13:50 Bezeq checkpoint
We went through.
The access road to the Rotem settlement has been completed. A sign announces a festival at the settlement.
The air is clean, the hills are green, the sheep and shepherds enjoy the fresh grass, and the still-unspoiled landscape is astonishingly beautiful.
Soldiers with large carryalls wait at the access road to the Tevets base (opposite Hamam el Malih).
14:10 Tayasir checkpoint
Four cars in line to the west and three to the east. The same number of cars remained during our entire shift because of the heavy traffic and the diligence of the soldiers in inspecting the trunks of the cars.
Many military vehicles crossed west to Area A, where Israelis are forbidden to go (according to what’s written on the red signs at the entry to the checkpoint) – large black pickup trucks, jeeps with officers. A truck belonging to the S.H.B. Company (who profits from the occupation?) outfitted for tourists, carried sleeping soldiers.
A black car, pretty banged up, aroused great enthusiasm. The lieutenant was called, who made a call, apparently to get instructions regarding what to do with it. He gave the license plate number and the ID number of the Palestinian driver. According to what he heard on the phone, he was told to take the keys from the driver and he then gave them, with a satisfied smile, to the soldiers in the position in the middle of the road. Now the driver’s phone is being inspected, and he’s questioned in Arabic and Hebrew and the car is carefully searched within and without. Three armed soldiers enter it, shake the upholstery and keep asking the driver, whence, whither, why… The driver appears pretty unhappy because they are all over him and his car. The lieutenant offers him water.
In response to our question we were told “we received instructions from the battalion” to detain this vehicle (or, perhaps, a vehicle like this one?).
A Red Cross jeep crossed eastward, returned to the checkpoint ten minutes later, stopped at the deserted army base and the driver asked us about our activities.
15:00 After a delay of about an hour the suspicious vehicle was released. The Chabad bus also departed quietly.
15:10 We left.
We had the feeling that we were watching a surreal movie: a lieutenant who doesn’t know what to do with his detainee. “Our brave lads” stand beside a battered car belonging to an unfortunate young Palestinian man, whose keys had been confiscated along with his phone and his documents. A pink bus in the background, loudly playing “The Messiah, The King” in Yiddish and Hebrew, and little children running around beside it. along with the man from the Comité International Genève watching the scene from above. (Fellini would have died of envy at this scene.)
Alon Road – Highway 578
The earthen berm erected by the occupation is still in place. Flocks of sheep everywhere. Beqa’ot’s huge vineyard east of the greenhouses is being covered with plastic. White smoke rises at a number of spots.
Sparse traffic. People cross without delays. A car which approached “on its own initiative” was sent back and then permitted to go through.
A backhoe is working beyond the position at the junction (it doesn’t seem to be occupied). The work shoring up the roadside is approaching the junction. The soldier explained that it’s intended to prevent mud flowing onto the junction. A pensive soldier wonders about us. He says he has lost a close friend in the recent Gaza war, “Tzuk Eitan.” He didn’t seem enthusiastic about the need for wars.
16:00 We left.
We waited in line. Car trunks and IDs of those in front of us were checked. They released us after inspecting the trunk.