Tayasir, Tue 6.12.11, Afternoon

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Ravital S., Racheleh H. (reporting and photographing)

Translator:  Charles K.

11:45  Bezeq checkpoint – We crossed.

Clear skies, the hillsides becoming green, the occupation is at full tilt…

Alon Road

The fence of Maskiyot settlement, with its light poles, is now below a huge sign reading  “Maskiyot.”  The suspicion that they’re preparing for a new stage of construction seems to be coming true.

Gochia checkpoint

Soldiers, two military ATVs, and a white military Transit standing near the gate.  The area looks as if a geological trauma had occurred.  Rocks, piles of earth, a broad, deep trench west of the berm. 

The earth mound

Three teams working to raise it higher and dig the trench behind it (Maginot Line?).  The southernmost team nears the Hamra checkpoint, where there was a huge yellow bulldozer.  Each of the two teams working west of the section of the road between the settlements of Ro’i and Beqa’ot has two D9 bulldozers and soldiers protecting them.  The process:  a bulldozer digs and deepens the trench west of the earth mound, a second bulldozer puts the excavated earth on the earth mound, to make it higher.

12:35  Hamra checkpoint

A staff sergeant approaches us to put us in our place. He’s pleased to discover he knows us.
Many (more than 15) soldiers on site.  Various vehicles, include a huge prison vehicle.  The soldiers are geared up from head to toe, including knives strapped to their legs, as if on their way to some operation.  A line of six cars forms.  One soldier notices and waves them through.  The staff sergeant gathers the fighters and orders them to clean the checkpoint area.

13:15  We left.

13:30  Tayasir checkpoint

A Transit (ID number in red) belonging to the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health waits to cross eastward.  The driver says they arrived at the checkpoint at about 1 PM.  A small truck stands at the position on the road, 4 or 5 people sitting on the curb.  Soldiers gathered around them.  After about 15 minutes a line of taxis and other cars has formed.  One of the drivers shows us photographs of long lines that he takes every day, at different times.  He says that drivers and passengers wait and wait, and the soldiers don’t let them through. 

When we began moving toward the checkpoint (13:45) a soldier came over.

“You’re not allowed to be here,” “Closed military area,” he said he’d been sent to move us away.  We asked who’s being detained.  The answer:  “Someone who had been imprisoned.  We’re waiting for them to contact us over the radio, and then we’ll transfer him.”  We hadn’t managed to find out how he know the person had been imprisoned, and if he had, why detain him now, when two officers emerged from the army base.  We asked why three soldiers are leaning over one of the detaineesinfo-icon, and what are they’re doing to him.  The officer said he’s going to see what’s happening.  So do we. 

14:00  We telephone Chana B.  The answer wasn’t long in coming.  We were asked to wait half an hour to see whether they’ll be released.

We hear the soldiers who are near the detainees:  “I’m not talking to you!!!”  “He’s been in the Islamic Movement for three years, and that one has been a member for five years…”  Meanwhile you can see the long line that formed to the east.  A military jeep comes out of the base.  One of the drivers calls to a soldier and offers to move aside the truck blocking the crossing to allow the cars to go through.  And at 14:05 his offer is implemented.  The detainees are sent to sit near the wall of the observation tower, the truck is parked in the adjacent parking bay.  The caravan begins to cross. 

14:15  The cars from the west begin crossing. 

14:30  The pupils arrive.  They ask for food, for money, and run to their minibus.  There was no one to ask how long they’d waited to cross.

Sounds of gunfire from the firing ranges.  More and more shots.

14:40  We begin to leave.  The detainees are still seated at the foot of the wall.  Seven soldiers come out of the base in a line, one designated to bring up the rear.  They’re loaded down.  One complains: “Why did you drop this target practice on me?”

14:45  We left.

15:05  Bezeq checkpoint – we went through.

Phone call from Chana:  The detainees were released at about 16:30.