At the turn to Negohot construction works on the road by the “Heled” company, secured by military and police.
Breaking through of road at Wadi al-Husayn continues. More Palestinian lands are being taken for [the benefit of] Kiryat Arba and no rescue in sight. See the enclosed pictures. An utterly shameful symbiosis between the settlers and the military.
A major from “Givati” brigade arrives, apparently to give a briefing to the soldiers. The security person of kiryat Arba joins immediately and becomes part of the discussion, not before he takes pictures of us. When I introduced myself as Hagit and asked for his name, he replied: Vladimir Putin. If he can be with the soldiers, then so are we – we should listen to what the major says to them. I asked the major why the settler is allowed to attend the briefing whereas I am not. Initially he refused to answer, but then said: “He is from the Ministry of Defence”. I asked Vladimir Putin to show me his [military] identity card, according to the freedom of information law. Of course it was not shown to me. “Go search for it in the garbage, that’s what you are!”.
The officers of the international police sat in a distance and watched the happenings. A., from “B’Tselem” [The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories], walked around with his camera and a few Palestinians watched the happenings, the bulldozers and the measure takers.
The kids of Hebron hang around in the streets and M., our driver, says: Now, during the vacation things are going to happen, the kids are bored.
Up on Tel Rumeida an ambulance arrives at one of the houses. Only Palestinian ambulances are allowed to drive on this apartheid road. And even that can only be done after a lot of coordinations. It takes the body of a deceased on a stretcher.
12:00 Tapuach checkpoint – unmanned but many uniforms seen in the car park next to the checkpoint itself.
12:20 Ma’ale Efrayim Checkpoint – unmanned. Nor was it manned at 17:00 on our way back.
13:30 – Bekaot (Hamra) Checkpoint – a long waiting line of 12 vehicles on the east side of the checkpoint, found for the West Bank hills. A soldier approaches us and asks “Who are you?” I answer politely and ask him about the checkpoint – and he turns his back and leaves. Totally ignoring my question. We sometimes encounter such crassness in soldiers, result no doubt of habits acquired during their army service – when one treats other humans as inferior creatures on a daily basis, this sense is entrenched in one’s consciousness.
However, nearly immediately the soldiers begin to allow the cars through and within minutes the line disappears. IDs are inspected in both directions, but passengers stay in the vehicles for the crossing, and the pedestrian crossing remains empty.
14:10 – Tyassir – slow passage, careful inspections in both directions, but the passengers remain inside the vehicles. Again, a soldier is sent to inquire who we are. About 20 minutes later an army jeep stops across the road from us. The driver comes over to chat. He is a Druze from Usfiya. Tells us about the repeated evacuations of Palestinians from their encampments in the area for the sake of army maneuvers. Says it’s a shocking sight. Just like the house demolitions taking place in the Jordan Valley. The sight of people remaining without a roof over their heads in the harsh weather conditions of this region. He is deeply moved, he said. Blames the Civil Administration that only wants to hurt and remove Palestinians. The soldiers are good, he says, it’s all the Administration’s fault. Well…
At the checkpoint, too, the soldiers are good now. They are there for 3 months. The ones before them made trouble, but the unit that mans the checkpoint at present is okay. Thus the soldier-driver. And he returned to his mates who waited for him in the jeep.
We paid a visit to our friend A. His children were scurrying among the sheep pens playing hide and seek and catch, laughing and making the kind joyful sounds that have long disappeared from the streets of my own neighborhood. The girls reluctantly went to milk the sheep and goats, and the parents sat with us along with a neighbor who dropped in. We are told that the water tanker that used to supply him and his neighbors with water - because Israel has blocked all their wells and does not allow them to pump any – was impounded at Hamra Checkpoint 2 days ago because it weighed half-a-ton more than the 15 ton allowance. How the soldiers at the checkpoint established the half-ton overweight is not clear. I have never seen a truck-scale at the checkpoint nor witnessed the weighing of trucks at the site. Police was summoned, the driver paid a 1700 NIS fine, and still the tanker is being held. In the meantime dozens of families are thirsting for water. Women, children, the elderly, the ill, all without water. And the weather is already heating up…
Translator: Charles K.
There were 42 participants and two guides (50 had registered; 8 cancelled prior to the tour).
We covered the “classic loop”: Highway 55 from Qalqilya, Highway 60 to Huwwara, Highway 5 to Elkana.
