Hamra, Tayasir, Thu 28.8.08, Afternoon
At 12:06 we passed by Hamra Checkpoint, and saw eight cars delayed for checking in the direction of Nablus, and three the other way. A large part of the space alonside the road is marked by signs warning that the area is a "fire zone" and dangerous. These are lands confiscated from the residents without compensation, and the remaining land has become "living space" – an enclave not forbidden to the residents.
12:37 – on the water tower at Tayasir Checkpoint, above the soldiers’ positions, huge red graffiti – "No One But Him" – the link between divine promises and armed guard. The checks at the checkpoint, as we have seen previously, include: passengers out of cars to be checked separately (including children of all ages); passage under magnometer, inspection of IDs and of packages. The driver must bare his abdomen in front of everyone, and turn around. Approaches with the car, presents his ID and a thorough check of the vehicle under the instructions of a soldier, who points to the part he wants to inspect. The toilets at the checkpoint are not for the use of the transients, as is evidenced by the signs which are only in Hebrew and English. As usual Jewish soldiers issue orders and Palestinians obey. One of the officers photographs our car – apparently for an album of left-wing activists. The same officer explains to one of us that horrible things no longer happen at Tayasir because "they have all learnt that if something happens, the Palestinians call you." We left at 13:10.
On the way we meet a friend – a taxi driver who works in the area. He complains that in recent days the soldiers are also counting babies as full-fledged passengers – and don’t allow him to carry more than seven. So he is forced to ask the parents to pay a fare for the babies – which has not been the case in the past. "They don’t have the money," he says.
An argument between one of the soldiers and a young man. Finally the soldier takes him to the pen and detains him. The man – a Palestinian policeman from Balata – appears on one of their lists, and they contend that they must check this with the war room (?) The soldier’s rifle is pointed at a distance of two metres at the passengers of a car while another soldier checks them. Here too the passengers must first descend for separate inspection and the soldier indicates the parts of the vehicle that he wants to inspect. While changing shifts in order to eat, the soldiers stop the check for 11 minutes. And again, the attitude of the soldiers to the transients is that of overlords. We left at 14:48.
14:55 – the road curves after Hamra. An army jeep stands next to a boy and his camel. They came from the area of Nablus on the way to Jericho. They came up from a dirt track. The conversation is basically one of warning. The soldier says that the boy should have passed through the checkpoint with the camel. Not the way he came... "Next time I see you, you pass through the checkpoint!"