Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 16.10.11, Morning
Gochiya checkpoint, which is opposite Beqaot settlement, is a metal bar blocking a dirt road in the Jordan Valley that prevents residents living in the eastern Jordan Valley from travelling freely to the western Jordan Valley and back again. This checkpoint, which is supposed to open only three times a week for half an hour (and usually doesn’t open at all), prevents residents living in the eastern Jordan Valley from accessing the town of Tamun, for example, which serves as a regional urban center. They’re prevented from maintaining contact with family members, obtaining medical treatment, getting to school and shopping, etc. Children from the eastern Jordan Valley are compelled to live during the week with families in Tamun to insure they are able to attend school regularly. The locals must make long detours, and risk severe punishment if they’re caught. In order to prevent them from bypassing the checkpoint, the IDF dug a series of long, deep ditches around the checkpoint and created very high earthen berms.
*We have been told that security official of Maskiyot colony drives his vehicle wildly though a Bedouin encampment. He topples down the tent dwelling of a 90-year old man. Is this another harassment of Bedouins living near the colony, who are afraid to ?complain
*Gochia Gate is not opened. This happens maby times. Thus, tractors to the west of Alon Road are denied passage. Unlike them, colonists’ mini-tractors bypass this gate without any problems, and not for any work purposes but for simple fun.
*The Tyassir checkpoint commander helped us out with our car at a difficult moment.
11:30 Tapuach Junction Checkpoint
Manned with soldiers checking vehicles coming from Huwwara Checkpoint (Nablus).
No waiting line.
11:40 Qusra Village
There have not been any exceptional events this past week. Today is the first day of the olive harvest. School children are off and we see whole families harvesting their olive trees all along the way.
12:05 Maale Efrayim Checkpoint - No soldiers in sight.
12:20 Hamra Checkpoint
No vehicles seen at the checkpoint. A single truck carrying vegetables comes from the west. We did not stay.
Mekhora colony has largely expanded its farming area, both with fruit groves and with fields freshly plowed for the sowing season.
At Kadri’s, below Maskiyot colony:
At the foot of the hill occupied by Maskiyot is a small spring where the shepherds used to water their flocks as they return from their grazing areas. Among other forms of harassment practiced by the Maskiyot colonists against their Bedouin neighbors, they also chase the shepherds away from the water source. One should note that Maskiyot have no flocks and this is not a battle over water, especially since all the Jewish colonies receive cheap water from Mekorot (National) water company, while the Bedouins must purchase and transport water at least ten times more expensive. So this is pure harassment. There was a time when the shepherds were too afraid to approach the spring. Two days ago, apparently, someone did bring his flock to the water and then, as we have been told, the colony’s security official – arrived and began to drive amok with his vehicle. He entered the tent of the family’s grandfather – 90 years old – and destroyed it, then drove wildly around the sheep pen.
Every time we visit this encampment we hear about Maskiyot settlers’ harassment,and especially by Rami. The army authorities in this area must be backing him up and he takes the liberty to do as he pleases. The Bedouins are too afraid to lodge complaints. When they did dare to do so, local army officials backed him up. Thus too in the spring instance, as well as a case where he demanded that a family living near the colony be expelled. No doubt it is the colonists’ interest to distance the Palestinians living nearby. The land is registered officially under the name of the family living on it, so that the colonists apparently want to terrorize them away. And the army? Perhaps it shares their interests?
We were told there of another incident: 3 camels belonging to a Bedouin living around Jericho had run off. 3 days later they were found in the olive groves of Rotem Colony. The local security official summoned the police. He claimed the camels had damaged his fruit grove. The policeman (Nissim) arrived and demanded the Bedouin owner of the camels pay a fine of 1300 NIS, without any court proceedings, or else he’d be detained at the Maale Efrayim police station. The man is scheduled for trial. A penniless Bedouin who certainly has no funds to pay for a lawyer will stand trial in an Israeli court, sued by the colony and its lawyers (whom it can afford) – there is no official body that can come to his aid. He speaks no Hebrew, knows nothing of Israeli legal proceedings, and all this assuming (wrongly?) that the court would treat both parties equally.
Another face of Israeli Occupation.
While we were there, Aref Darajma arrived, head of the local authority of the Northern West Bank.
14:15 Tyassir Checkpoint
Here, too, there was hardly any traffic today. Just an occasional vehicle now and then. When we needed to leave, we couldn’t get our car started. An unpleasant situation…
We sought help from the checkpoint commander, a second lieutenant, who willingly assisted. After a few attempts on his part and another soldier’s, the engine yielded and we drove off.
15:00 Gochia Checkpoint
As often happens lately, at least ever since the combat demolition corps men have manned this area, the checkpoint was not opened. We called Zaharan of the DCO. He spoke with whoever he needed to, and was told that a jeep was sent to open the gate, but the jeep never arrived. In other words, he was lied to.
For several months now the Bedouins do not come to this gate because no one opens it for them even in the officially allotted opening times – for half an hour twice a day three times a week. On the other hand, a pack of 4 fancy mini-tractors, such as affluent suburban Israeli kids would be proud to flaunt, bypassed the gate without any hesitation. The machines and the boys with their helmets and brand sports wear. The good life of the settler kids, indeed, contrasted with the dire poverty of the surrounding population. Would they have been prosecuted too for bypassing the gate?
16:00 Maale Efrayim Checkpoint - Unmanned.
16:15 Tapuach Junction Checkpoint - Vehicles coming from Huwwara are checked. 4 cars waiting in line. Soldiers spread a barbed wire roll along the middle of the roundabout for some unclear reason.