Hamra, Tayasir, Sat 13.10.07, Morning
Nina M, Chava H (reporting)
Eid el Fitr the festival the main part of which is family visits. At 08:00 small groups standing, among them many women with masses of children who have already passed the turnstiles and are waiting. It transpires that today, in honour of the festival, there is no need for permits all can pass, but cars do need permits. So a situation evolves in which all the cars arriving at the checkpoint are full of passengers; the cars spew forth passengers who pass quickly through the turnstiles and wait on the other side, while the cars wait in a (not long) line for permit check. Unnecessary to mention, nevertheless all the transients are from one Palestinian community and going to another, mostly from Nablus area villages to Jiftlik or Jericho. It is beginning to be hot, but most transients are smiling and saying that they are "okay." We move on to Tayasir.
At Tayasir the same procedure. People pass without permits, and almost without inspection. Cars need passes. No complaints, no wild behaviour of the soldiers. We almost thought that it is a pity to waste time, and we went back through Hamra. Here we descend "just to see what is happening" and there are issues. A man surrounded by a troupe of children is arguing with a group of soldiers. He explains, tries again and again. He is travelling to Jiftlik to visit three sisters. Together with him are two of his brothers in law and seven children aged three to ten. Since the sisters live at a fair distance from each other, he took a taxi from his village to take him and his in laws from one sister to another, and will return them home at the end of the daybut the taxi does not have a permit. The soldiers so nice are very empathetic. They are sorry about his problems, moderate their language, bring cold water for the children, call them by name, but there is no way they will let the taxi pass without permit. And here, with the soldiers, stands someone very familiar, in a helmet, bristles and gun, and with that same expression of "oh, what a pity!" and who is it but Yariv Openheimer, director of Peace Now and he, with helmet, bristles and weapon, is terribly sorry...
The soldiers suggest that the small group should take another taxi, and even volunteer to stop an empty taxi for them but there aren`t any. Every taxi passing through has people waiting -0- passengers who have paid the driver for the whole trip to final destination. Lots of good faith is here (we could describe how happy a taxi driver would be if soldiers stop him and order him on who he should take) but the willingness to use judgment and independent decision that no, because truly "there is nothing to be done." Our words about people travelling within Palestinian territory, from one Palestinian village to another, and today is a holiday, the children are small, it`s terribly hot “ all fall on the ears of soldiers who are "obeying orders" and "we didn`t decide on the location of the checkpoint."
Meanwhile, we tell Yariv Openheimer a little of our opinion about him and his actions and he, how surprising, hastens to pour into our ears the original contention: "Better to refuse? Preferable that I should be here and will improve the situation at the checkpoint." The rest of the conversation would not be acceptable to our members, so we stop here. Interesting to contemplate what the Palestinians would make of it. Peace Now really improves the situation?!
We phone the Humanitarian Centre, the DCO Jericho â€“ but nothing helps. The taxi without permit cannot pass and the small band of children sets out on foot from the area of the checkpoint in the hope of catching some vehicle or vehicles. For them, whether they get to Jiftlik or not, it will already not be a festive holiday.