The Alfei Menashe seam zone, including the Habla gate checkpoint and the view from Alfei Menashe / Jayyus / Qadum / Huwwara checkpoint / Huwwara village / the Elkana seam zone including the Azzun Atma checkpoint and Hani’s home.
The tour left Tel Aviv at 11.15 and ended at 18.30.
We stopped on the Green Line near Qalqiliya, on the bridge over Highway 6. From there, near Alfei Menashe, we observed the fence blocking the villages of Ras a-Tira and Wadi Rasha from accessing their lands. We then continued to the Habla checkpoint / agricultural gate.
Although we arrived at the Habla checkpoint during the hours it was to have been open, we weren’t able to see it in operation. It was locked because the army hadn’t come to open it. We telephoned the DCO, who told us they were aware of the delay. Don’t worry, the soldiers will arrive. When? Not clear. We waited 20 minutes and left. And thus we experienced what happens to Palestinians at this supposed crossing.
Meetings with Palestinians:
We weren’t able to meet with Umar at the plant nursery in the seam zone (at the Habla gate) because it was Saturday. But the meeting with Na’im in Jayyus made a very strong impression, primarily because of his personality and the way he presented the information, “spiced” with personal and family stories, and in fluent Hebrew. He accompanied us along the fence and we saw his lands on the other side. We heard about arrests of youths at night, about intimidation and fear, about those blacklisted by the Shabak and the yearning for peace.
The meeting with Sakkar at Qadum was important in order to become acquainted with the fact that although the locality has no fence, he’s prevented from reaching his lands (there’s a virtual fence: starting at a particular post…). He’s also prevented by a checkpoint from reaching Nablus via the shortest route, which he used to take long ago. Because the settlement of Quedumim doesn’t want them nearby, a checkpoint was established (security).
We walked with Sakkar along the route the inhabitants take during their demonstrations – from the village center to that same post beyond which they know they’re not allowed to proceed. The path is black from tires burned by the residents during every demonstration in order to prevent the army from entering the village.
Even though the demonstration is non-violent the army fires tear gas and sprays stinking liquid at them, and sometimes employs dogs. That’s the ritual that’s been repeated every Friday after prayers for two years. Like at Bil’in.
We saw the Palestinian villages along Highway 60 (Asira Qabaliya, Madama and Burin), above whom, on the hills on both sides of the road, are the violent settlements that harass them and their olive groves – Gil’ad Farm, Beracha and Yitzhar (some say the area lives “between a blessing [Beracha] and a curse.”)
We didn’t stay at the Huwwara checkpoint because time was short. We only observed the empty terminal from the bus. A monument to the checkpoint which pointlessly tortured people for six years. Soldiers tried to move us away but we didn’t react because we hadn’t intended to stay in any case. The view from the bus, along with the stories, was enough.
Participants in the tour were amazed by the atmosphere in the village of Huwwara – as if the “conflict” never existed. Everyone was calm. Welcoming us, as is traditional among Palestinians. Falafel, coffee, and – as noted – the overall atmosphere made their effect felt. It’s an experience not to be missed.
We crossed through the Shomron crossing checkpoint without inspection.
And ”last but not least” – the Elkana seam zone:
The Azzun Atma checkpoint and Hani’s besieged home- the entire occupation in a nutshell.
Summary of the feedback we received:
Of the 42 participants (including two friends of ours who came with their families), we received the following responses to questions:
12 were interested in obtaining material from us
15 men and women expressed interest in joining us
15 didn’t respond
How did you hear about the tour?
16 – the ad in Ha’aretz
1 – the internet
10 – from friends (some of them via Ha’aretz)
1 – Psycho Active
Only 3 (unfortunately) from Machsom Watch members
From the feedback we received via email:
Thanks to Dalya for guiding this fascinating and very important tour.
Many Israelis should take a tour like this.
As I always say – Machsom Watch women are the country’s eyes.
Thank you, and best wishes
Buma Inbar 054-767 0511
And from the previous tour on 27.3 with the “Meretz” forum against the occupation
Thank you for the tour and your patient, professional guidance. Many of the participants told me they’d learned much that was new, and some included information from the tour and their praises on Facebook.
Thank you for yesterday’s excellent tour. Even for those participants well-acquainted with the political reality of Israel that life here has inured us to, and who are seemingly very familiar with the praxis of separation and the unbearable regime under which Palestinians in the occupied territories live, the tour was a must.
The tour was excellently planned and carried out. The wonderful and accurate tour leadership allowed participants to learn about the various complex issues which the Palestinians confront. Despite the feelings of anger and frustration accompanying a tour like this, we are proud of Machsom Watch, of its worthy activities on behalf of the Palestinians,but which are also on behalf of our own society.
