An especially difficult day.
09:30 Departure from Rosh Ha'Ayin.
10:00 Arrival at Dir Balut. We were supposed to begin a session with a group of women, as was agreed with them last week. The feeling is festive. To our surprise, a lad arrives from the council house and informs us that the women will not come. Without prior notification, without explanation. Nadim calls Nivin, the organizer. At first she is evasive. And bit by bit the truth is exposed: one of the council memebers opposes our activity and under his influence it was decided to cancel our activities.
How can such a step be explained? One reason which, as far as we are concerned, it is easier to digest is – "the conservative men don't want to expose the women to "modernity". A more difficult reason – "we don't need your favours". Be it as it may,the fact was that we were kicked out. Sad.
10:15 Departure for a tour.
As we had time on our hands, we decided to make it an expanded tour. We didn't imagine that we would find ourselves in the heart of a terrorist attack which would develop into Price Tag. On the way to the Tapuah junction we already saw more military vehicles that usual. At the junction itself. Near the bus station, there was a big gathering.
Policemen, soldiers, armed settlers. We approach and try to find out what has happened. It turned out that around 09:00 hrs a Palestinian fatally stabbed a settler from Yitzhar, snatched his weapons, and tried to get away. Soldiers shot at him and wounded him. He isn't around anymore, was evacuated by ambulance to the hospital.
A woman settler tells us assuredly that the assassin is from Kafr Yassuf, near Yitzhar. Later it transpires that he came from afar: from the village of Shwayka near Tul Karem (it may be hoped that at least for the moment Kafr Yassuf is saved from a retaliatory act…).
We tried to extract explanations: what led to the stabbing? After all it is not logical to assume that a person looking for revenge would choose such a long trail so far from his home (which makes his rescues in a hiding place more difficult) just in order to stab somebody? Just like that? What was the trigger that cause the violent outburst? Was there a prior acquaintanceship between them? What inflamed the atmosphere between the settler and the Palestinian prior to the stabbing?
We didn't get any answers to our querries. Will the investigators eventually try to find out whether the stabber had a motive? This remains to be seen.
While the military Zaka people (a religious organization of volunteers for finding and rescuing people injured in a disaster) perform their work, young people who fit according to their looks the description of the Youth of the Hills arrive from nowhere and the atmosphere becomes heated. One young man tries to shoo us away. "Who are you, are you the police?" we ask. And the answer, directed at Natalie is: "If you weren't a woman, I would crack your skull".
11:00 We leave. On the radio we hear the details of the event. Military jeeps patrol along the road. Every 100-200 meters there is a group of soldiers who block with spikes vehicles which drive in the direction of the Tapuah intersection. We, driving in the opposite direction. Pass without being checked.
All along the way, at the entries to each village, there are road blocks. Nobody can enter or leave. We arrive at Huwwara. Surprisingly the main road is lively. But in sporadic conversations with people it transpires that they are aware of the going-ons: "There is a mess". And indeed there is.
Ambulances pass with sirens, driving at high speed in both directions. And that's the reason: at the exit from Huwwara, at the roadside, there is a parked bus which drove girl pupils from their school. The front window is smashed. Wounded girls are transferred by ambulance for medical treatment. The price tag has begun its activities.
At the order of the border policemen we turn around and go in the opposite direction. Large groups of settlers, some of whom are armed, are seen along the road. How did they manage to pass through the police and army checkpoints??
12:30 Back to Rosh Ha'Ayin, to another reality, to another country. The news announce that the price tag activities which we witnessed are only the beginning.
The Palestinian Jordan Valley
The heat in the Valley reaches 36 degrees centigrade.
Brutality of military maneuvers – again, 200 families Palestinian are evacuated from their homes for 24 hours.
Fires are started by the army to prevent Palestinians from grazing their flocks.
Maale Efrayim Checkpoint
Unmanned in the morning, manned in the afternoon.
