Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah)
A hot day in the middle of Ramadan
10.10 Ma’aleh Efraim Checkpoint
The checkpoint is manned and Palestinian cars are being inspected, after a long period of inactivity.
The checkpoint, which is situated at the Southern entrance to the Jordan Valley, has come to life. 2- 3 soldiers are standing with their weapons drawn at the side of the entrance and they detain Palestinian cars for about half a minute, only to ask a question without examining I.D.’s. However, most of the cars have Israeli number plates
10.50 Hamra Checkpoint
Only one lane is open for cars to pass (for several months already), which causes long queues during rush-hours. According to the soldiers’ explanations this is due to a manpower shortage. It’s worth remembering that that the checkpoint are not to serve the Palestinians, but they are the only ones who pay the price : to wait in the severe heat, mostly in cars without air-conditioners.
At this hour (and also when we returned at 15.00) the traffic is sparse and there are no queues. The Northern lane is blocked at both ends with plastic barriers (called “New-Jersey barriers”) and it seems that there is no intention to open it soon. Two reserve soldiers, one of them a captain, come towards us. They are very pleasant.
We see an army jeep coming out of the fields of Farush Beit Djan returning again towards the fields of the village which are located West of the checkpoint. It stops for a little while next to a tent, continues on a dirt track, and drives onto the Alon highway (road 578) at the place from which we observe the checkpoint. The soldiers don’t approach us but leave the area.
13.30 Tayasir Checkpoint
The checkpoint is randomly opened and closed; today, pleasantly enough, it is open. There are soldiers in the watch-tower but they don’t interfere and the traffic flows. A bus with Israeli number-plates passes through the checkpoint in the direction of Zone A without any delay. Those who live in the area tell us that sometimes the soldiers do inspect cars, and according to them this holds-up the crossing for one or two hours, usually during the morning and afternoon rush-hours.
15.50 Za’tara (Tapuach) cross-roads.
There are signs of a state of emergency : two jeeps of the border-police (who are responsible for the activity at the cross-roads) are parked at the round-about which is at the cross-roads of the four roads. Soldiers enter and leave all the time. Two ambulances are parked in the fenced area with drivers in their seats.
Apart from that there is no unusual activity. Apparently something happened, or is about to happen in the area.