Hamra, Tayasir, Tue 7.10.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Daphna B., Yifat, D. (reporting
07/10/2008
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Afternoon
Seriously? Does this make us safer?
Translation: Devorah K.

"There was once pity in the world."

12.57 The first entrance into Kfar Marda (to the west on Road 5) is open. At the second entrance there is a military jeep. The entrance to Zeita is blocked and the gate is also closed.

13:16 Maaleh Efraim CP
While we park the car, one of the soldiers comes up to us and notifies us: "Not a single Arab will go through until you go away from here." At the CP, on both sides, young settlers are standing inside the soldiers' posts and carrying on conversations with them (this went on all the time we were there). The soldiers stop inspecting Palestinian vehicles. After talking it over, we decided to stay and stand at a distance of 50 meters from the CP. The drivers' testimony is that the soldiers delay them for hours in the Valley CPs even when we are not there. We worried that if we left, the soldiers would continue using this tool and we would not be able to do any observations. At the side of the CP stands a young man who has been detained by the soldiers for the last half hour. They claim that there is a problem with his permits and that they have to call the police. More and more cars arrive and the soldiers do not let them through. The soldiers send the settlers to drive us away. Israeli cars go past the Palestinian cars very quickly. After about 25 minutes, the soldiers get instructions to detain us in the compound and to take our phones, but to continue with the inspection. They do not do this. A few young fellows arrive at the CP on their way back from work. The soldiers refuse to inspect them also. These fellows tell us that in the early morning hours they are delayed at the CP for two or three hours. They'd arrived at dawn in order to get a place in the queue. At 13:50 a policeman arrives to inspect the detainee and lets him go on his way. At 13:55 there is a queue of three cars on one side and eight on the other, and five people. In the course of 40 minutes they have not allowed any Palestinian vehicle through. The soldiers renew the inspection only after they receive an order to do so. We left at 14:00.

14:15 Hamara CP
There are long queues on both sides of the CP. When the drivers finally get to the inspection area the soldier scolds them: "Come on, move faster, don't you see that your friends are waiting!" Others shout rudely to the second queue: "Raise your shirts. Don't you understand?" "Go back." "Get away from here," and so on. The soldiers now signal  the passengers in every car to get out for inspection; this includes the passengers going in the direction of Nablus. A car arrives for inspection. On the inside of the window, the driver put a small plastic Palestinian flag. The soldier doing the inspection grabs the flag roughly and throws it down on the seat near the driver without saying a word. In reaction to our question, he says that that is not an instruction from his superiors, but a personal decision of his own. But anyway he does not intend to answer us because we are not really Jewish women. The soldiers detain a man from among those going through because they think that his document is strange. They examine him, asking about the personal details with cynical smiles on their faces. Afterwards, they put him in the compound. The driver of the taxi in which he arrived notifies him that he will not wait for him.

15:04 CP opposite the Ro'i settlement
A tractor is waiting on one side of the gate for two tractors on the other side. This CP opens three time a week, twice a day, for a few minutes. The soldiers never arrive on time. The gate is supposed to open at 15:00. At 15:30 there is still no sign of the soldiers. At 15:45 a jeep, no. 669403, arrives, and four soldiers get out. They immediately approach us saying that this is a military area and we have to get out. There are maneuvers here and we are liable to get hurt. "And what about the other people here?" Daphna asks. They admit that it is not exactly a fire area, but refuse to inspect the cars until we go away from our friends who are waiting. "Come on" yells a soldier to A.S., the old man, and his wife, who are waiting here as they do every week.

16:00 Tyasir CP
When we arrived, the CP commander approaches us and tries to make us go away. He gestures to the soldiers to stop the inspection. After a quarter of an hour there are five cars from one direction, four from the other direction and three woman pedestrians in the shed. The soldiers are instructed to continue the inspection but continue inspecting only the cars. Only when they see their commander approaching them, five minutes later, do they continue the inspection. We tell the commander about the way they are acting. He doubts our story. We suggest that he ask one of the pedestrians who has just been allowed to go through, and he reacts saying, "I won't ask them." The soldiers ask the drivers to raisetheir shirts in order to be allowed to go through. They inspect the cars by pointing to different things in them; the driver immediately takes the item out, opens, it, lifts it. At the end of the inspection they leave the doors open. The drivers have to run around the car to close them. Our friend, one of the drivers who goes through this CP regularly, calls us to say that in the morning there was a soldier who made a special effort to detain people and threw people's clothes on the ground.

17:03 Hamara CP
Twelve cars are waiting to drive west in the direction of Nablus and eleven are waiting to go in the other direction. The first in the queue tell us that they have been waiting for an hour and a half. And again, there are the rude shouts of "Come on already!" "Come on, quick!" "Lift your shirts!" By contrast with the instructions they are shouting, the soldiers themselves do not speed up the inspection. A bus arrives, full of young people coming back from work in a settlement, 69 people. The soldiers make them stand in queues, push them to show them where they should be standing. The begin to inspect documents, and then they give up. They put the rest of the documents into the hand of one of the passengers for him to give out to the people in the queue.

17:54 Maaleh Efraim CP
It is now dark. Behind the pillbox Daphna discovers three figures sitting down huddled together. From their position, we conclude that they are handcuffed. When we approach them we hear shouts and see that a big police car is nearby with many more people in it. All together there are 14 young men - all handcuffed. Before they see us, I see one of the soldiers take a young man out of the police car and push him to his knees, push the rifle into his face, and yell at him. The soldiers try to prevent us from coming closer and taking pictures. They try to complain to the policeman, but that does not help them. The soldiers claim that they caught the young men trying to circumvent the CP and they brought them in an hour ago. The called the police in to fine them because there were too many people in the car. Why are they handcuffed? "Because do you think I need them walking around freely in the CP?" True. They make them sit down in a line with their backs to the CP. From time to time the soldier keeps the handcuffed people quiet by yelling, "Quiet!" in Arabic. It is very cold and some of the young men are wearing very thin shirts and you can see that they are suffering. The soldiers appoint one of the handcuffed fellows to be in charge. His hands are freed and he is allowed to release them, one at a time to go to the toilet or to smoke a cigarette; he also gives them water. One of the handcuffed men, who angers a soldier, is made to sit in one of the soldiers' posts with his back to the others. Israeli cars and buses are passing during all this time. People from the nearby settlements keep coming to see if they can hitch a ride. Nobody even glances at the prisoners.

The CP commander receives instructions to release them at a quarter to eight. But he says, "What is this? It's not headquarters that decides; I decide when to release them." Still, at a quarter to eight, the soldiers begin to release the fellows very slowly. The cellular phone of one of them has disappeared and they do not find it. We left. After half an hour, one of the fellows called us to say that only then had they all been released.