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.
Our guest is a young theater person from the US travelling around Israel and the West Bank to record people and collect material for a play. As we cross the bridge over Highway 6 I point out the location of the Green Line, the 1967 border. A few hundred yards farther on we reach the turn to the Habla checkpoint, an agricultural gate open three times a week. What’s most annoying these days to people cultivating their land beyond the fence is that the gate opens very late in the afternoon when it’s already dark, and they’re forced to wait a long time after they’ve finished working in order to return home to Habla and Qalqilya.
12:45 Habla. While waiting for the gate to open, A. explains that all the surrounding lands belong to residents of Qalqilya and Azzun who must get special permits which are hard to obtainin order to reach their land. The separation fence has been built on part of their land, robbing them of a large area because it requires a strip 40-60 meters wide that cuts them off from their holdings. He mentions the village of A-Tira which had been in the Alfei Menashe enclave until the High Court ordered the fence route changed so it now adjoins their homes, cutting them off from some of their land. He believes both peoples have a right to their own country, but they also have the right not to be divided from one another.
13:00 Soldiers came to open the checkpoint. A woman from Habla and two young men from Qalqilya are waiting. One of the latter speaks a little Hebrew, explaining he works in the plant nurseries, arrives at 8 each morning, goes home in the afternoon. He earns NIS 70 a day, pays NIS 20 for transportation and NIS 10 for lunch, leaving him with NIS 40. He has no choice; even NIS 40 is more than he could earn in Qalqilya.
Little traffic in each direction, apparently because of the rain.
13:30 We continued toward Alfei Menashe; we showed our guest the new fence mentioned above that had been built so that Ras a-Tira would be located on the other side, and the big gates through which the villagers were supposed to cross, but they’re always shut (except, possibly, for a few days during the olive harvest season). Then, after briefly driving through Alfei Menashe, we reached Arab a-Ramadinto see whether the school is still standing. We saw the start of new construction, in addition to the three classrooms and teachers’ room. Because of the rain there was no one we could ask whether it was still in danger of being demolished.
14:00 Eliyahu checkpoint. No cars detained. They explained that the reason the checkpoint was placed here, a few kilometers from the border, was to take over Palestinian land and to make the residents of Alfei Menashe feel they’re in Israel.
Azzun: We visited Z., who was very glad for all we brought and was willing to be interviewed and tell his story. He had been strong and healthy and worked in construction until he was caught by the police without a permit to work in Israel; they beat him badly in the head and everywhere on his body even though he asked them to stop, that he’s not guilty of anything other than the need to work and support his wife and children. He was jailed for four months and despite his complaints wasn’t permitted to see a doctor. Since his released he’s been suffering from neurological problems that have prevented him from working. He’s been examined many times in Palestinian and Israeli hospitals but they haven’t yet discovered the cause of his illness. He also recounted the time that soldiers invaded his home, broke down the door to search for weapons and saw him trembling. When he explained that he wasn’t trembling out of fear, but because of illness, they told him that since he couldn’t work he was probably dealing in weapons. They came with dogs which frightened the children and defiled the refrigerator.
15:00 We drove to Jayyous to show the road passing under Highway 55, the main highway, on which Palestinians drive north to Tulkarm through all the villages.
We returned to Highway 55 heading east, then south via the settlement of Emanuel to Hars, the settlement of Ariel and the Za’tara/Tapuach junction. This time no soldiers were in position and traffic flowed freely.
16:00 Huwwara. Recently there have been reports that soldiers are stopping and inspecting cars heading toward Nablus. We saw no soldiers this time; cars went through in both directions without slowing. We explained how this large checkpoint far from the border with Israel, separating Nablus from the rest of the West Bank, once operated, forcing people to cross on foot after a long wait in congested lines, and how this “security requirement” that embittered the lives of thousands day after day for years suddenly, one day, simply vanished.
Translating – Naomi G.
Signs inviting one to come to Susiya are hanging on every wall. The event: an open day dedicated to accepting new settlers – Sukkot’s Holiday is a suitable time for hikers. The Palestinian parking lot is full of cars. The workers had already passed hours ago.
Road No. 60
The bulldozer next to Yehuda Brigade is idling.
