Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 14.1.13, Afternoon

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Naomi L., Rina T. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translator:  Charles K.


09:55  Za’tara checkpoint

No inspections


10:10  Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint

No soldiers.  Two cars with yellow license plates are parked inside the checkpoint; they were also there when we returned.


10:35  Hamra checkpoint

Palestinian residents of the West Bank are allowed to enter the JordanValleyin their vehicles.  Also, Palestinian Israelis are allowed through the checkpoint in both directions after the soldiers ask them for the purpose of their trip.


We ask the same questions every time we arrive at a checkpoint, because the rules change daily.  Two weeks ago, for example, Israeli Arabs weren’t allowed through.  The rules at the Tayasir checkpoint will be different from those at the Hamra checkpoint, even though both have the same purpose – to separate the West Bank from the JordanValley.


There was no traffic at the checkpoint while we were there.


10:50  Gochia gate

The gate is open!  Someone broke through it.  A fragment of chain remains, without a lock.  We entered to find out why.  No one at the first tent encampment knew who’d broken through, or why.  They said it must have been the army.  Such things happened recently when tanks broke through the gate to conduct maneuvers, and residents were also made to leave their homes.

They tell us the gate is usually locked.  Whoever approaches is observed by the army’s cameras and a military vehicle shows up, but the gate is opened only for someone having a special permit to go through it.  The person we’re talking to, who lives near the gate, doesn’t have a permit.  He doesn’t know the criteria used to grant permits.  It’s clear that the entire procedure takes a long time.  People cross there to get to work.  And anyway – why should there be a gate here, other than to embitter the lives of the residents?  Nothing unusual occurred during the time the gate was wide open.


Soldiers training opposite the Ro’i settlement.  They don’t enter the settlement’s cultivated area; they’re on the narrow path between the vineyard and the road.  Last week all the residents of Hamam el Malih were forced to leave their homes for two days when the army conducted exercises among their tents.  But to bother settlers – that's inconceivable.


We saw many soldiers training wherever we passed.


12:10  Tayasir checkpoint

Reservists on duty.  They welcome us.  West Bankresidents can come through with their cars.  Israeli citizens aren’t allowed through.


Visit with D.’s family

We asked about their connection with this place.  Their clan has lived here since Ottoman times.  They used to migrate during years of drought when there was no grass for the sheep, even as far as the coastal plain, but have always returned because the land belonged to them.  Part of the clan has fled to Jordanin 1967 and they were not allowed to return.  They’ll come back when there’s peace, ‘insh’allah.


15:00  Za’tara junction (Tapuach)

A police car and two Palestinian cars parked in the plaza.  They were stopped because one of the drivers had no license.  His car was impounded and would be taken to Vered Yericho.  He’ll have to pay a bond of NIS3000 until the trial.  On the face of it, everything’s in order – he broke the law and has been punished accordingly.  But there’s only one little problem – it’s an Israeli law, and the fines are set according to economic conditions in Israel.  The economy of the occupied territories is that of a third-world country.  The average daily wage is NIS70-80, less than half the Israeli minimum wage.  NIS3000 represents a month and a half of wages, at least.