Hamra, Tayasir, Wed 19.5.10, Afternoon

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Revital S. (guest – tourist from the US), Rachel H. (reporting)

Translator:  Charles K.

Valley crossing Bezeq 16:00

We cross as usually with no delay.  Not much traffic.  Many of the vehicles on the road are military vehicles.  No hitchhikers – today’s a holiday.

The landscape is as beautiful as always.  Especially in the afternoon, when the western sun illuminates the hills of Gilead and the entire valley.

הקרוסלה צילום רחל חיות
Tayasir checkpoint 16:30
Trained soldiers, a pillbox watching over them

A strong wind.  Not too hot.  The slopes are already dry.  Four soldiers, spending the holiday at the base.  Most of the time, they’re in position on the road. Occasionally a taxi arrives, one gets up, inspects documents, rummages in the women’s handbags, and goes back down to his comrades.

Many trucks carrying straw pass westward.  Remember when straw wasn’t allowed through?  Because of the straw, or because of what it might hide?  (Are they also holding harvest festivals shaded by bales of hay?)

משאיות עם קש צילום רחל חיותA few minutes past 17:00, after a truck carrying straw passed and the road was empty, we were surprised by a group of soldiers running in formation.  Yelling :  “Fire! Fire! Fire!”  And boom – all drop to the ground in firing position, pointing their weapons…A shout: “Four moves up.  Three takes his place!  Fir! Fire! Fire!”...The scene was repeated, each time another number moves forward, announcing what he’s doing, and we hear them yelling “Fire! Fire! Fire!”  Once we heard “Grenade!”, and a rock was thrown at a trash can standing at the entrance to the base.  The checkpoint and the area where pedestrians are inspected had been abandoned.  We considered taking it over, but decided against it.  Lucky we received a reply: “Don’t worry, the pillbox is covering us.”  When the four reached the gate to the base, the exercise was over (it lasted about 10 minutes), and they returned tired and pleased with themselves to continue their shift.  At that moment a truck arrived loaded with gas balloons and was allowed to continue eastward.

17:25  We left calmed; the soldiers are trained and the pillbox is covering them.
On the way to the Hamra-Beqa’ot checkpoint.  The sinister earthen berm accompanied us on the west side, the settlements accompanied us on the east side, and military vehicles drove with us along the road.

17:40  Hamra checkpoint

That’s my checkpointinfo-icon!  Look how well we treat them.

We met people dissatisfied after being inspected at the checkpoint.  Without belts or shoes… “Is this acceptable?...”  We know it isn’t!  We even know that it’s bad!  Very  bad.  One of them is called back to the checkpoint.  He has to put his briefcase through the scanner again.  Then we saw a female soldier come out and rummage through the bag.  Later she (an MP), will tell us she thought he had a knife, “but it turned out he didn’t.”

We couldn’t keep track of all that was going on at the checkpoint because just then a soldier came over to us and explained excitedly that it was his checkpoint.  “At my checkpoint you can’t stand here.  You can stand over there, stroke them [the Palestinians, that is], feed them, kiss them – but not here!  This is my checkpoint!  I’m calling the police.  You have to get out of here.  Yesterday they found three explosive devices and five knives.  Go over there and see how well we treat them.  Feed them over there, stroke them, but get out of here.  I’m the commander.”

The fact that he wasn’t our commander didn’t convince him, and that we’ve been coming here for a long time, and always stand here.  He telephoned Hershko(?).  Then he left.  And was no longer seen near us.  Later another soldier arrived, together with the female MP, to as whether we wanted anything and to wonder what we were doing.  After she told us about the knife she thought she’d found, she said, “I’ll be glad to know what you’re doing here.”  Apparently our erudite lecture about Machsom Watch was enough to make him leave, and it didn’t really interest her either.  Because she knew already, even before Edna Canetti.

She left us, and then we saw a taxi with yellow license plates coming from the west (Area A).  We thought they were tourists.  We saw the passengers hugging and kissing (our) female MP, and guessed they were family coming to visit their little girl on duty during the holiday.  It was unclear to us, nor was there anyone to ask, how an Israeli taxi could drive on the road to the west of this checkpoint.
 Meanwhile (18:00) a large military pickup truck also arrived.  A blue and red flag was pulled out and hung on one of the poles on the southwest side of the checkpoint.  Perhaps an MP flag.  Usually the black and white flag hangs there, reading  “We’re big on pinpoint operations.”

18:20  We left.

18:40  Jordan Valley Bezeq crossing
The soldier at the checkpoint:  “Everything OK?”  He wants to hear our voice.