At the Bani Naim junction they are keeping the “Grass Widow” procedure on the house in the junction. Soldiers are on the roof while two women are home alone. They show us the form certifying the occupation of the house till the 3rd of October. An Israeli flag is displayed on the top of the house and I don’t understand why they can’t position themselves on the hill next to the house. Why do they have to disrupt people’s lives? Whenever there is a Jewish Holiday – there is an ordeal for the Palestinians. One of the women tells us that the soldiers are behaving.
Today is an irregular Jewish Day. The only way to enter Hebron is by bus, private cars must be parked in Qiryat Arba. Judging by the number of the parking lots being prepared and by the multitude of policemen – they are expecting masses of visitors. We turn around and go back without entering Hebron.
Road 317, 356
We are once again invited to Susya. The memorial plaques on top of Ziv observatory were destroyed. At the grocery store at Yata, at the Zif Junction, we are told everything is fine. At Khirbet Tuwani they are adding a second floor to the school building, they relate to us the settlers’ harassments.
Translator: Charles K.
New crossing procedures at the JordanValleycheckpoints:
- For the past two months, residents of the West Bankare allowed to go through all the checkpoints in their own vehicles, except those on the blacklist or those wanted by the Shin Bet.
- The checkpoint commander may detain Palestinians for up to two hours.
- At the Hamra checkpointPalestinian citizens of Israelmay also cross on both sides.
Despite this relaxing of the restrictions, the checkpoints operate as usual and people still have to wait as long as before. The commander of the Hamra checkpoint himself said that the purpose of the checkpoints is to protect the handful of settlements in the area.
- Appropriation of Bedouin property continues. This time five cows were grabbed from a grazing herd belonging to the Darajmeh family. They were put in quarantine, and the herder was taken to the police station for “interrogation.”
Za’tara/Tapuach junction checkpoint – 11:15
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen cars coming from Huwwara being inspected. Seven vehicles wait in line. Five cars (with yellow license plates, of course) are parked in the fenced plaza, which is forbidden to Palestinians. We didn’t stay.
Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
No soldiers, nor when we returned.
The area cultivated by the settlers near the pumping station, between Gitit and Mekhora, is undergoing expansion. In previous years it was cultivated by a resident of the Na’ama settlement, in the southern JordanValley. Many new plowed fields. Sowing is underway in some of them. All are irrigated. They’re also beginning to use the packing house again, which had been abandoned.
Hamra checkpoint – 11:45
We talked to the checkpoint commander about the changes in arrangements for crossing permits. He explained that the purpose of the inspections is to prevent the entry of terrorists or explosives (by putting those crossing and their belongings through the scanner) in order to protect the settlements in the area. He wasn’t aware that the JordanValleyis not part of Israel. He lives in Jerusalemand seems to have successfully completed the usual Israeli educational process without incident.
A visit to A.’s encampment
There are two guests from Tubas. A., who’d apparently grazed his herd near the Kfir military base, saw people loading 5-6 cows onto a vehicle. He thought they’d been stolen. Later Border Police soldiers came and took him to the Ma’aleh Efrayim police station, leaving the remaining cows with no one to watch them. They sat him down there without explaining why he was arrested. We called the police station. No one answered. We tried three more times, and then called Majid at the DCO. He looked into it and said the cows had been taken by the Israeli authorities (the Civil Administration?) because they’d been abandoned with no herder (!), and placed in quarantine. Now, of course, the owner will be asked to redeem them at considerable expense. A., the herder (who they claimed hadn’t been there) was “only” taken for interrogation (Majid emphasized – only for interrogation, he wasn’t arrested, and when the interrogation is over he may return home). What will they interrogate him about? He doesn’t know, of course. Meanwhile the cows were abandoned, as was the horse he rode.
We drove with one of the brothers to look for the horse where they thought it had last been located, but didn’t find it. Later the brother went to look for the cows. Here’s another example of something that’s been going on for many months, when livestock or equipment is appropriated from the Bedouin and then heavy fines are imposed on them. This is the poorest population in the occupied territories, which barely manages to supply itself with basic necessities – without water, without electricity, without paved roads, homes, health and educational services. And all this in Area C, where Israelis supposed to be responsible for all services.
Tayasir checkpoint – 14:00
Here, too, the checkpoint commander explained the crossing procedures.
As usual at this hour, there’s light traffic. Inspections are conducted normally, despite the loosened restrictions.
Gochia roadblock – 15:00
The gate is closed. There’s no point calling Majid, because he says that there are cameras which permit seeing if anyone arrives, and anyway, no one arrives, because the gate is always closed, etc., etc. So we called Abu Sakr, from Khadidiya, many of whose residents must use this gate, and I gave him Majid’s phone number so he can call whenever someone has to go through. In two weeks we’ll check to see whether this arrangement works.
