Gochya, Hamra, Ma'ale Efrayim, Sun 24.10.10, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Most of the shift was devoted to filming an interview with F. for the film we’re making on the Jordan Valley.
A summary of his story will appear at the end of this report, because it’s the tale of the Jordan Valley.
11:10 Ma’aleh Efra’im
No soldiers at the checkpoint, although many young settlers are hanging around inside, sitting in the soldiers’ booth and demonstrating they’re in charge here.
11:50 Hamra checkpoint
People cross on foot, exiting holding their belts. A young man approaches complaining his wife and infant daughter aren’t being allowed through; she was sent back to Nablus. Before we were able to do anything, they came through. The soldiers’ water tank is still in the shed erected for the waiting Palestinians. They, of course, wait in the burning sun for their cars to be inspected.
The checkpoint commander tells us to move back to the junction (about 100 meters from the checkpoint). We refuse and remain where usually stand. Hecloses the checkpoint (life stops). After a line of 18 cars forms to the west (from the West Bank, coming into the Jordan Valley) we decide to leave. We complained to the legal advisor.
13:30– We receive a phone call telling us that a member of the Palestinian Hadidya family was stopped this morning near the ditches that divide the Jordan Valley from the West Bank. The man had come to the Guchya gate, which is supposed to be open three times a week so Palestinians could cross, and waited until 8:30, but the army didn’t arrive to open the gate. Recently the gate often hasn’t opened at all, so he apparently looked for another way to continue. He was detained until 15:15 at theTayasir checkpoint, as punishment.
Why does it take such a long time?
The man was checked and found to be kosher. The tractor is “still being checked.”
Members of F.’s family are the registered owners of 248 dunums of land on both sides of the road to the Tayasir checkpoint, about one kilometer to the east. They’ve lived there forever, raised vegetables and kept sheep. After the area was captured in 1967, the army began training on the family’s land, as it does throughout the Jordan Valley. The family’s land became a playground for firing and artillery practice, bullets and mines lay on the ground, shots flew above the heads of the children and the family had no peace. In 1979 F.’s 14-year old brother was killed by an artillery shell. A mine was left on the family’s land. The parents gave up and decided to leave so that the other children wouldn’t be hurt. They moved to the village of Aqaba – about one kilometer west of the checkpoint, and settled there, but continued to work their land. They rode their donkeys there daily. When the intifada erupted in 2000 the checkpoint was closed, and later everyone living west of the checkpoint was forbidden to enter the Jordan Valley. The family could no longer reach and cultivate its land. The army used the opportunity to take over the land and, later, when the family asked to cultivate it again the army refused to allow it to enter the area at all, claiming it was a training site.
We were on the outskirts of the area. F. didn’t dare go in for fear of mines and firing. Where we stood we found parts of artillery shells, live bullets, pipes with marks indicating they’d been shot at, empty boxes of bullets, etc. – a real battlefield.
Five years ago F. bought a small plot of land in el Farsiyaand began raising vegetables, and even planted olive trees. He obtained water from a spring he leased from its Palestinian owner in Tayasir. The spring is located about three kilometers from his new plot of land. Two and a half years ago the army cut the water pipes, claiming that the spring is a nature preserve! And that it’s forbidden to pump water from it. The army sets the entire Jordan Valley on fire, but wherever a Palestinians wants to settle, or to make a living, becomes forbidden for one reason or another!
Having no choice, F. began drawing water from Wadi el Malih– a small channel that dries up in the summer, and whose water is very saline. The water isn’t appropriate for most crops, so he grows what he can. Lo and behold – that was also no good as far as the occupation regime is concerned. In May of this year the army confiscated both the pumps which brought water to F.’s land, claiming this time that “You’re drying up the Sea of Galilee”!!
Since then, the land has been dry and barren. Volunteers from the Jordan Valley Solidarity organization laid a narrow pipe from the Ein el Bida spring, hoping that he’d be able to grow crops again this year in greenhouses. We can assume the army will find an excuse to prevent him from doing so.