Passengers remain in the cars as they cross in both directions. This is a significant relief in the horrendous heat that has descended on the Jordan Valley these days. But the cars are inspected, one by one, even when Nablus-bound, driving into Palestinian-controlled areas.
Forced evacuation – the suffering inflicted upon hundreds of humans as a result of the Israeli army’s war games is indescribable, and intended apparently to make them leave. About 200 families received evacuation orders from today at 6 p.m. until tomorrow at 4 p.m. All the areas near the road leading to Tyassir and the Checkpoint – Al Maleh, part of En Al Hilwa, and the area east of Alon Road (no. 578), Samara, as well as Ras Al Ahmar – west of the Alon Road, parallel to Bekaot.
These days are sizzling hot. The Palestinians say “Al diniya nar” – The world is on fire. The sun bakes the earth and one can hardly breathe. And out of all possible days, now is the time they choose to expel people – women, the elderly, sick people, and children, along with their livestock – from their homes, to sit without any shelter in the sun for a whole night and a day. This isn't the first time – in recent months, inhabitants of Al Maleh and Ras al Ahmar have been evacuated every two weeks. But this time,
because of the extreme heat, is particularly brutal. The Palestinians watch many of their sheep to die.
It is hard to view this misery and the fear of what awaits them in these 24 hours. They clasp their hands and repeatedly ask, “Shu binsawi?” What are we to do? Some hours before the evacuation, we sit wi
th the elderly couple who in January, and before that in December, lost their home to the army’s demolition action – and we have no words for them.
I have contacted the OCHA office and was told they know and have tried to persuade the army to let
the people stay, but in vain. They will bring the people water!
The novelty now is that Palestinians east of the road, in Samara, were also evacuated. The army told them it intended to fire from there towards the western side of the Alon Road. And we ask – if it’s dangerous to the point that people have to be evacuated from their homes, will the road be closed off too, the road that serves mainly Jewish settlers? Or do Jews have some kind of intrinsic special protection?
The single consolation is that the army has created an opening in the dirt dyke that separates the Jordan Valley from the hilly West Bank area, in order to deploy tanks and troops westwards from the Alon Road, and contact between the inhabitants of Hadidiya, Humsa and Makhoul and their life-center in the West Bank is now totally open.
North of the Jewish settlement Ro’i we saw an charred area of a few hundred square meters, around the army base “Sea’ra”. On our way back we witnessed the mountain southeast of Hamra Checkpoint in flames – a huge, thickly smoking fire (we were told it has been on fire for the past three days). Around the Jewish settlement of Mekhora we also saw hundreds of square meters up in flames, up to the periphery of the settlement and its fruit tree groves, as far as the eye can see. All is black, the color of the arsonists’ soul. Evidently these are controlled fires where the safety of the settlements and army camps are well looked after. The army is burning all of these areas in order to prevent Palestinians from letting their flocks graze. As if stealing all their water and denying them the possibility of tilling their fields were not enough. As if it were not enough to deny them access to most of their lands. Herds of sheep and goats are these farmers’ last resort, but the grazing area is meager and as the summer desiccates it, the Palestinians wander on and on in search of a bit of greenery. But the occupier will not grant them even this, and burns the sparse vegetation in order to prevent even this minimal source of existence. (see photos).
Translator: Charles K.
Southern Hebron Hills
We went through the Meitar checkpoint at 10:30, toward Umm Faqra on Highway 317 which is deserted. On the way we saw settlers hanging a very large sign at Carmel: The new neighborhood will be built here soon (for Obama’s visit?). The roads are empty all the way to Hebron.
Two serious incidents in Hebron, at the Cave of the Patriarchs checkpoint:
A settler throws coffee at a Palestinian and flees. The Palestinian starts chasing him, and in response to shouts from the settlers the soldiers chase the Palestinian and politely ask him to calm down. The Palestinian then approaches the soldier to explain what happened, the soldier apologizes, says he didn’t see the settler throwing coffee, and that’s why he simply tried to calm things down.