Za’tara junction – 16:00 No unusual activity. Vehicles aren’t inspected, no matter what direction they’re coming from.
Translated by Naomi G.
According to Ma’ged, the checkpoints commander in the local DCO, 3 weeks ago the restrictions on the entrance of west-bank citizens to Jordan Valley were lifted. We didn’t check if the order was indeed executed. Does this leniency intended for the Ramadan Month only? The checkpoints were operating as usual.
Following Daphne’s report from 8/8/12 about the confiscation of 80 cows that were, according to military authorities, in the way of traffic (that is always quite sparse). The family paid 15,000 shekels (besides the lawyer’s fee) and got back 22 cows less than were taken away. The army admitted that 8 cows died and were buried. Many cows were returned wounded. No compensation was offered to the family.
We realized that in fact there were cameras warning about people waiting to cross at the closed Gochia checkpoint. 20 minutes after we got there an army vehicle arrived. Ma’ged said that he gave, as well, his phone number to people living west of the gate, in case they wanted to cross. Still, during the last weeks, since the gate was repaired, no one went through. If this the solution to the problem of the checkpoint being constantly closed? We need to go on checking, especially with the residents that need to cross here. It seems that Ma’ged is the best address when clarifications are needed.
First day of Eid al Fiter (celebration of the end of the Ramadan fast): there is more traffic at the checkpoints, mainly of families visiting for the holydays. People who we usually meet were elsewhere, visiting relatives.
Za’tara /Tapuach Checkpoint – 14.00
The lot is empty. No soldiers except on guarding towers.
Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – 14.15
There is a soldier at the checking point toward the Jordan Valley. But we were told that there are no restrictions for entering the Valley, and that lately there are no checking at all, so why today all of a sudden? A white transit with army license plate is parked here (the civil administration? General Security Services?)
While we were there no Palestinian car passed by, so we couldn’t see if inspections were performed. When we came back two hours later there were no soldiers around.
Gitit Settlement – on the other side of the settlement, the west side of the road, new hothouses with vines were raised. Further, facing the Pumping Institute of Mekorot, the Water Company, there is a large unplowed field (not Palestinian, obviously). There are no settlements in this area and in previous years a settler from the west valley worked the land.
Hamra Checkpoint – 14.40
At 40 Celsius degrees heat, passengers who left the car for inspection, are waiting for the checking to end so that they can get back to the cars and travel to their destinations, it usually takes 2-3 minutes.
Gochia checkpoint – 15.00
After waiting for 20 minutes the checkpoint commander arrived. See at the head of the report.
Tayasir Checkpoint – 16.45
Here, too, more traffic than usual, especially heading west. It doesn’t seem as if there are more people who want to take advantage of the leniency at the Valley’s entrance, as the commander said. The same goes for Hamra’s checkpoint.
Between Roee and Mehora settlements lives a Bedouin family. Army units constantly train in front of their tents, often with live fire. The maneuver lasts all week long. The family lives in constant fear of someone being hurt. 4 adults and 4 children live there. If they move their tents, the camp will be destroyed and they will have no place to live.
A bus downloads soldiers who settle beside the road.
In K. camp next to Masciot settlement – We heard from their members about the continuation of the procedures concerning their 80 (according to them 120) cows that were confiscated 10 days ago. See head of report.
Za’tara/Tapuah Checkpoint – 18.30
Three border guards next to the guarding tower in the middle of the main lot.
Four soldiers are standing on both sides of the road leading to Huwwara. During the 15 minutes we waited no car stopped for inspection. There are no soldiers here during the last months. It’s hard to believe that these soldiers, who were brought here on purpose, did nothing. We had no time for follow-up.
On the side of the road on the western side a police car stopped a Palestinian car for inspection.
Translator: Charles K.
The army confiscates cows and the Shabak interrogates laborers returning home at the end of their workday.
09:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim – Not manned.
Yesterday approximately 80 cows belonging to the Darajmeh family, which lives right below the Maskiyot settlement, were confiscated. The family said one of the sons, Seti, and his son, grazed their herd east of Maskiyot, far enough away so as not to galvanize into action the settlement’s security coordinator, but not near Highway 90. A representative of the Civil Administration, in a well-planned ambush, arrived with trucks, took the cows to quarantine at the Adam Bridge, arrested Seti and his son and took them to Ariel. No one notified the family of the arrest; no document confirming the confiscation was provided. When I came (the next day) they asked me to find out the reason for the arrest and confiscation. Only then did they learn that the cows allegedly crossed Highway 90.
