Hamra, Tayasir, Thu 1.11.07, Morning
10 a.m. – 4:30p.m.
We went on a vigil-tour with Daphne, highly knowledgeable about this area and the special nature of its blocking apparatus.
We took road 5 east bound. Stopped at the newly blocked entry to Zeita village (fresh concrete cubes in addition to the usual metal gate), exchanged words with the drivers there who told us about the added blockages in other villages in the area, which have already been reported on this list.
At Tapuach-Zaa'tara Junction Checkpoint – about 15 cars coming from the west waiting to be checked, over 15 coming from Nablus, waiting.
All the checkpoints we visited on our journey were manned by reservists, who as usual are less openly hostile and rude than the regulars we usually meet, but they still stick to the letter of 'law' and to each arbitrary instruction religiously.
On our way to road 90 we happen upon "Checkpoint Shelach". The soldier up on the observation tower shrieks at us "Get out of here!" before we even manage to close the car doors. The Checkpoint commander smiles when asked for the name of this particular checkpoint and quickly answers "Shelach" but immediately has second thoughts about speaking to us and won't even answer whether this is the turnoff to road 90… Cars stop for a check – on the gravel to the side of the road, which does not necessarily prevent the risk of collision on this narrow asphalt track because the waiting line grows longer and the gravel strip is short.
Checkpoint Hamra-Beqaot: We arrived shortly after 1 p.m. A boy is detained in a tiny cement cubicle in the middle of the cp compound. Family members await him at the edge of the compound, and tell us he's been in there for an hour now. The soldiers – reservists who answer us cordially, say that "the GSS talked with him for 40 minutes so he must have done something". Why didn't the GSS pick him up and take him away after their talk? No answer at the ready. They are waiting to receive instructions. He is released at 1:40 p.m.
A police car arrives and delivers a shackled elderly man. His shackles are taken off, Daphne is ordered to keep her distance but remains within hearing distance. The man seems to complain that upon receiving his documents, there was money missing. A soldier asks: "How much money? Two notes of 20?" The man: "What about the 50 shekel note?" One of the men in the police car, in civilian dress and armed with a rifle, tries to drive Daphne 20 meters further out. The policemen talk him out of it.
Then the man is shackled again, blindfolded this time, and Border Patrol men take him away.
Checkpoint Tyassir: manned by fresh reservists. No waiting line westbound, and cars or buses that arrive are quickly dealt with. A line of about 10 cars snails it way eastward. Waiting time: an hour and a half. The first car in line is processed within 2-3 minutes, but its passengers have to wait in the pedestrian shed until called for individual checks, and much time passes in between checks. Daphne calls the hotline.
The soldiers are very busy discussing our presence. Their commander (a friendly major) approaches us twice, asking us patiently to understand that they're new here and it takes time and the guys are stressed out with our monitoring them (from the usual agreed-upon distance).
A taxi containing 8 passengers, again the same picture, harsh version: two women accompanying an apparently blind 8-year old girl, scared out of her wits. Cannot find her way around the turnstile, has to be in there alone, cannot deal with the metal-detector, nearly collapsing with fright. She is addressed patiently in Hebrew by the soldiers, but not spared the trial. Army is army.
On our way back we see a very long line westbound, waiting over an hour. Daphne calls the hotline once again, who promise to look into it…
Checkpoint Maale Efraim: as in most checkpoints nearly exclusively for Israeli cars, our accent is recognized, license plates kosher, and we're cheerily waved through.
Against the magnificent barren hills and steep sloes into the valley, the empty roads, the fields on the bottom, the entire journey etches itself as a surreal experience in the fullest sense of the word (pardon the cliché).
So far our CP report.