A settler in a white car sped past the checkpoint and hit a 4 year old Palestinian boy, injuring his right leg. We called the police; by the time they arrived (in 3-5 minutes) a paramedic had recommended an x-ray. The police officer handled matters politely and conscientiously; he contacted the Red Crescent to continue treatment.
Since no one had recorded the license number of the car the police will examine security camera recordings at the time of the incident to identify the vehicle’s owner.
‘Abed is worried about the difficult economic situation, and about Abu Mazen who isn’t looking out for his people, and about Hamas creating tensions.
Translator: Charles K.
We paid a condolence call in Dura Al Fawwar.
Mahmoud Tamimi, age 22, was shot and killed by the army during the uproar in the center of Dura Al Fawwar, in Area A, one afternoon last week. He hadn’t thrown rocks. Area A is a Palestinian area; what were our forces doing there?
We received an emotional phone call telling us how important it would be to visit them…
My answer to the question of why it’s any of our business - “So Palestinians will see a different kind of Israeli…” – was manifested today, for we’ll all part of a single human fabric.
We drove through the winding lanes of the refugee camp and reached the family’s home. A teacher from the school who speaks a little Hebrew accompanied us. They brought us to the women’s area; we sat there for an hour and a half, silently, in tears.
Mahmoud’s aunts and mother are dressed in black, all the younger and older girls are angry and mourning. Their only consolation is that he was killed for a just cause: “Liberating Palestine.”
But why, why, why…
We have no words to describe the great sorrow.
The itchy trigger finger forgets that we’re all – every one of us – human beings.
Translator: Charles K.
We left Beersheba at 08:30.
Highway 60: Dense traffic. Many trucks with building material, some with Palestinian license plates.
Hebron: Deserted; all checkpoints are quiet. We left the car at the giant parking lot near Beit Hamachpela and went to the Farcha school for girls which is right next to the building. The principal welcomed us warmly; she said that at the moment there are no particular problems, the army doesn’t bother them – in fact, the opposite is true: if there are problems with settlers the army arrives to help. The settlers’ children spit at them; they must remove their jewelry at the checkpoint, including wedding rings, to go through the magnemometer. But otherwise the crossing goes smoothly even though sometimes bags are checked, including the children’s, in a very intrusive manner. The surrounding buildings facing the schoolyard are protected by netting against any eventuality. The school is well cared for and clean. Everything’s great!
Back to Beersheba via Highway 317 and the village of Al Tawwani.
The usual problems: harassment by settlers, delays in the military escort for the children. There’s an activity on Saturday – erecting a tent to protect the children from the weather while they wait for the military escort. We asked whether that won’t lead to trouble from settlers – Nasser shrugged. They planned to organize transport for the children, but “the settlers objected.” He thinks all the organizations working in Tawwani should coordinate among themselves to improve conditions. But there’s a ray of light: a sewer line is being installed thanks to donations from abroad.
Everything’s quiet and normal, but Mahmoud el Titi from Al Fawwar was killed in the evening from live fire during a demonstration. The army announced that the soldiers felt their lives were in danger from Molotov cocktails. Four other youths, aged 16-20, were injured during the same incident.
Translator: Charles K.
Photos from the archives:
1. The remnants of an encampment belonging to a family with five children that the IDF demolished, October, 2012.
2. An earthen berm blocking Jordan Valley Bedouin from moving westward.
3. The Gochia checkpoint – a locked iron gate in the middle of nowhere blocking a dirt road used by Jordan Valley Bedouin.
Tomorrow (4.3.13) the army will conduct maneuvers in the Hamam el-Malih area. All the residents were ordered to evacuate their encampments for 24 hours with their children, the elderly and their flocks. In other words – they were sent to spend the night outdoors. It’s very cold in the Jordan Valley during this time of year. This is a new phenomenon in recent months in the northern Jordan Valley. It happened to the residents of Hamam el-Malih about a month ago; tomorrow will be the second time.
