Eliyahu Crossing, Huwwara, Ma'ale Efrayim, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sat 22.10.11, Morning

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Ruthie R. (reporting), Na’ama K. (guest)

Translator:  Charles K.

9:45  Za’tara (Tapuach junction)

Empty.  No soldiers, no police officers.  Heavy traffic in both directions.

10:10  Ma’aleh Efrayim

Also empty.  No traffic here at all.

10:30  Hamra checkpoint

From the west:  A tractor pulling a water wagon, two women holding babies and two children seated on its fenders, is just leaving the checkpoint.

Also a taxi with two passengers.

A car is being inspected, its three passengers have already crossed on foot and are waiting for it.  A minute later they’re on their way.

Many soldiers present (we counted 7), two in the two booths on the road and the rest inspecting, going over to the pedestrian area, etc.  Two (a male and a female) look like military police investigators – their bullet-proof vests are different.

10:33  A car with four riders arrives.  The passengers (two men and two women) go through at 10:35; the car was inspected before them and is already waiting.

Cars arrive to be inspected one by one, but there’s not much traffic while we’re there so they don’t have to wait.

The next car took five minutes to go through – the soldier gave the driver’s papers to the soldier in the guard booth (there’s a computer terminal there for checking names).

10:42  A taxi lets out five passengers, goes through in one minute.  The passengers emerge from inspection about 10:46.

10:44  Another taxi drops off six passengers and returns to Tubas.  The passengers cross by 10:50.

From the east:  Cars sometimes wait five minutes for the soldier in the right-hand booth to wave them through.  Lots of taxis here today; they wait 3-5 minutes and cross without inspection.

11:20  Ma’leh Efrayim

No soldiers or traffic

11:40  Za’tara (Tapuach junction)

No soldiers, heavy traffic

11:55  Huwwara checkpoint

The checkpoint isn’t manned; very heavy traffic.  When we arrived we saw about 15 soldiers walking from the large parking lot toward the observation tower.  In full kit (helmets, bullet-proof vests, weapon).  It was a little scary, but the Palestinian drivers weren’t impressed and drove on as usual, without stopping.  The soldiers stood in a group below the tower, and suddenly it appeared like a guided tour – one stood a little higher up, talking, motioning with his hands.  It would have been interesting to listen, but we didn’t try.

12:05  The usual traffic and the soldiers are still in the tower’s shade.

12:25  One of the new, large, terrifying armored police jeeps is parked at the entrance to Ramat Gil’ad.

12:40  Eliyau crossing

A sign at the right-hand lane, “Authorized Palestinian Vehicles.”  New?  We understand that during the week this is a very difficult crossing for vehicles and pedestrians – it takes a long time, and the inspections are endless, but we didn’t see anyone.  Only Israeli vehicles at this moment.