Morning

10/02/2003
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As we drove towards the machsom we noticed that there were far fewer people around arabsinfo-icon around than usual. Upon our approach, we saw a group of Border Police, larger than usual, maybe 6 or 7 not far from the first gas station. They seemed to be looking for something in the valley below.Just before we reached the wall we saw a group of young Arab men running towards Jerusalem. When we asked some of the transit drivers if anything specific had caused the men to run, no one had any particular answer. Perhaps it was only to take advantage of the fact that there was no military was at the wall. There was free passage for all, although everyone still had to climb through the curved crevice in the wall that is still the only passage. Once out of the car we saw 4 men at the gas station (near the wall). They told us the soldiers in the jeep had taken their ID's and had left. One man also said that he was beaten. The men looked scared and worried. There were no soldiers around, and they did not know where thier ID's were.We returned to the soldiers up the road who denied beating any one, and the one in charge said the ID's were being checked. They were returned after a second intervention by us, 90 min. later. In the meantime, we chatted with the lead soldier who asked if we got paid (!) for our work with Machsomwatch. He also said that he believed that it only helps the Israeli position to treat the Arabs with respect, and that perhaps he would like to join our organization!!! He and it seemed, the other soldiers there (4 of them) are finished with their initial 3 years duty and have stayed on longer. Their conduct while we were there was very respectful and patient. The leader seemed to have a friendly relationship with some of villagers.