Only 3% of the complaints submitted by Palestinians to the police eventually come to court. The remaining 97% of the cases are closed, even when there is incontrovertible evidence. Thus the State’s Attorney collaborates with the police, backing the racist policies as part of what’s known as “justice for all” and “equality before the law.” That’s what we learned from “Yesh Din,” which has been following up on the vicious beating last year of M., a member of the D family, last year by D., the military security coordinator of the Rotam settlement.
11:15 Za’tara checkpoint – Tapuach junction
Two loaded trucks detained in the plaza. Another commercial vehicle has been detained and is being checked by a dog. ID cards are taken for inspection. The driver of the commercial vehicle has (apparently) been sent for interrogation by the Shabak on the other side of the white wall at the northwest side of the plaza. An additional car was detained while we were there.
We’ve already seen delays and interrogations of young men at this junction a few times, and heard from those interrogated that the Shabak tried to recruit them.
We gave a ride to a hitchhiker who was born in the Gitit settlement (established in 1975). He said his parents, secular people from Tel Aviv, were sent by state institutions to settle there, were given a house and land at no cost, along with all they needed to farm. He doesn’t view himself as a settler, and it’s clear to him that the Jordan Valley must remain part of Israel forever, for security reasons. We asked about the price of water: NIS 6 /cubic meter for household use, NIS 2 for agriculture. For comparison: K., the Bedouin, pays NIS 20 per cubic meter for water which he gets from water tankers, not via pipes. In Israel we pay more than NIS 9 per cubic meter for household use.
The fields of Gitit settlement, which are worked by two Israelis (one from Tel Aviv and one from Tayibeh) are covered with plastic sheeting. A spectacular sight.
12:30 Hamra checkpoint
A settler from Hamra followed us to the checkpoint, photographed us from every angle and cursed us rudely. Two reservists from the checkpoint came over to see what the trouble was and he disappeared.
13:00 Tayasir checkpoint
Reservists here as well. Very sparse traffic.
The K. family
The four families from Hama el-Malih whose encampments were demolished last month are still living out in the open or in improvised sheds far from their previous place of residence.
About a year ago M., one of the family members, was terribly beaten by D., the Rotem settlement’s military security coordinator, and was hospitalized for two days. A complaint was submitted to the police, with the help of Yesh Din. It now transpired that the police closed the case even though there were witnesses to the beating.
A few months later that same military security coordinator shot and killed three of K’s cows and buried them. They called the police, which found the slaughtered cows. There were witnesses to this incident as well, and this case was also closed.
Yesh Din told us that’s what usually happens, that only 3% of the complaints submitted by Palestinians to the Israeli police reach the courts. The police and the State’s Attorney collaborate to ignore Palestinian complaints against Jews. Racism has penetrated every organ of the Israeli regime. Jurists are also part of the rot. Yesh Din plans to appeal the closing of the case involving the beating. It will take two years for the appeal to come before a judge.
We gave a ride to a laborer who’d finished working for the day in the Ro’i settlement. He earns NIS 85 for an 8-hour day (about half of the Israeli minimum wage), with no benefits. NIS 10 goes for transportation. Since the residents of the settlements are Israeli citizens, Israeli labor laws apply to them, including minimum wage laws, but who’ll enforce them? And so the Israbluff about the only democracy in the Middle East continues. It’s not surprising that the settlers hold on to what they’ve got – where else could they get such wonderful conditions? Even workers from Thailand are paid more.
16:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
No soldiers here at this hour either.
Translator: Charles K.
