Hamra, Ma'ale Efrayim, Tue 11.5.10, Afternoon
Translation: Bracha B.A.
Tour with 18 Activists from the Sadaka-Reut Youth Group
13:00 – Ma'aleh Ephraim Checkpoint
The checkpoint is manned. Settlers are waiting for rides inside the soldiers' position, and there are no Palestinians.
13:45 – Hamra Checkpoint
17 cars wait in line at the east side, to cross to the West Bank. The first people in the line claim that they have been waiting for an hour. Traffic is held up because two huge trucks carrying boulders are being checked. In the end the trucks were not allowed to go from the Jordan Valley to Nablus, and they had to return from where they came.
After we arrived the soldiers asked the truck drivers to pull over and started letting the cars through, and in a half hour all had gone through. Perhaps our presence had caused the soldiers to work more efficiently.
People coming from west to east have to go through on foot and wait for cars to pick them up again. Many remove their belts and sometimes their shoes as well. Since traffic is being held up they have had to wait in the sun for a long time.
15:00 – Guchia Gate
Neither soldiers nor Palestinians are at the gate. We showed our guests the ditches and embankments that are designed to prevent any traffic from passing from the West Bank to the valley and vise versa. We pointed out to our guests that moving about in the Jordan valley is difficult and the West Bank is hermitically sealed off and passage from east to west is impossible except through the Hamra or Tayasir checkpoints. We pointed out the isolation from centers of life, including schools and medical treatment, and the separation of families from their land and business centers. We showed them how the Israeli Water Authority (Mekorot) has taken control of the water, while most of the residents of the Jordan valley have no water at all. We encountered mud when we stopped at the side of the road because of irrigation that was open in the middle of the day – a luxury of the settlements.
We visited Al Farsiya, a Palestinian settlement located on its own land, that draws water from a well that they own. The army cut the pipes and prevented them from pumping water, claiming that it was a nature preserve. Since the residents had no choice they had to begin pumping water from El Maliach, located beneath their village. Since the water is salty only salt-resistant vegetables can be grown there. Here, too, the army cut the pipes and confiscated the four pumps, preventing the Palestinians from pumping water to their fields. The fields and hothouses are now barren and dry. The residents of Al Farsiya began to lay a pipe from the village with the help of Jordan Valley Solidarity to Ein Al Biada who have their own well, in hopes that the governors of the occupation will not discover it and find another excuse to damage the pipes. It is clear to everyone that the object is to force the people to leave, abandoning the Jordan Valley for the settlers. Several days later we were told that the pipe was completed and that Al Farsiya was once again connected to the water pipes.
We were invited to lunch at the home of Z, who greeted us warmly. He told us about his sons' homes which had been destroyed in 2005 and 2007 and how his sons now had to rent homes in neighboring villages rather than live on his own land. The army also found a cistern for gathering rainwater and destroyed that as well.
19:00 – Ma'aleh Ephraim Checkpoint
There were no soldiers at the checkpoint but we saw a soldier in back of the watchtower.