Hamra, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 18.12.07, Afternoon
Translation: Devorah K.
12.30 Hamra CP
Two cars from the east, four from the west, and about ten pedestrians are waiting for the cars which were being inspected. We did not halt.
13.00 Tyasir CP
13.05 - 13.15 - A shift change, and the operation of the CP is halted because of this. As luck would have it, a great many people arrive at the same time. There are only two cars on the western side. The passage is quick; the pedestrians are not required to come in "one by one" and are not required to raise their shirts either, only the drivers. (How ridiculous and humiliating it is to have to raise the shirt and turn around, when the car is not even being inspected; after all, whatever is not on the body of the 'dancer' may very well be in the car.)
The time for going through: trucks - five minutes; taxi without passengers - one minute; with passengers - about ten minutes, for the passage of the pedestrians. At first, the soldiers tried to keep us at a distance, but the assistant commander of the platoon stood by his promise that we could stand opposite the toilets, near the inspection hut. From there you can see quite well what is going on. The Palestinians say that during the last few days, the passage has been easier and quicker than in the past.
The platoon commander arrives and explains that due to the holiday (which begins tomorrow) the CP will be open until midnight. Afterwards I told this to the taxi drivers and it seemed that they forgot to notify the Palestinians. They of course were very happy, but knew nothing about it before.
A family with six children of various ages arrives. The father goes through with the car and the children, happily jumping and hopping go through on foot with their mother. While they wait for the signal, "Come!", which means they can advance to the turnstiles and after that to the inspection pavilion, the little one, about two years old, jumps ahead. His big sister anxiously runs to bring him back to the line where they are allowed to stand. The children learn early on to obey the arbitrary and illogical instructions of the occupier. (Actually this waiting at a distance is superfluous and is enforced only as a demonstration of power, but often causes a long additional delay. Why can't they wait near the turnstiles and thus can save the time of walking up to them?) At the turnstiles the older daughter (about 12 years old) takes the little ones through one at a time and explains to the frightened children how it operates and how to push so that they will be able to go out on the other side.
14.30 Hamra CP
A long queue of 16 cars is waiting to go west into the West Bank. The people have been waiting for a long time (more than an hour) and are walking around on the road. Nine cars are waiting to go through to the Jordan Valley. The CP commander sends us to stand at the more distant junction, after we came as close as 50 meters from the CP. We refuse and he halts the operation of the CP. Since they were not really trying to let the people go through quickly before that, it does not matter much. The queue grew to about 25 cars (but was later shortened). The commander complains about us to two policemen who are inspecting a car which they claim was stolen; but they refuse to get involved. They too apparently understand that there is no reason to drive us away.
I phone the battalion commander, but he does not answer. In a telephone call to the DCO, he agrees with me that they are not allowed to close down the CP and promises to take care of the matter and also to take care of the crowding. After five minutes, the CP is opened even though we did not go away; a jeep arrives with another two soldiers as reinforcements for the CP. The inspection is carried out in two parallel lanes and by 15.15 the queue is gone. Afterwards, there were no long queues on either side.
Two policemen inspect an old car that is suspected of being stolen, because the number on the licence and the number on the chassis are not the same. Inside the car sit a woman and three tiny children, aged one to four, with astonishing patience, for well over an hour. In the end the car is allowed to drive off, a few minutes before we left.
15.35 - We left.
16.15 - Za'atara CP
A long queue; 25 cars are waiting from the direction of the road that crosses Samaria. There is also a similar queue from the other direction, but on the other side there are two lanes and the inspection is faster.
At the western CP, one rude soldier shouts, does the inspection slowly, and takes long breaks between cars. People get out of the taxis and try to go through on foot, among them a father and three little children -- the eldest about four years old. The soldier refuses to let them through; those are his orders; no matter how arbitrary; and he will not go against them even though it is very very cold. The people explain that because of the long queue, the taxis let them out and drove back and now they are stuck. The explanation does not interest the soldier at all. "Get on any car, otherwise you won't get through," he says in a severe tone. And then he adds that as long as they stand there, he will stop the passage through the CP and nobody will go through. Thus the queue gets longer and longer. But what can you do, and in the meantime all the cars are full and the father and his children cannot get into any of them.
A boy of 16 from Kablan is detained. He arrives with his brother and he does not have an ID. The brother has gone to Kablan which is very near, across the road, to bring his father's ID; the fellow, in a thin sweatshirt with the hood over his head, is standing and trembling with cold; he lights cigarette after cigarette and has been waiting for over an hour.
I phoned Iman who promised to send some more soldiers to ease the pressure. And indeed, two officers (a man and a woman) arrive and talk to the soldier who was supposed to be doing the inspection, and the queue, which began to move slowly after most of the pedestrians managed to push themselves into the overloaded cars, stopped again. The two officers stayed for about ten minutes, did not inspect anybody but talked to the soldier a great deal and kept him from paying attention to what he was doing. I phoned Iman again to complain about this, and then, without any help from additional soldiers, that one soldier began to do the inspection more quickly.
17.00 The brother arrived with the longed-for ID and succeeded in liberating his detained brother; and the queue was now shortened to about eights cars.