Hamra, Tayasir, Thu 6.12.07, Afternoon
Dorit H. and Daphna B. (recording
11:30 - Road #5 near Akraba
Five soldiers with guns drawn stop a taxi. We halt in front of them and by the time we get organized they free the taxi. (We still have a bad feeling about what might have happened if we hadn't stopped.) There is no point to our waiting there, but we have a feeling that the soldiers are looking for prey.
There is a queue of 8 cars waiting to go through from the Jordan Valley to the West Bank and another two vehicles from the north. The drivers say that they have been waiting for more than half an hour. The drivers and the passengers are walking around outside the vehicles - a sign of the long wait. From afar we see that the soldiers at the CP are letting people through slowly and only from the West Bank to the Valley. We walked up to them and immediately they started to let people through in all the directions. (Among themselves, the soldiers at the CP and the guard in the watchtower talk in English. Has the American army taken over the Jordan Valley?)
We left after a quarter of an hour, when all the cars had gone through. But in the few moments that it took us to get to our car, two cars were stopped and it looked as if the inspection was again going on very slowly.
13:15 - Tyasir
When we got there, the CP was at a standstill - this was a changing of the shifts. Within five minutes the CP began to work again. Those going through say that today the CP is "good" and the passage is quick. And indeed throughout the time that we were there, there were no delays, except for a Transit that was not listed in the driver's name. It was inspected meticulously - cases of tomatoes were taken off one after another - for 25 minutes. And then he was allowed to go through. During all that time, vehicles went through in the second lane; the inspection of the Transit did not cause them any delay.
The soldiers are courteous toward the Palestinians but the CP commander banishes us, claiming that there is a 'hot' warning, and there is evidence, all of them are wearing helmets. Here and there one does feel the tension in the CP and we decide to stand at some distance, but in a place where it is possible to see what is going on. One of the sad sights is that of dozens of tiny children in school uniforms who go through the CP every day, on foot, on the way to school in Tyasir (several kilometers west of the CP) to Hamaam el Maliach (about five kilometers east of the CP). The long walk takes about two hours. In every kind of weather. In the morning there is transportation. But they cannot afford transportation in both directions and they come back on foot, through the turnstiles and the route of "go to the back" facing rifles at the ready. These are children from the age of six, girls with lace ribbons - do the soldiers grasp the horror of the situation?
14:30 - Hamra
Ten vehicles are waiting to go through from the West Bank (westward). and twelve in the other direction. Again, the laborers, after a day's work that began at 3 in the morning, tired and hungry, are walking around near the vehicles. The inspection is very slow and usually they only allow people to go through from the west (the West Bank) to the east (the Jordan Valley). The passengers crowd together at the crossroads, waiting for the cars on the other side of the CP. Those who get to the CP are sent back from time to time, so that they will come up to the CP "one at a time", the same at the turnstiles. Everything must be in good order!
We stand at the end of the route that was originally for pedestrians coming from the east, and which is not in use now (pedestrians from the east are inspected in the middle of the road and go around the CP); about 25 meters from the soldiers, in a place where we can see and also hear a little. The commander Shaul immediately runs up to us and asks if we do not know the law. "What is the law?" we ask. "You must stand 150 meters from the CP." We said that we do not know any law of that kind. He halts the operations of the CP and does not let anybody through, but claims that he has not closed the CP, but is busy with us and that is why the CP cannot operate.
I call the brigade commander who confirms that "we are allowed to be there" and says that he will take care of it. After a few minutes the commander arrives, surprised, and he says, "This is the first time that I have heard that you are allowed to be in the CP." He asks how long we will stay here because "I feel like putting you down!" He says this a minute after he told us that he does not have enough inspection personnel and that is why people have to wait so long.
A few cars go through and then a Transit arrives with a group from Habad (ultra-orthodox mystics), towing a giant Hanukka candelabra. They are singing, halt in the middle of the CP, offer us doughnuts over and over again, but of course they do not for a minute think of offering doughnuts to the country's residents - the Palestinians.
And in the middle of all this merriment and song - the CP closes. The exhausted Palestinians wait quietly wondering (we will send photos separately). After the Habad people leave, the passage is faster and when there were only a few people waiting, we left.
15:35 - Maaleh Efraim
Three cars are waiting - a rare event. But when we stop, the passage speeds up and in five minutes, the cars are on their way. A soldier came up to us and demanded that we not stay at the CP.