Hamra, Tayasir, Thu 14.5.09, Afternoon

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Daphna B, Maya G-T, Yifat D. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translation: Devorah K.

The army is again using the Valley as a playground at the expense of the residents. Military tents are spread over the whole area: tanks, flags and soldiers in training. 

At the Tayasir CP at 13:45 soldiers are inspecting everybody who wants to go through from the Nablus area to the Valley and those going in the other direction. The workers have to obey all the instructions of the soldiers by answering a series of questions: these include instructions to have the documents examined, to show their stomachs, open their bags and demonstrate honesty. As always the driver lets the passengers out at a great distance from the inspection area and they are forced to walk up to the CP. In a few cases very small children or very old people remain in the car. Every time that happened the soldiers warned the drivers that this is the last time that such a thing against the rules can occur.

"Next time, I'll have you stand at the gate for an hour, so you'll remember to let the child out of the car." said one of the officers to a driver who left a toddler in the car even though he took care to let the rest of the passengers (three women and small children) out beforehand.

A number of cars were turned back because only the cars of the Jordan Valley residents can go to the Jordan Valley. Visitors are not allowed to go through in their cars. And, furthermore, Palestinians are allowed to drive only cars that are registered in their names.

In at least one instance, the driver was sent to the Hamra CP which is between Nablus and the Valley "because you can only leave from there".

"Let them through -- they have nothing on them" says the CP commander to one of the soldiers doing inspection, in reference to five children aged between 5 and 8.

15:15 The gate opposite the settlement of Ro'i (Gochya) is locked and a jeep with soldiers is nearby. This is one of the few good hours of the week when residents are allowed to go through here in a car.

We meet a friend who lives opposite the CP near Humseh. He is not allowed to go through from here even when the gate is open because half a year he lived in Jiftlik, a nearby village, so he does not have the right to be included in the list of selected residents -- They are forced to transport their containers of water by the long and expensive way around through the Hamra CP. On Tuesday morning, he says, neighbors of his waited for three hours and the soldiers did not arrive in order to open the gate. Two weeks ago, soldiers came at night to the encampment and made a lot of noise. They ran over a sheep with the jeep and when the residents threatened to complain, a soldier said, "no problem, go and complain!" They did bring a complaint to the civilian administration with the number of the jeep and a description of the soldiers. Nothing came of it.

At the Hamra CP at 16:00, the soldier announces that he has instructions to close the CP because we are there, and he says: "What do you want? The Arabs go through here without any problems." Afterwards, they are instructed by radio not to shut the CP. One of the taxi drivers tells us how last week he had a bride in his taxi. She was dressed up and made up for the wedding. The soldiers wanted her to get out just like everybody else and to go through the turnstile. She did not agree both because of the dress and because she did not want to. To punish her they sent them to the back of the queue for an extra half hour. Ten cars on their way to Nablus are in the inspection queue, as well as six cars on their way to the Valley.

One of the soldiers stands near the concrete hut and waves to the drivers with his club. That is the way he shows them that they can go ahead. Here, too, the inspection is like that of Tayasir. Here too, people approach the area of the inspection with hesitant steps; they do not know what kind of soldiers will be there today. Here too cars were sent back. The soldier with the club shows the taxi driver that he has to take a valise down from the roof of the car, to put it on the ground and to show what is in it.