'Azzun 'Atma, Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Wed 9.3.11, Afternoon

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Karin L., Gila P. (reporting), Sean (guest)

Translator:  Charles K.

13:00  Agricultural gate (near Azzun Atma, on the way to Oranit)

The soldier at the gate won’t tell us the name of the gate or the hours it’s open.

13:10  Azzun Atma, southern checkpoint

Children and youths coming from Azzun Atma go through the revolving gate and cross Route 5 on their way home after school.  No one entering from the opposite direction.

13:20  Shomron gate

Traffic flows in all directions, also at the Za’tara (Tapuach) junction.  Heavy rain, strong winds and a hailstorm on the way to:

14:30  Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint

This doesn’t appear to be manned.  All of the Jordan Valley is green.

14:50  Hamra checkpoint

Little traffic in both directions, mostly taxis and trucks.

15:30  Tayasir checkpoint

Two trucks and a car waiting to cross to Tubas. The drivers wait for a sign and go through.  Passengers going to the Jordan Valley get out of their vehicles for inspection.  A taxi waits for the passengers who are being inspected.  One of them indicates with hand motions how his belt was checked.  A Palestinian driver waiting for his passengers approaches us:  “Now things are OK.  There were problems this morning.  Yesterday afternoon I waited an hour and a half.  The soldiers are good today.  If the soldier’s good – there are no problems.  If the soldier’s bad – it’s hard.  If they see me talking to you, they’ll make trouble for me.”  A short distance away a soldier is having a friendly chat with a Palestinian and they part with a handshake (not a common sight).  He approaches us to hear what we’re saying; he’s a young officer with a boyish face.  He says that in the morning and afternoon buses with pupils and teachers go through, which aren’t inspected.  He tells us about buses coming from Nablus carrying children who go to school in the Jordan Valley.  They’re delayed only “when things happen that aren’t supposed to happen.  Then it can’t be helped; they have to wait a long time.”  Not long ago they caught hunters with rifles.  “It’s as if I were carrying my weapon in Tel Aviv” (really, an unusual sight!)

Karin notes, as usual, the contradiction between the sign indicating that this is Area A, where Israelis are forbidden entry, and the visible presence of soldiers in this area.

16:30  Hamra checkpoint (on our way back)

Nothing worth mentioning except for the fact that we drove through occupied territory.