Spotlight highlights Checkpoint events characteristic of the policy of the occupation: the systematic repudiation of basic human rights in the occupied territories. For Palestinians, reality is a complicated tangle of problems (survival in the everyday, education, health, making a living…) that cannot be solved because the Israeli occupation is conducted by enforcing countless inhuman bans. The Spotlights rely on collections of relevant reports from the field.
Drawing Water with Joy?
Nablus Checkpoints, Saturday, 30.6.07 AM
Observers and Reporters: Vivy T. and Hava H.
Translation: Hanna K.
Following Arik Asherman's request we meet at Beit Furik the two hidden righteous men – Uri Pinkerfeld and Buma Inbar, and accompanied them almost the entire day.
The aim was to observe, and if need be defend the harvesters from Saalem. It turned out that the harvesters had already finished harvesting, but there was still much to do. It is one thing to see the vice-grip of the checkpoints, the changing bureaucratic instructions, the Apartheid road, the wall between the villages and the agricultural plots, a deep ditch which dissects the valley in the midst of the fields, and the Madison axis which dissects the plots into three almost non-navigable slices – under the courtesy and patronage of the Israeli Defence Forces – and another thing is to see the people who live under the grip of this evil, and to talk to them – and this is what we saw on this Saturday.
The people of Salem, Dir el Hatav, Azmut, Beit Dajan and Beit Furik have almost no water sources of their own, most of their fields and pasture plots are on the other side of the road called the Madison axis which they are forbidden to cross – not to talk about driving on road no. 60, and they have some sheep and goats.
These animals don't understand anything about bureaucratic regulations and settlements, but they want to drink water. This water is the subject of the report.
While Uri transfers to his own car jerrycans of olive oil from another car (which in its youth was a taxi, but now, in its dilapidated state, without permit and no insurance, it serves as the vehicle of Abu Zakky, the liaison man of Uri and Buma. But don't underestimate it – it is capable of actions of extraordinary valor) – we talked with the farmer in the adjoining filed. He works a plot of a little less than three dunams, and after the harvest and the threshing he is left with 65 sacks of grains. Half of this amount belongs to the land owners (who live in Jordan) and the rest to him. He naturally also uses the leftover reeds, collects them all and brings them home to feed the sheep. It was a short, simple conversation, without occupation, without complaints, next to the adjoining plot where corn seedlings are growing. No, this is not his plot, and no, this is not corn for eating, for this one needs a lot of water (water – for the second time) but for the productions of brooms. At the end of our conversation he implored us to wait just a moment, to allow him to bring and offer us very good cucumbers which he grows in a plot next to his home, very near , here it is! Where are there still other people like this man?
Our first assignment was to meet the shepherd whom they shot at this morning, and then beat up because he crossed the Madison axis with his herd, and then they extracted evidence from him.
Nobody contests the fact that those are lands privately owned by Palestinians, but the IDF, working in the service of the settlers of Alon Moreh, forbids them to cross the road that passes between the villages and the fields, all in the name of security, of course. IDF watches over the route, and whenever a shepherd crosses it with his herd - they appear there with their jeep, rifles and blows, and there is no reason to hurry especially – the sheep don't understand the orders of the major general. Abu Zakky, who led us over dirt tracks to the fields and the well, changed his address from Saalem to Beit Dajan, so that he should be able to graze his herd on the other side of the Apartheid road. He passes at the Beit Furik CP with a taxi which seems any moment to fall to pieces, and thus will finally achieve respite.(Abu Zakky insists that there is no problem to change one's address at the Palestinian DCO). A military patrol caught his brother's wife on the road with the herd, confiscated her ID card and then she was detained for two and a half hours at the CP.
We met the shepherd who crossed the Madison route with his herd, on his way to the well. This morning, just like that, according to a normal practice, the soldiers shot at him with live ammunition, beat him up just a little (so that he should learn) threw him on the ground and took him and his herd back to the Western side. The fact that the sheep must drink is none of their business. Buma and Uri the two righteous men – this is exactly why they are there – and all of us, as well as Abu Zakky, the shepherd and his herd we all crossed the field of thorns which was decorated at its ends with a thin, light chain of kurkum flowers, crossed the road and went together to the "well". The sheep went to drink, and we got tea and shade. The pumping station was built with the monies of an American donation. Said, who is responsible for the station, told us about his son, who is a life-prisoner at the Beer Sheva prison, about the hardships of the visits at the prison, and the disgrace of having to plea at the late hours of the night, in spite of the Red Cross patronage, that the Beit Furik CP be opened, and they be let to go home. The CP is closed at ten P.M. and when the busses approach the CP, after their long way to Beer Sheva and back, the soldiers immediately begin shooting (after all, what do they have to do in a bus that approaches the CP after ten at night?)
Muhamed too came. He too has a small herd, he too was caught treading on the road, his ID card too was confiscated by the soldiers, he too was told to come and get it back at the Beit Furik CP.
Big tankers drive the whole day from the "well", through the Beit Furik CP, and bring water to Saalem, a bypass of over half and hour. (water for the third time)… In the past they got water from "Mekorot", but now most of the water is directed to Alon Moreh, and the stream that reaches Saalem is thin and insufficient. But the water is not sufficient for the inhabitants of Alon Moreh either, they want more: East of Alon Moreh, a few hundred meter from the gate of the settlement, there is a stream called Ma'ayan Kabir. It belongs to Dir El Hatav. A pipelines leads from the stream to the village and is collected there in a small pool which supplies (more or less) the domestic requirements of the inhabitants (water for the fourth time). Recently the settlers of Alon Moreh have dog a small pool near the pipeline, cut the pipeline and transferred the water to their pool, so that the children should have something to play with in the vacation, and perhaps it will be possible to open a small amusement park, after all it is known how important education is for the children of the settlers. Following the intervention of Buma and Uri the pipeline was mended and its waters again flowed to Dir El Hatav, but not for long…Recently the pipeline was cut again, and again its waters flow to the amusement pool of Alon Moreh and again Buma and Uri go to shout at some brigade or battalion commander and try to return the water to its rightful owners.
At the Beit Furik CP again few people passed in a thin stream, but this time the injustice had a human face, because we saw them in their humanity, their patience and their hospitality – over sixty thousand people, and the CP is their only point of exit. Bottleneck is a too wide metaphor to use, and indeed only very few drizzle to the CP and from it. We waited there for Muhamad described in above. He came to ask for his ID card, indeed got it, and went on his way.