14:04 Curve 160, Hebron
We stopped because we saw a gathering of paratroopers, Border Police, police, including officers, a police vehicle, a settler vehicle, two settlers. One of the settlers said shots had been fired at the checkpoint. Those present appeared to be engaged in consultations or an investigation. We waited. The senior paratrooper, Avi, the Hebron brigade commander (religious), said he’d explain to us what was going on after he completed the investigation. He also questioned the settler off to the side, who seemed to have been an eyewitness. Then the settlers drove away in their vehicle. It turned out that a Palestinian youth set off about 30 fireworks directly toward the checkpoint from between the concrete barriers along the side. The brigade commander was very critical of the way the force at the checkpoint behaved – “they didn’t try to make contact; they should have gotten him.” I said to him, grinning, that it was probably because there were no female soldiers there… He also said that a police vehicle that passed by also didn’t catch the shooter. Bottom line – a failure. We should note that Palestinians kept going through the checkpoint during the investigation. We also note that everyone involved behaved politely toward us, except for one of the policemen – maybe the one who’d just been reprimanded by the brigade commander.
14:30 Tel Rumeida
A conversation with Issa Amru, the Palestinian who runs a neighborhood cultural center in the building above Beit Rumeida. He’s an electrical engineer; he teaches courses dealing with electricity. Issa is a model of non-violent resistance to the occupation by, among other things, strengthening Palestinian civil society. Michael, Tzipi’s son, lived and worked there with him for a while.
The building belongs to a family holding a blue ID card which has a house in East Jerusalem; they moved there at the beginning of the second intifada. The army turned the house into a fortress for a while. After the army left, settlers entered, but the building was in very poor condition and not habitable despite their wish to take possession of it. Finally Issa rented it from the owner, but the settlers didn’t let him move in; he received legal assistance from Michael Sfarad, the attorney. The driver transporting the settlers’ children was caught in the yard with a gun; he’d planned to fire into the building. The water pipes were sabotaged, a couch was set on fire, abusive graffiti was sprayed on the walls, rocks thrown. Boys and girls once exposed themselves before the residents, claiming that if the onlookers are gentiles the Torah permits.
Hebrew classes for women are offered there, at the women’s request, and also English classes. Na’ama, from Psychoactive, comes from Jerusalem to teach. Friendships have developed, including mutual family visits. There are spare time activities for children, doll-making. There are classes in still and video photography, how to upload to Facebook, to document their daily lives, their dreams, not only the problems with soldiers and settlers. Palestinian volunteers teach journalism courses to activists. The Association for Civil Rights helps teach legal subjects such as the rights of detainees – Limor Yehuda and Gabi Laski. They show films. Girls learn English, and also the samba (drumming, not dancing…)
The security forces back up the settlers: the land adjoining Beit Romano is privately owned by a Palestinian, the settlers are nevertheless building there and the new structure completely blocks an adjacent Palestinian house. It’s no surprise; why, in the base on the main road soldiers and settlers live together. Issa reminds us that, according to international law, civilians living in the base become legitimate military targets. The settlers at Tel Rumeida regularly violate Israeli law. They raise horses and other animals, plant crops and trees and refuse to leave the Al-Bakri house despite a High Court order. The army and police claim they’re unable to stop them. The security forces’ support of the settlers explains the recent decrease of settler violence against Palestinians – they don’t have to be violent as in the past because the security forces are essentially doing what they ask.
The powerlessness of the police: Only two policemen, with one vehicle, are stationed in Hebron, in the area for which Israel has full responsibility. The Palestinians know that the policemen stationed in Hebron keep requesting transfers. An Arabic-speaking policeman told Issa that the police are not allowed even to issue citations to settlers for traffic violations – driving without lights, transporting more than the permitted number of children, not wearing seat belts, speeding, etc. And the police certainly don’t defend the Palestinians even though they’re fully subject to Israeli sovereignty. Saturdays and Jewish holidays are the worst times – performances, thefts, uprooting trees. Even when the settlers invaded the building they call Beit HaMachpela, the police claimed they didn’t see anything.