Those arrested were required to post a bond of NIS 3,000 in order to be released, and who knows how much they’ll have to pay to get the cows back (transport, food, charges for holding them, etc.)! (I spoke with Jamila, from the Association for Civil Rights, and with Yudit from Yesh Din; no one wants to handle it). Towards afternoon the Palestinian Authority sent an attorney to Ariel to get the men released.
This is the same family which two years ago was accused of allowing its cows to enter a nature reserve rather than staying on the “marked trail.” The family is poor; the children run after cars, asking for food. Their cows are so emaciated and wretched that by the end of the summer the herders walk with them long distances to find some vegetation they can eat. The area, like the entire northern Jordan Valley, is also a firing range, so there’s no end to the possible pretexts than can be employed to embitter the lives of the inhabitants – the occupation, a nature reserve, a firing range…
I had no words of encouragement as I stood before them. They’re alone, facing the occupation’s steamroller that’s doing all it can to abuse them and chase them from their homes. A report of the incident appears on YNET.
10:30 Tayasir checkpoint - The soldiers hurry to chase us away, as usual, but we don’t even get close. They’re also trying to remove us from where the cars wait after crossing through the checkpoint. But we refuse to move; the soldier shrugs his shoulders and leaves us alone. There’s almost no traffic; cars coming from the West Bank cross in five minutes. Those coming from the Jordan Valley aren’t delayed at all. I asked the soldier whether restrictions have been eased for Ramadan; the question surprised him. “Why should they have been? Everything’s as usual.”
11:30 Hamra checkpoint – Three or four cars were always waiting in each direction. A truck arriving from the West Bank was refused entry to the Jordan Valley and had to return whence it came. The passenger in the truck remained at the checkpoint; he told us the driver is from Tubas, on the West Bank, which is why he wasn’t allowed into the Jordan Valley, but that the truck has other ways to cross and he’ll await it there…obviously. Because no checkpoint can block the power of people’s lives. All it can do is make things difficult, harass, embitter the weakest, those who can’t handle the manipulations necessary to get by…
They’re trying to chase us away here as well. It’s very hot; passengers who had to get out of the cars and cross on foot wait in the incandescent metal shed.
12:10 Ma’aleh Efrayim – We see from afar the long lines stretching away from the checkpoint. 18 cars on the roadside waiting to cross to the West Bank, the soldiers collecting IDs from the passengers. People had already gotten out of the burning hot cars when we arrived (not all are air-conditioned); it’s 37 degrees Celsius in the shade but there isn’t any shade. They’ve been waiting more than half an hour. Most of the cars are crowded with
laborers returning from working in the settlements’ fields; they began at 5 in the morning, in the sun, and because of the Ramadan fast they didn’t eat or drink. Now they’re stuck here, at the checkpoint. People are very angry, also at us standing helplessly before them. In desperation they’re seeking help, not sympathy…
It turned out that sitting behind the concrete barriers surrounding the pillbox towering over the checkpoint are “foxes, if you know what I mean,” according to one of the soldiers. Every few minutes one of the youths is called to accompany a soldier to the Shabak officers. Before entering the soldiers’ area he must lift his shirt and is carefully inspected. During the hour we were there we saw five youths brought from the cars to the interrogation room. Interrogation? Recruitment of collaborators? It’s very simple to cancel the valuable work permit that enables someone to support their family.
After an hour had passed I was forced to leave because of my guests’ commitments.
15:00 – 16:30
15:00 Shaked checkpoint
People, vehicles and stuff cross over on both sides.
Passage is swift.
The checkpoint commander tells us of their effort to allow the locals as normal lives as possible but does worn us of various clashes – He offers ample stories of aggressive behavior of some residents.
16:05 Reihan checkpoint
Workers return home, mostly from Israel, We're under the impression that due to the Ramadan there are less people going to work in Barta'a.
Passage is swift without delays or problems.
Family dressed in Holiday attire return from Jenin.
We were approaches by this gentleman whose family own the coal business on the way to the checkpoint. According to him, he received a court order stating that the plant needs to close down by Oct.24.12. They are no longer allowed to bring in new logs of wood but are entitle to keep the wood that they poses until that date.
Despite the above, trucks came over to his plant and confiscated all wood that was there.