Tayasir, Tue 9.11.10, Afternoon

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Ravital S., Rachel H.(reporting and photographing

Translator:  Charles K.

Bezeq checkpoint 13:10 – We crossed.  No one paid any attention to us.

We were to meet Abu-Sakar to give him the part of his generator that had been repaired, so we decided to begin at the Hamra checkpoint.
13:45  On the way to the Hamra checkpoint:  After a meeting at the junction to the Hamra settlement and a polite refusal to have tea with the residents of the nearby tent encampment, we drove south on the road.  To our west, stretching almost to the settlement of Bequa’ot, the earthen berm had been redone and raised higher.

14:00  Hamra checkpoint.  Hot!  The sun beats down!
Bright yellow meets our eyes.  The soldiers are busy with whatever they’re doing.  Two long, narrow black flags, one white/dappled
Two female MPs and five or more soldiers.  The usual sight – pedestrians carrying their belts in their hands, cars passing through and waiting for their passengers on the eastern side of the checkpoint.   Many vans and buses cross westward (to the West Bank), carrying laborers.  They wave greetings to us.  A car from Medecines Sans Frontieres, and a huge truck carrying two enormous blocks of stone (a total of 62 tons) from a quarry near Jenin to a stone works south of Bethlehem also cross.
The soldiers approach.  We met one of them last week.  He says he opened our web site.  Asks why there’s no film clip of the Hamra checkpoint, and we recommend other sites dealing with the same topic.
Investigators from Yesh Din stop to say hello (cows had been stolen from one of the encampments, and they’d taken statements).  They tell us that a hill opposite the settlement of Maskiyot has been taken over and fenced off, west of the Alon road.  We didn’t notice that on our way; our eyes had been on the ridge of settlements where earth-moving equipment was clearing a road, and perhaps also preparing land for new construction.

14:45  We left.

15:05  Many cars at the junction to the Maskiyot settlement.  Opposite, we see a new barbed wire fence surrounding a large area.  Inside the fenced area is a shed flying a Palestinian flag, and people.  A UN jeep climbs the fenced hill.  We left the car next to Fat’hi’s tent and walked up.  At the same time we saw a large number of settlers descending from Maskiyot toward the road.  On the fenced hill we met journalist who were just leaving.  We saw five French volunteers seated hunched over beneath the flag, surrounded by 30 or more noisy young settlers baying, dancing, leaping, singing and waving flags in support of Gilad Shalit.  When they saw us they also fell upon us yelling, photographing, demanding that Gilad Shalit be released, since it’s common knowledge that we support Hamas. 

15:35  We left.  On the way we ran into an army jeep coming up the hill.  The soldier said that if we’re concerned about the volunteers we should contact the DCO, not to photograph him, turned around and drove away.

We understood from Fat’hi’s family that the two adult Bedouins who had been on the hill were removed violently.

The settlers had erected the fence at about 2 AM, and the volunteers had brought the flag.  They’d heard promises that tomorrow (Wednesday, 10.11.10) morning the fence would be removed.

Around 16:00 there were no more settlers on the hill; they’d massed at the junction and three more volunteers (from Spain) were on their way to the hill with food and water.  Concerned about what might happen to those volunteers, we phoned Chana.  It turns out that the army promised the Latin Patriarchate, on whose land the fence had been erected, that it would in fact be removed tomorrow.  The volunteers ought to leave, for their own safety and to get the settlers out of there.

16:20:  Tayasir checkpoint
Two huge bulldozers greet us.  We should note here an error we made in a previous report.  By mistake we wrote “D9” instead of simply “bulldozer.”  The area is relatively clear.  We see that a bulldozer has scraped and swept it.  The same black flags as at Hamra (“Operations Unit 94.  The Black Dragons”).  Friendly soldiers asked who we were and what we’re doing.  And why checkpoints are or aren’t necessary.  They didn’t look like new recruits (sergeants +).  They didn’t seem to know much about the history of the country they’re serving.  They’d heard something was happening near Maskiyot, but it’s none of their business because they’re at Tayasir (they’re right!).  Much noise of shooting in the area.  On the way we saw a number of field tents, of a type we’d become used to.  Three soldiers came out of the base carrying cardboard cartons.  We already knew that the cartons will be used as targets.

16:45  We left Tayasir.

16:55  Maskiyot settlement junction.  A jeep and 5-10 people at the junction.  Seated.  We met the volunteers who told us they’d decided to remain.  They have phone number if they need them.

17:15  Bezeq
- How are you?  Where are you coming from?
- Hamra and Tayasir
We drove on.