The case of the spring below Tel Rumeida: Anat Cohen had dreamed it was a holy site and the settlers continue to take it over and build around it despite the Turkish land registry ownership document possessed by the Palestinian owner of the land. His complaints to the police about trespassing do no good. When he tried to dismantle what the settlers had built the police made him put everything back and submit another complaint.
The case of the Abu Ayesha family: They used to live in Beit Hadassah. Before 1929 they were partners with Jews in a business making yogurt. During the riots they protected their Jewish neighbors and other Jews, and the account of their heroism appears in Sefer Hevron. Instead of receiving gratitude they were forced out of their home to Tel Rumeida, but the settlers took that over as well and their home is fenced for protection like a cage. Their story became known when they photographed a female settlers yelling “bitch” through the window bars at the woman of the house. The old man still living with them says he knows Jews; these settlers aren’t Jews… His sons, who live elsewhere, aren’t able to visit him without a special permit. Nor are they even able to obtain a permit to renovate the crumbling interior of the old house. Another family that saved Jews in 1929 is convinced that the settlers, not Hamas, are the ones destroying the state of Israel.
The importance of video documentation: Channel Two accompanied Baruch Marzel’s election campaign in Hebron (he was number 3 on the “Otzma LeYisrael” list). Issa ridiculed him before the cameras for not dressing in a dignified manner as befitting a Knesset member. Marzel invaded Issa’s home and hit him in the face. The video showing that Issa didn’t even hit him back wasn’t any help – the police backed Marzel and accused Issa of attacking him even though the police know him and are aware he never behaves violently. In another incident, when soldiers were jogging as usual in Hebron, a Palestinian was arrested because it was claimed he hit the soldiers; he spent a month in jail until the judge agreed to watch a video documenting the incident that proved the soldiers had beaten him, not the opposite – and although the man was released the soldiers weren’t punished. Another incident: One day Issa went through a checkpoint and a soldier called him a “motherfucker.” Issa berated him, saying that unlike the curses he gets from settlers, who are private individuals, a soldier in uniform represents the state. The argument with the soldier got worse when Rav Levinger’s daughter-in-law happened to come by and accused Issa of sexual harassment. A crowd gathered, the Nahal commander in Hebron pushed him against the wall and threatened him. Issa told him he’s recording everything on his cellphone, and everything’s being recorded on video. Issa was arrested and insisted on providing the evidence – the cellphone recording – only to a policeman, not a soldier. But the policeman gave the cellphone to the soldier who erased the recording. The military police investigation of the incident will probably take forever.
The “security requirements” excuse is a lie: Fact, Marzel entered Issa’s house to hit him, knew there were many men in the house; had he feared for his safety he wouldn’t have done so. Another example: When Dov Hanin came to Hebron as part of his Knesset election campaign, Issa wanted to march with him in the street. The police didn’t let him. He walked in parallel instead on the wall of the Moslem cemetery bordering the street and called down to them from above – Where am I more dangerous? When I’m above you, or when I’m walking beside you?
We returned via Tel Rumeida. We saw the neighboring Palestinian house that the settlers didn’t succeed in taking over; they’re “only” throwing garbage into its yard. Next door is the house the settlers did manage to take over and aren’t leaving despite the High Court decision, and then the caged-in Palestinian home whose residents, the descendants of the Righteous Gentiles from 1929, live in fear every day. A bored Border Police soldier up the road plays with two settler toddlers, teaching them to climb a fence and giving them marching drills.
16:15 Below the Eshtamoa outpost we see construction underway to expand the settlement. Then a caravan of decorated Palestinian cars drives toward us, apparently celebrating the release of Palestinian inmates. A van with Palestinian license plates passes, slogans in Hebrew – Shalom Haver, Ahava LaNetzah. The flow of laborers returning from Israel flows through the Meitar crossing; a bustling vegetable market awaits them on the other side on their way home.
Summary: more house demolitions, more life destruction, “voluntary transfer”
11:45 – Ma’ale Efrayim Checkpoint – unmanned.
