Hamra (Beqaot), Za'tara (Tapuah)
7:45 Tapuach Checkpoint at Zaatara checkpoint – we see a long line of cars crawling along the road coming from the north. Soldiers are inspecting the first car in line as all the others wait. We don’t know how long the car had been inspected, but as we got to the checkpoint itself, this car was released and hundreds of vehicles swarmed on, southbound headed for the Ramallah area, without any inspection. The soldiers simply left the checkpoint and walked away towards the roundabout in the middle of the junction (suddenly no security measure are required for the delay of hundreds of Palestinians?)
On our way the soldiers stopped to ask us who we were, and what we were doing there. We asked one of the drivers for a time estimate and he reported waiting for half an hour.
At the Nablus-bound hitchhikers station we see an army jeep and five soldiers doing nothing.
At the southern hitchhikers station no soldiers are seen.
We wanted to cross the former parking lot to reach our car, parked on road no. 5, and one of the soldiers leapt and forbade us to cross, claiming “closed military zone”, without any written signed order. So I continued and ignored him.
8:45 Gitit Checkpoint ( Maale Efrayim) – no soldiers seen on the ground.
9:15 Hamra Checkpoint – no cars seen, one soldier in the booth awaits “clientele”.
A Habad (Hassidim) van with loudspeakers plays ear-splitting Messiah music for all the Palestinian encampments along the road to Tyassir, then turns towards the army base across the road from Al Malih. The soldiers at the gate makes a call (to his CO, presumably), and gets his okay to let the van in with its joyous Hassidic messages for the soldiers of God’s army… If their secular parents knew that this is what the army has them preached to? One can assume that the same blind eye that these parents turn to the soldiers’ oppressive, offensive and immoral role here is at work.
11:45 Tyassir Checkpoint is unmanned.
12:00 Akaba – children come out of their elementary school. They’re hopping around us joyously practicing the phrases they learned in their English class: “What’s your name?” The English teacher, a young friendly fellow comes to us and he, too, practices his English with us. Everyone was glad to meet Israelis.
Ein Al Hilwa– still no answer about the tractor carrying the water tanker that was confiscated ten days ago. The owner refuses to receive it through the court, claiming that no Israeli court of law would do him justice.
We also paid visits to Makhoul, Al Hadidiya and with Bisan and her family. (see photos)
14:15 Hamra Checkpoint – 15 cars lined up traveling from east to west, and another few in the opposite direction as we arrived. The drivers speak of a half-hour wait. It is very hot, and most of the cars are old vans whose open windows show they have no air-conditioners (“So what?” replies the soldier. “We don’t have air-conditioning either”). Ar army jeep stops next to us on our way to the checkpoint, the soldiers ask us who we are, tell us to leave the checkpoint, and continue on their way. And we continue towards the checkpoint.
The soldiers at the checkpoint say they’re just changing shifts. To our question why one lane is closed when so many Palestinian vehicles are waiting, they have two replies:
1) A woman soldier: “What? Let them cross in both lanes?? Doesn’t make sense!” The same sense that stuck a checkpoint in the heart of Palestinian life does not find it sensible that a 2-lane road should serve both directions at once!
2) An officer: “This is not enough traffic to justify opening the second lane”. 15 cars and half an hour waiting is not enough traffic?!
Tapuach junction– there must have been a serious delay of cars southbound from Nablus, because when we got there 5 soldiers stood at the checkpoint but did not inspect cars, yet dozens of cars streamed from the checkpoint towards the roundabout as if some dam had burst.