Gochya, Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim
10:00 Tapuach junction/Za’tara checkpoint
No soldiers at the checkpoint or at the junction toward Ramallah, only on the hill overlooking the junction.
10:15 Ma’ale Efrayim checkpoint
10:30 Hamra checkpoint
A five-vehicle in each direction when we arrived. Two buses from the east, one undergoing an excessive inspection (headed toward Palestinian Authority territory!!) and delaying the others. At the end of the line was a bus filled with girls aged about 16, singing and merry. Apparently an annual school trip. Yes, a school trip can also be a nightmare because of the lengthy delays at the checkpoints. But they didn’t allow the occupation to spoil their mood and were having a good time on the other side of the closed windows. When they saw us that started to wave; we came closer. They opened the upper windows and asked, as usual, who we are, what we’re doing; we yelled our replies and they, wonderfully friendly, continued saying hello.
11:00 Two soldiers approach, forbid photography. They say the checkpoint is a military area and photographing soldiers is prohibited. Danya says she’s not photographing their faces, only from a distance and they can’t be identified, but the soldiers insist. One made the winning point: “If I walk around here naked, will you also take my picture?” Ten minutes after they’d gone back to the checkpoint (we stood far enough away so they couldn’t start the “you’re too close” game: “Either you move back or we’ll shut down the checkpoint”), they returned with an additional soldier who photographed them in heroic attitudes with us in the background. We could only smile at their childish power games.
Gochia gate is closed (for almost a year now). The earthen berms blockingaccess from the Jordan Valley have been raised even higher in many places, cutting it off from the centers of activity on the West Bank.
The area prepared last week for the nature/trance party is once again a military area; three tanks park in a row facing south. The laborers still haven’t finished dismantling the stages from the party. Every Palestinian we spoke to complained that on the night of the party, for 30 hours, the music was so deafening they could neither sleep nor hear one another.
Construction continues apace in the Umm Zuqa nature reserve – huge bulldozers grading broad areas and creating roads for two huge firing ranges at the entrance to a nature reserve, on reserve land.
15:00 On the road into the village of Kotzrin, west of Akraba, five soldiers with drawn weapons stop every vehicle entering or leaving the village, order the driver out, open the doors, and trunk, remove merchandise and sometimes also pat the men down. One of the soldiers objects rudely and aggressively to the fact we’re photographing, and even though other soldiers try to calm him down and move him away from us he returns very hostilely again and again.
15:10 We had to leave because one of our guests had an appointment.