12:15 – Hamra Checkpoint is manned by reserves soldiers. Two of them approach us as soon as we appear at the junction. They are friendly to us. From the Palestinians we hear they are much less friendly to them… A Palestinian with whom we conversed was then questioned at length and checked by the same soldiers as he wanted to cross the checkpoint Nablus-bound.
So far, and for a long time, Palestinians on their way to Area A were not inspected here. They just had to wait for the soldier’s hand signal to advance and then crossed without any further ado. Now every third car is stopped, IDs are checked, doors opened, the cabin rummaged, crates are unloaded for inspection etc. The process is slow and waiting lines of over 8 vehicles accumulate during each such inspection.
Cars traveling from the hills of the West Bank down to the Palestinian Jordan Valley are inspected but there is no passage restriction – after all the passengers disembark and are forced to cross the checkpoint on foot. And provided no one is wanted for a “Shabak interrogation”.
Close until the next army maneuvers when some tank will crush it again.
House demolitions: we received a phone call informing us of demolitions which just took place in the Jiftlik village and at Hamam Al Maleh. In the Jiftlik 3 homes were destroyed and one animal shelter (according to OCHA reports).
At Hamam Al Maleh we met an elderly couple whom we have known for years now, standing helpless amidst torn plastic sheets and aluminum rods bent out of shape and useless, next to an empty square space that was obviously a dwelling, its earthen floor straight and neat. Now it’s empty. A week ago, on January 17th, there were massive home demolitions, among which the tent dwelling of the couple was destroyed. Their children have long since left the area, and two of them – a son and daughter – now live in Israel. Two days later, on Saturday, January 19th, the Occupation authorities imposed a closed military zone order for several days. After the order was rescinded, the Red Cross brought some tents to the site. Today, before we arrived, the army simply crushed and took the Red Cross tent and all of its contents – the scant possession of this elderly couple. So they wouldn’t be able to recover their lives, God forbid. It’s been hours, the couple stand next to the wreckage – no tent, no belongings, and apparently no one left to help them. The woman has visibly aged years in this recent week. Her arm is fractured (she fell) and very swollen. No money for medical care, nor for medication. How will they get through the freezing night without a roof over their heads or a mattress under their bodies?
Five months ago I was stuck next to this encampment – my car wouldn’t start, and I waited for two hours in the scalding heat of midday to be towed away. The whole time this same woman ran back and forth from the family's stove with a tea pot, begging me to drink so as not to get dehydrated. Now, I had no way of helping her in this predicament.
The typical sights of torn plastic and bent rods and piles of personal effects and papers are repeated time and again. But the bent back, the lost gaze, the tear in the corner of the eye are unbearable. You look for words of consolation, something encouraging, and find none, for you do not know what it’s like to suddenly find yourself exposed in the world, in summer heat or the frost of winter, aged or a child – the world stops and no one is there to help.
Next to the debris of this encampment, east of the stone house at Hamam Al Maleh is a new encampment. About10 tents and new sheep stalls. We inquire – there are some of those who were expelled from a higher site nearly in early January (see report of Jordan Valley of January 3rd, 2013) for a single night during a military maneuver, and decided to remain here where they camped, even after they were allowed to go back. Luckily, perhaps, because most of the encampments in the area of the maneuvers were destroyed by the army on January 17th.
On our way home we see numerous soldiers arriving at the area, disembarking from buses.
16:30 – Ma’ale Efrayim – unmanned.
Late addition: January 27th, 2013 – I receive a telephone call from X ( I have his name and telephone number) – two days ago metal stakes and other building materials were taken off a pickup truck traveling from the Tubas area. The soldiers threw them next to the entrance of the army base and they are still scattered there. No Palestinian dares approach and retrieve these rare materials.
