Hamra, Tayasir, Tue 23.9.08, Afternoon

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Dafna B., Yfat D.(reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?
Guest: Keren (Active Stills photographer)

Signs of Army presence were visible all around the area. Companies of soldiers were concentrated or dispersed on the sides of the road. Armored vehicles were lined up near an army base. A man in uniform was sitting near a table, in the middle of a valley, staring at a map. The place and the people living there were sidelined in the face of this self-important parade - land usurpation, obstruction of freedom of movement, a sophisticated bureaucratic mechanism - life under constant threat of invasion and abduction. To these, a "special drill", in the name of the army and for the army, was added today.

12:24.  At the Hamra checkpoint, seven cars were waiting to go towards Nablus, and eight cars were in the opposite direction. An Israeli flag was waving above the checkpoint, in the heart of Palestinian territory.

12:55.  At T
ayasir, one car was waiting at each side of the checkpoint. The soldiers demanded that the driver take off some sacks and open the car. They opened and inspected certain parts of the car. They greeted us with curses in Arabic. They ordered the passengers of a big cab to get out, examined their IDs and then called their names, one by one, to return their IDs. All the drivers that approached the checkpoint were asked to stop their cars and stand at a distance, raise their shirts and turn around. There were only a few cars waiting, yet the soldiers inspected them slowly and were not in any rush to let them pass. We left at 13:30.

15:05. The checkpoint in front of the Roʼi settlement is situated in the middle of a fallow field, between two rocks. The army was is interested in obstructing the movement of the local Bedouin vehicles. The checkpoint opens only three times a week and only for a couple of minutes each time. It is supposed to be open for half an hour, yet the cars are always waiting for the army jeep that opens this checkpoint, and immediately after inspecting the cars closes it and drives away. An elderly tractor driver testified that they never arrive on time. Indeed, after we had made phone calls to different army commands, at 15:25 (although the checkpoint should have opened at 15:00), a jeep with four army soldiers arrived. They approached the two drivers at the checkpoint and inspected their IDs solemnly. Five minutes later they allowed them to pass through and immediately after they locked the gate and drove away.

15:45, Hamra checkpoint
14 cars were waiting for inspection to cross to Nablus. Upon our arrival we noticed a soldier holding the arm of a spectacled man wearing a suit. The soldier was gruffly walking him from the cab he had just left to the compound. The man was trying to protest. "Don't make me handcuff you" was the soldier's answer. He physically examined the man's entire body. The man was then left at the compound anxious and sweating. I noticed a foreign passport in the hands of the soldier. The spectacled man told us that he was from Saudi Arabia and that he had arrived here for a visit for a few days with the required permits. He intended to meet and take his bride-to-be to her new house. He had been on the road since yesterday morning. He could not understand the reason for this delay. The soldiers had said that he was wanted by the Shabak (Israel Security Agency) - bingo. Meanwhile inspection proceeded with drawn weapons. People were leaving the magnometer inspection as if they had just been raped - their belts in their hands and their bags fully open.

After one hour it became clear that the security services did not want anyone. Yet the bespectacled man's belongings were examined some more - an elegantly wrapped electrical appliance(for the parents of his bride perhaps?) was torn, and he was finally sent away.

We left at 16:45.