12:04 Maale Ephraim
Drowsy soldiers leaning on rifles at an empty checkpoint.
12:23 – on one of the concrete blocks by the roadside is a graffiti of a Magen David and scrawled “Kach.”
By the road, not far from Kfir Brigade base, a bus is parked. Below the hill, at a distance, we can see masses of soldiers and smoke. It seems to be an army exercise. We pick up a friend on the way to Tayasir checkpoint. He indicates the area close to the checkpoint and says this was where he grew up. He points to one of the caves and remembers that his mother had given birth to his sister there, and the neighbors had come to assist. The whole area – 60 dunam (15 acres) –belongs to his family, with registration in the Land Registry, but the army confiscated and turned it into a military area. I would have built my home here, look how beautiful it is, he says. His mother still remembers their house in Haifa. Last week there was a hearing in court of a guard from Tomer who shot his cousin three years ago because of “suspicious behaviour.” Meanwhile, the guard has been promoted.
13:10 Tayasir Checkpoint
The soldier sings Jewish songs to himself as he thoroughly inspects a Palestinian vehicle. By banging on the bodywork, he orders the driver to open the trunk and engine compartment, to take apart the rear seats and glove compartment, the sacks and bags. The driver tries to lay the sacks carefully but quickly on the ground. The contents spill out. “Dou know this song,” the soldier asks in friendly fashion…
Passengers descend from cars and the drivers are held by th
e soldiers ten metres away from the vehicle. The soldiers use
a loudspeaker to
say “Irfa al bluze
,” and all the men and children raise their shirts and pirouette – including the seven- and eight year olds
The soldiers poke into their school satchels.
“Pick it up,” a soldier orders a driver when a piece of paper falls by the car.
“Yalla! Go! Go!” he says as the inspection ends.
“Sierra, Sierra, tal’hon,” he calls the next car over the loudspeaker.
14:28 – many soldiers striding along the path past the destroyed hamam. After they pass, a resident of the Bedouin camp chases after her sheep which dispersed because of the uproar. The camp residents tell us that the two men who found rifles by the roadside, forgotten there by soldiers, are still under arrest. When the army searched for
the rifles, soldiers came and uprooted
their tents: they took nothing and destroyed nothing, but the children were scared.
15:13 – three days a week - Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, from 08:00 to 08:30 and from 15:00 to 15:30 - the gate next to the road west of the settlement of Roi is opened for passage of Palestinian vehicles. Right now the gate is open, and a tractor loaded with bedouins is going through. Three soldiers who have arrived by jeep are responsible for opening and closing of the gate.
15:47 Hamra Checkpoint
“Today it’s good,” we are told by a man on his way out of the checkpoint. In the compound, a detainee, a shepherd from Hirbet Tana, sits on the concrete floor
his hands cuffed behind his back. One of the
soldiers said he was caught with a knife “this long” – he holds his hands 70 centimetres apart. “He is a shepherd, what does he have to do with a knife.” The soldier admited that the shepherd did not approach the soldiers or the checkpoint, and did not resist arrest or search.
The shepherd pastured his flock far from the checkpoint when he was in possession of the knife – a 15 cm penknife (later we saw it). Perhaps he was sitting with the knife in his hand. Perhaps the soldiers saw him and decided to search him. In the Occupied Territories there is no need to justify searching through someone’s belongings or
person. He has been here an hour, according to the soldiers, and the shepherd confirmed it. They are waiting for the police, who have been summoned.
Here too the men, and children, must raise their shirts in order to pass the checkpoint.
We meet friends of Daphna from the el Hadidia family. These are not the people whose tents the army has destroyed two weeks ago, but neighbours. They say that the day before yesterday soldiers came and searched their tent.
16:30 – a police van arrives and the policeman who emerges says to the soldiers, after seeing the knife: “Good work.” He tells them to cut the plastic handcuffs (we can see the marks left on the man’s wrists). The policeman talks to him. He wants the shepherd to accompany him to t
he police station. The shepherd says he would rather die than leave his sheep in the field. The policeman
grasps the man’s back, moves him to the wall, pushes him down and orders him to stay that way,
kneeling with his face to the wall. The soldiers photograph the detainee. Ten soldiers are now standing at the checkpoint, most doing nothing but circling the police van and chatting with the policemen, who are talking about the detainee on the radio. The policeman decides after many phone calls that the shepherd will be released on bail, and puts
him in touch
with a lawyer. The lawyer puts up bond and the shepherd must get
him 700 shekels by Saturday – a huge amount of money for him.
17:30 – the shepherd is released. We take him ten minutes down the
road in our car. He walks up onto the hills to search for his sheep.