Today the soldiers did not allow a resident of En Al Beda (northern Palestinian Jordan Valley) to cross with his tractor because he was carrying animal feed. They told him: Either leave the feed here or drive back to Tubas. And where would he get feed for his livestock? All the produce that the Valley inhabitants consume comes from the central West Bank.
13:50 The Habla gate was empty. It closes at 14:00. A sign posted on the gate tells when it’s open. It still closes at 17:30 in the evening.
14:50 Yitzhar/Huwwara junction. A flying checkpoint, a few soldiers standing up on the hill. We drove to the Huwwara checkpoint. It was manned; inspections were being conducted. A Palestinian vehicle was detained and its three passengers were made to get out and sit near the concrete blocks. We went over to see what was going on. The checkpoint commander approached us, said that the checkpoint is manned three times a day. He told us there was an order to detain the passengers in the car that was stopped; they’re suspected of throwing rocks. He added that there was a confrontation this morning between settlers and residents of Einabus.
15:05 We drove via Burin to the village of Madama, south of Burin, because I’d read in Al Itihad that there had been trouble with the settlers. An eyewitness told us that on Monday, 17.12, at nine in the morning, when a Palestinian family was on the way to plant trees on its land, settlers from Yitzhar came down, shot and wounded a brother and sister, and hit the two other brothers in the head with rocks. Soldiers arrived, beat the 65 year old brother with their rifle butts and arrested three other people. The settlers also beat and chased away the Palestinian shepherds who were there. The confrontations continued into the afternoon.
The Palestinians arrested are: Fawzi Zakariyya, Ramz Wissam, Mu’az Rizk. Mamun Amin was the eyewitness.
16:00 A flying checkpoint at the entrance to Beita.
Za’atara is manned, but no inspections are conducted.
16:25 Azzun Atma. Inspections are conducted for groups of five so the crossing flowed and there was no congestion.
16:35 We left.
Translator: Charles K.
Highway 317 is quiet. Will we have nothing to report again? Don’t worry; there’s never a dull moment.
Hebron also seems sleepy at 9 AM. But it only looks that way.
We drove to the beginning of the Worshippers’ Route, next to the memorial to Dror Weinberg and his men.
Written on the wall of a house: “When an Arab dies, I celebrate.” We’d photographed it in the past.
A man who lives there tells us what usually happens on Friday: Palestinian residents are forbidden to move about; only settlers are allowed to pass; soldiers are on the roofs and in the pillbox.
“What do you think about declaring a Palestinian state?”, we ask. When peace comes, God willing. He smiles.
No detainees at the checkpoints.
A squad of Nahal soldiers goes through the Pharmacy checkpoint to Area H1.
“Why did they cross?”, we ask.
A patient soldier hadn’t heard the briefing but is sure there’s a reason, maybe they’re looking for someone.
“I support the state,” he says.
“So do we,” we reply, “which is why we’re here.”
His questioning glance indicates he didn’t really understand what we meant, but he remains polite.
M., our driver, calls us back to the car because he heard on the “Voice of Palestine” station about a car set on fire and “Price Tag” graffiti in Dahariyya. We hurry to the car.
On our way out of the city we see another squad of soldiers, this time on the Worshippers’ Route, also going to H1 neighborhoods.
Something’s going on during this quiet morning in Hebron.
The balloon floats in the sky above .
We drove to the entrance to Dahariyya. Close to last month’s arson location there’s again a car burned next to a house.
Sprayed on a stone wall: “Price Tag! Congratulations to [illegible].”
Someone came to “celebrate” with the Palestinians.
The residents report that the wife heard the arsonists at 3 AM, but they didn’t see anything. Hagit notifies Ohad Hemo and sends photographs.
If there aren’t enough topics for the news reports, all Israel will hear of it.
The Israel police came and left a copy of the complaint and telephone contact numbers, if necessary.
They don’t really know what to do with it. Nor have we anything to add other than to explain what the documents are. More press photographers arrive, interview people and take pictures.
The chronicle of occupation. A chronicle of settler terror and violence.