Hamra, Jalama, Tayasir, Tue 6.4.10, Afternoon

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Neta G, Leah R, Anna N-S (reporting)
“Are you Daphna?” we are asked by a Palestinian passing through Tayasir Checkpoint.

Jalame Checkpoint
We brought back a father and child from medical treatment at Rambam Hospital. Closureinfo-icon continues. Only humanitarian cases are crossing. The father says that this morning (08:30) transit was fast, IDs were collected and checked by hand as they were taken into the rooms. The regular security people were apparently on vacation. Many cars of Israeli Arabs returning from West Bank visits (mostly from Jenin).

15:00 Guchia
A gate/block on the dirt path a little after Ro’i settlement. An iron bar linked to two concrete slabs, two signs from each direction warning that this is a “Firing Zone,” earth mounds along the Allon Road, on both sides of this checkpoint preventing residents from crossing the road from East to West. As we arrive, there is no one waiting even though this is the official opening hour. At the DCO they said that the soldiers are on their way, and they confirmed that the gate is supposed to be open for half an hour. Who is allowed to pass here? No answer!

15:20 – soldiers still have not arrived. There is an observation point, and they apparently saw that there is no demand for their services at this hour. We also left.

The virgin hill landscape accompany us to Hamra – spectacular. As we reach the hothouses and the verdant settlements facing the poor and sad looking Bedouin encampments – the landscape beauty is no longer soul satisfying. Again we encounter annoying acts of man – earthen mounds to prevent passage.
Water tankers are traveling on the road, as are pickups and agricultural vehicles. There is accelerated development here.

15:40 Hamra Checkpoint
The checkpoint is flooded with Israeli flags in case anyone has doubts about who is sovereign and patron here. Alongside the vehicle checkpoint a hut for checking documents of travelers in vehicles coming from the west – the West Bank. According to the soldiers the checkpoint is manned 24 hours a day and some 5000 people pass daily.

A woman soldier comes over and warns us not to photograph (“forbidden”) and says that she is from the Sting Unit. A soldier comes over and takes her away from us.

Afternoon – shift change. Coming and going, and meanwhile, till the ceremony and exchanges of greetings are over, nine cars wait in the blistering Jordan Valley heat to travel eastward. Quietly.

16:00 – most of the cars have passed by now. Transit of vehicles is in both directions simultaneously. From the west (the West Bank) families with small children, Bedouin, some of them from villages around Jiftlik and others from Yatta and down to Hebron. At Jiftlik there are 450 huts and lean-tos. Recently the army has destroyed some on the contention that Bedouin have moved in who are not “locals” (not locals?). Alongside the road taxis wait for passengers who are undergoing checks at the checkpoint, or for random passengers. They fill up and go. We chat with the drivers and get the impression that it is preferable to keep conversations with us short. No complaints. Preferable only to say good things. And so “today the soldiers are okay,” and somebody adds: “when you are here everything is okay.” We learn that the trip to Yatta takes two and a half hours. En route they encounter an IDF checkpoint and two Palestinian Authority checkpoints. This holds them up. Some of the villages are linked to the electric grid, but only for a few hours a day. As much as we saw, the check of pedestrians takes a short time.

16:55 Tayasir Checkpoint
The road westward to the checkpoint passes through breathtaking scenery. Wade el Mali is still beautiful with its remnants of buildings and flows from sweet water springs. Worth visiting. Workers from the West Bank in the settlements pass through here, as do those who work in Israel. The vehicles wait for the soldier’s call (a waved hand). The driver approaches to hand over identity papers and if he has a permit, he drives through. The flow of vehicles is thin at this hour. Alongside the checkpoint, a hut where passengers are checked. The vehicle check is fast. A vehicle on the narrow road has to maneuver between lanes and around traffic islands. Not complicated but entirely unnecessary.

17:15 – on our way home we stop by signs put up by European Union missions who are setting up infrastructure for the locals, like hothouses, etc. and two beautiful Bedouin girls stop next to us to ask for a donation. We don’t have. No matter, they say, next time...
On the way it is annoying and frustrating to see the green settlements like desert oases, enjoying the region’s water, alongside the poverty in which the local Bedouin live, even if life style dictates the differences. The Israeli arrogance to act as if they are the only owners cries out to the heavens. Apparently no one is listening....