Hamra, Tayasir, Sun 14.10.07, Afternoon

Observers: 
Daphna B, Noam K, Nava M (reporting)
14/10/2007
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Afternoon

10:30 -16:30

The last day of Eid el Fitr. Thin traffic on the roads, the few who are travelling are dressed festively, Here and there families can be seen picking olives.


10:30 Shavei Shomron Checkpoint

Unusually there is a line of a few cars in the direction from Israel eastwards. The reason – there are many Israeli Arabsinfo-icon going to visit family in the West Bank and the cars are being inspected.


10:40 Zaatra Checkpoint

In the direction of Israel a line of seven cars that has accumulated presumably because of meticulous inspection of bus passengers..
We were happy to see that the entrance to Akraba is open – no vestige of a checkpoint. Our joy was premature: on our way back we see that the checkpoint has been moved and is now on the access road, closer to the village.


11:30 Hamra Checkpoint

15 cars waiting to cross from east to west. The few passengers show IDs and cross as pedestrians to wait beyond the checkpoint. The cars and drivers are checked, and we clocked the wait of one car at 32 minutes (plus two minutes check). The checking time per car, measured for ten cars, averages two minutes. This is the rate as more cars arrive at the end of the line. Thus, when we leave a line of 19 cars remains. An ambulance arrives and does not wait in line but is immediately transferred to the checking station and allowed to travel on after one minute.
The soldiers reservists are aware of the problematics of the place. They are prepared to behave differently from their predecessor conscripts. The Palestinians noted the difference since the change of units.


13:45 Tayasir Checkpoint

As we arrive there is no traffic. A tanker, being checked, is released and drives off, and still no other vehicle is waiting. The commander, a reservist, comes towards us and asks us to remain at a distance, by the road spikes these are the orders he has received. Daphna explains our function, and clarifies to him that the accepted procedure is that we sit on the rocks on the side, where we do not interfere with the work of the soldiers, and from where we have a comfortable view of happenings at the pedestrian checking station. He contends that he understands, but he has his orders. We insisted and he went to phone his company commander.
Meanwhile, vehicles arrived, were checked, and moved on. He returned to say that his commander told him that, as far as he knows, the permissible place for us is by the electric box, somewhere which does not bring us nearer, does not permit listening or ease observation. Daphna insists on our regular place. After a short verbal confrontation, he invites us to his hut (the vehicle checking point). We refuse and insist on our "permanent" place. And then he waves a hand in the direction of our rocks, shrugs, turns and walks back to his post. At 14:05 we sit on the rocks.

The checkpoint is orderly and sophisticated. There is a traffic light, the angle of the spikes can be changed by remote control, there is an x-ray machine. The soldiers call people forward, "tlate, tlate" by threes, instead of "wahad, wahad" one at a time.

A taxi driver who passed tells us that since this unit has arrived the soldiers are better, "bigger" (presumably he means older). They will be here a month and then their predecessors will return [how does he know that?].
A bored soldier approaches us and inquires about what we do, what we think. He is a young reservist who does not have any familiarity with Zionist history or geography. He is convinced that the Rift Valley is an integral part of the State of Israel, and always was. The subject of civil life is quite strange to him.
15:55 on our way home. No line at Hamra Checkpoint.
On the internal road out of Akraba, close to the village, a checkpoint: a jeep and spikes. Four soldiers are checking driver`s documents, but not the passengers. Despite the fast check procedure, there is a growing line already ten cars.

16:20 Zaatra Checkpoint

Long lines, of 20-30 cars both northward (to Nablus) and westward (to Israel).