Ya'bed-Dotan Checkpoint: A settler forges private road on Palestinian land

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Ruti Tuval (photos), Neta Golan (writes)

14:30 Tora-Shaked checkpoint

Very quiet and very dirty, as usual. The place has signage and a car of 'The Fence Maintenance'. Maintenance probably does not include cleaning. Two women with cute girls move into the Seam Zone. A car is waiting to cross into the West Bank. Soldiers have time on their hands. A second car arrives. The soldiers still bide their time. Finally the cars pass. Another huge hangar has been built near the new fence that surrounds the Shaked settlement. We do not know its purpose.

We cross the Barta'a checkpoint. The Palestinian parking lot and the two lots up the road are full. The truck parking lot is empty.

15:00 We continue to the Ya’bed-Dotan checkpoint and notice that on the new road, which was opened from road 585, between Emricha and Mevo Dotan, a small tractor is traveling. We follow it to the locked yellow gate, which blocks the way. The guy on the tractor is wearing a T-shirt and on the back is the inscription 'Havat El Naveh' (which can be reached from Road 596) and in the front there is an IDF emblem and the inscription 'Manela'. A strange conversation develops, apparently interspersed with "inaccuracies" on the guy’s part, who’s trying to “put one over on us”. Says he is a relative of the late Gadi Manela (fell in the Jordan Valley in 1968), who he says was a leftist and so was his family. The guy is not ready to say where the road leads and where he lives. Says he's waiting for someone to open the gate, but in his belt there’s a gun as well as a key. He opens the gate, passes and locks. Perhaps the road connects to the outpost near Mevo Dotan, Maoz Zvi or Dotan B. The road is not paved but the dirt is well packed.

15:30 Ya’bed-Dotan checkpoint

 From the guard tower, a soldier observes the cars traveling in both directions. Two huge trucks pass by nearly endangering the other cars. One of them carries a huge amount of organic manure, the smell of which is carried far and wide. The second carries a clean load, wrapped in plastic sheets. Some drivers bother to open windows and greet us. Next to the checkpoint is a garbage can filled to the brim with cartons that say 'dairy pillbox'. Probably the food is dairy, not the pillbox.

16:00 Barta'a-Reihan checkpoint, Palestinian side

The guard lets us into the crowded parking lot. We park somehow. The cafeteria stands in place, and in the shed in front of it an older man sells large bags of peanuts in their shells. Someone has spread a prayer rug on the synthetic grass. A young man barred entry by the police asks for help. We give him the note with Sylvia's phone numbers and wish him success.

16:20 We leave the checkpoint and watch the crowds of workers coming down the sleeveinfo-icon on their way home, to the West Bank.