Hamra, Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 7.5.08, Afternoon
Rachel AT, Daphna B (reporting), Two guests from Germany
12:00 Tapuah Checkpoint
No pressure. Three cars in line, but a bus stands in the parking lot waiting for inspection. On Route 505, on the right on the fenced hill above Qablan stands a Hummer, with a huge Israeli flag and a soldier on the roof. Three more soldiers alongside, all pointing their weapons at the village beneath them – in shooting stance. We stop at the foot of the hill to watch. When the soldiers notice us, they lower their guns, watch us for a few minutes, then leave the hill. What they were doing there was blatantly illegal, even under the laws of the Occupation, otherwise they would not have been panicked by us. As they reach us, one of the soldiers shouts that we are forbidden to take photos. We said we are photographing the village, but in any case it was not illegal to take photos. The soldier was angry. He stood facing us in a threatening posture and said "if you take photos, I will be angry, and if I get angry you will feel it!" His comrade towed him to the Hummer and they departed.
13:05 Maale Ephraim
Four cars standing waiting to be checked. When we arrive, the soldiers – reservists and friendly to us – pick up the pace. We noted that two or three Palestinians alighted from each vehicle and crossed the checkpoint on foot. Afterwards, they didn’t get back in the cars that brought them, but stood waiting to hitch a ride. I went over to them to get abn explanation. They said it was hot today, and they wanted to breathe some fresh air. Since it was not particularly hot (25 degrees in the Jordan Valley doesn’t count), the explanation did not make sense, but I got no other... One of the soldiers disliked the idea that I was talking to the Palestinians and shouted to them to move away, more, still more. When that didn’t help, he demanded that I move our car, which was standing far from there, to the other side of the checkpoint. I saw that the Palestinians were getting uptight at the soldier’s hostility, and I left them...
13:30 Hamra Checkpoint
A long line, 26 cars on the east side, waiting to enter the West Bank, 17 waiting to enter the valley and eight more coming from the north. When we arrived, the checkpoint was idle, checking nothing. The reservists began to check the moment we appeared, and within half an hour all the lines had di9sappeared. The Palestinians told us that they had been waiting two hours. In our presence it took the last car in line half an hour to pass. A soldier came over and said to us that he, like us, hates what he is doing here, and therefore he is planning to leave the country as soon as he finishes this tour of duty. The soldiers allow us to stand anywhere, to approach the detention pen – which was empty.
14:10 – we left.
14:45 Tayasir Checkpoint
When we arrive, a lone taxi waits ten minutes till called, but as soon as we are there, the soldiers check it through quickly. Virtually no vehicles arrived. In tyhe hour and a half that we were there, only five cars passed. When we got there, a soldier – apparently the commander – told the soldiers: "Don’t let them pass the (we didn’t hear what...) And in any case – they are air [!], don’t talk to them." In practice, we stood next to them and made no contact. They didn’t disturb us, and we did not bother them (apart from our presence which always bothers...).
16:00 – we wanted to drive to el-Hadida, but the road passes the settlement of Ro’i and was blocked by a locked electrified gate. So we went to an encampment next to Hemdat to ask how we get to el-Hadida. The residents of the encampment recognised me from the checkpoints, and even remembered my name. They greeted us joyfully and, because it was already late to go to el-Hadida, and somebody would have to come from there to show us the way, and it was beginning to get dark, we sat with Yusuf and his brothers, their wives and daughters, drank tea and chatted. Pleasant dusk hours, as though there was no occupation, as though there was no war between his nation and my nation, no Ro’i, no oppression, no exploitation... They said that, with everything, they could live but the water... the water... they grew nothing because there was no water, and their animal feed crops, food and flour – everything was so expensive. Here, by the encampment, there is an abundance of ground water, but they are forbidden to dig. They suggested to the nearby settlement that they would buy water from them. Just a one and a half inch pipe would do... The settlers refused. And so, every four days a tractor drives to Ein el-Beida in the north of the Jordan Valley, two hours journey each way, to fill a trailer tank of water at a cost of 220 shekels...