the soldiers who man the place, since in such a remote place everything is arbitrary and up to the whims of the soldiers manning the place.