Hamra, Tayasir, Thu 27.3.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Daphna B. and Merav A. (reporting)
27/03/2008
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Afternoon
Translation: Devorah K.
We went down to the Valley through the continuation of the road that crosses Samaria and we turned into the Alon Road - the road that goes from north to south along the Valley. Along the west side of the road, the army has dug a deep ditch with barbed wire in it to block the possibility of Palestinians going across it to the area of the settlements on the eastern side of the road. All the side roads and the agricultural roads which lead to the main road are blocked by gatesinfo-icon or by mounds of earth, except for the roads that lead to the settlements, of course. Some of the gates are open for the passage of Palestinians twice or three times a week for a few minutes. As we went on, we saw the opening of a gate in operation.

13:30 Tyasir CP
Throughout most of the day the traffic in this CP, which divides the northern part of the West Bank from the Valley, is
very thin. Bedoui children who live in the area and go to school in Tyasir have to go through the CP every day. When we arrived at the CP, three cars were in a queue to go to the West Bank, and another few cars were waiting in order to go to the Valley. In addition, a group of children waited in order to go through the CP. It looked as if the soldiers did not let anyone through until they saw us. As we approached, they began to do inspections. Even then, the soldiers did not hurry.
Cars going through to the Jordan Valley are inspected especially carefully; the cars that are going in the direction of the West Bank are inspected with a lighter hand. Pedestrians are waiting in the shed that is at a distance from the CP and they approach only when the soldier at the inspection post calls on them to advance. Despite the small number of people going through, pedestrians had to wait between a quarter of an hour to twenty minutes throughout all the time that we were there.
The children's schoolbags are examined meticulously. Wait time for the cars was somewhat longer. The drivers are required to stop the cars at a distance from the CP, to get out of the vehicle and do the 'dance': raising the shirt and turning around.
The children who go through the CP continue on foot to the area of Hamam el-Maliach, a distance of about five kilometers east, a two hour walk.
A pickup truck with a sheep on it, that arrives from the West Bank, is made to turn back. Palestinians are not allowed to bring animalsinfo-icon into the Jordan Valley.
A number of people complain to us that when we are not there, the soldiers behave terribly toward them. They point out one red-headed soldier that we see at the CP; but it appears that our presence improves his behavior marvelously. Half an hour after we left the CP, Daphna received a phone call from one of the people going through the CP, telling her that since we left, the soldiers halted the inspections and did not let anyone through.

15:30 Iron Gate East of the the Settlement, Ro'i
We arrived exactly when the opening of the gate enables Palestinian vehicles to cross the road. When we arrived there were two tractors waiting to transport containers of water to the El Hadidiyeh tribe / family, who live behind the settlement of Ro'i. The Palestinian residents in the Jordan Valley have to buy their water in containers from the West Bank, even though they are on land with large reserves of water. The fact is that the Israeli water company, 'Mekorot', has taken over the wells and Palestinians are not allowed to pump water from them. All around, on the eastern side of the road, you see the green settlements with a wide variety of agricultural crops - flowers, groves, vineyards, and so on.
Later, another tractor arrives. Everybody is waiting. The gate is supposed to open between 15:00 and 15:30, on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Meanwhile it is already 15:40 and we do not see a single soldier. The drivers tell us that sometimes the army opens the gate only toward evening, after 17:00. They also tell us that the army prevents them from taking the shortest route to their village, since that road goes through the settlement of Ro'i; that is why they are forced to drive around the settlement, a much longer route.
Finally, a military hummer appears in a storm. First the soldiers do not want to open the gate, because we are there. They receive their commands via radio that under any circumstances they have to open the gate. The do so, inspect the documents of the Palestinians, let them go through and then they close the gate. All together, the gate was open for no more than five minutes.
The soldiers insist on starting a conversation with us. They are surprised to hear that they are in occupied territory; do not understand what the connection is between human rights and what they do to the Palestinians; and try to understand why we live in this country if we do not believe that we have title to it from the days of the patriarchs.
When we arrived five cars were waiting in a queue to go to the West Bank. One of the soldiers approached us. He does not know our organization and asks what we are doing there. When we say that we have caome to observe the CP, he invites us magnanimously to take pictures, to see what is happening at the CP. The other soldiers show him his mistake very quickly. The CP commander is not at all happy to see us. He notifies us that as long as we are there he still stop the inspection, and in fact, he closes the CP. He is not interested in the fact the legal advisor of the army has decided that it is illegal to close the CP because we are there.
We contact Naomi who will inform the legal advisor of the army that the CP is closed. Meanwhile, Daphna also contacts headquarters and the CP commander soon is asked via radio what the conditions are at the CP. He says that it is closed because there are Israelis at the CP. They ask him if we are actually inside the CP and interfering with the inspection, and he says that we are, even though we are at a distance outside the CP.
After more than ten minutes, in which the CP was closed, we begin to go further away. The queue of cars has lengthened and there are now about 20 or more both on the side of the West Bank and on the side of the Jiftlik. There is also a group of a few dozen workers. We stand at about 50 meters from the CP and the CP still remains closed. A military jeep arrives and two officers, lieutenants, get out of it. They confirm that even though we are at a significant distance from the CP, the CP will stay closed. And they demanded that we go all the way beyond the crossroads. From that distance, you cannot see what is happening at the CP at all. Even after we did go there, the soldiers were in no hurry to open the CP and it was closed for a full 35 minutes.

19:00 Ma'aleh Efraim CP
There are one or two cars waiting to go in each direction. The Palestinians are required to park their vehicle on the side of the road while they wait for the inspection, so that they won't, God forbid, block the road for the 'masters of the land,' the settlers. Workers whom we meet claim that it is worthwhile to examine what happens at this CP early in the morning, at about 4:00, when they are going out to work. They claim that the inspection is very slow and long queues are the rule.