Hamra, Ma'ale Efrayim, Thu 18.6.09, Afternoon

Observers: 
Yifat D, Daphna B (reporting)
18/06/2009
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Afternoon

Facing the University railway station, we were held up for two hours by a Shabak agent, who demanded to know where Yifat had come from and where she was going. She refused to cooperate with the intrusion into her private life. This in a public place (on the street), in the waiting area next to the parking island, while waiting for me and innocently reading a book. She gave him her ID card, but he refused to identify himself and called the police. The policemen were quite embarrassed by the event.

12:45 Maalei Ephraim – no Palestinians. One settler waiting in the checkpoint for a ride.

13:00 Hamra – a long line of cars (13) from the east and another 15 from the direction of Nablus. The inspection is not in depth, but between cars there are long breaks while the soldiers cluster in the shade and converse idly while the Palestinians wait in the burning midday sun of the Jordan Valley (37 degrees centigrade). But who is counting their distress... They wait quietly for an hour or hour and a half, smoking one cigarette, then another, to alleviate the frayed nerves.
A car coming from Nablus was turned back, we assume because it did not meet the arbitrary criteria that govern transients at the checkpoint: who are not residents of the Valley, vehicle not registered in the driver’s name, etc. as if this was not one country but a border post between two countries. The passengers, forced to cross on foot by another one of the arbitrary orders whose sole purpose is to hamper the population, are waiting after inspection on the east side, in the sun. It takes a while till they see that their car has been sent back to Nablus, and they march – three young girls and a heavy, panting old woman – back to the other side.

Many workers arriving from work on the agricultural plots of the settlements. They wait in a long line in the sun. The roofing erected, seemingly, for the comfort of the transients, is occupied by the soldiers’ water tank. At 13:30, after a phone call to the DCO, cars begin to pass without checks and the lines are much shorter. During the day (at 14:45, 17:30, 19:30) we passed Hamra checkpoint, and each time there was no line – at most two cars.
We did not get to Tayasir because of lack of time.

15:05-15:20 Gochya Gate (telephoned report)

The gate did not open and only repeated phone calls caused the soldiers to arrive at 16:15, after people had waited an hour and a half in the sun.

Harassment of Jordan Valley Residents – False arrests, House Demolitions

On May 21 the army placed more than 60 concrete posts with signs: "Firing Zone – Entry Forbidden". The signs were placed alongside each of the communities and each encampment. Months earlier all the residents received demolition orders and "Orders to Leave A Closed Area," each in preparation for the driving out of thousands of the Valley’s residents. There is no single community over which the threat of eviction, in the form of these new notices, does not hang (I emphasize – the orders were distributed before the placing of the warnings), and in parallel we were told of a new settlement near Mesciot (we didn’t see) and other settlements were celebrating their "liberation" from the people who had lived in the area decades before the settlers even thought of settlement.

Wadi el-Milik – Ein el-Hilwe
At the junction where you turn to Tayasir from Route 578, the army on Wednesday 17.6.09 destroyed three homes and 12 sheep pens belonging to three families of 20 people with 12 children. Across the road, the army demolished the buildings of another family, but a group of activists from the area immediately built on the same spot for the man is very ill...

Ein Qurzelia – Area Called "Arqub Aqraba" known to the army as "Area 5")
In an arid desert area, full of stones and difficult to access, the army destroyed the homes of three families – 28 people with 18 children. They also destroyed three water carts. The family originates in Aqraba to the north east, but has been living here every winter for 25 years (in summer they return to Aqraba). When we arrived at the place, it was deserted. The people had gone to Aqraba, but their presence could still be felt in the air. On 26.3.09 they received an "Eviction from Closed Area" order. Here too the demolition was on 17.6.09.
On 4.6.09 the homes of residents of Hadidia who were living at Ras el Ahmad (near Gochya Gate – the settlement of Roi) were destroyed, and all the residents are threatened with "transfer."

It appears that the IDF has opened a massive transfer offensive under the cover of the Firing Zone excuse.

False Arrests
We visited the family of S., whose son was arrested on Thursday 11.6.09 when the security officer from Beqaot and two guards of the settlement planted on him a bag of spent cartridges, then accused him of stealing them. The truth is that there are no cartridges on the spot, because there are no military exercises there because of its close proximity to the settlement. E. was arrested with his 13-year-old brother and both were beaten all over their bodies. Afterwards the settlers delivered them to the police. That evening the young brother was released and E. was transferred to detention in Hawarra. He was a week in detention then released without any accusation. Two weeks ago the same security man arrested him and held him for eight days (this time without the beating). In February he was arrested with another brother in a similar fashion, had cartridges planted on him, was beaten then released without charge. Attorney Tawfiq Jabran submitted a complaint to Police Internal Affairs, but nothing was done. The true reason for the arrests is the desire to drive them out of the area (they are located between Roi and Beqaot), and particularly to deny them grazing for their flock near the settlements.