Ma'ale Efrayim, Shomron Crossing, Tayasir, Sun 19.6.11, Afternoon
11:10 Shaar Shomron
Some ten Palestinians standing, talking to the police on the lane that enters th Wes Bank. Apparently they were caught as illegals and are being returned to the West Bank. Since the road is "apartheid" with no Palestinian traffic, they will have to walk perhaps ten kilometers to el-Azaria – the nearest Palestinian community to this point.
11:30 – Maalei Ephraim
not occupied but we can see soldiers milling around in the upper pillbox, and a soldier trying to drive flies away from the water wagon.
Activity map of Jordan Valley Solidarity
on 14th June houses were demolished in Phasael on the contention that the inhabitants were residing on state lands. 18-19 homes and three other buildings (for flocks) were destroyed in the centre of the community. The Civil Administration also disconnected the electric cables and water piped from these homes and the people were left without power and water. One hundred and three people, among them 69 children, remained under the terrible sun, without shelter. The Red Cross came long after the demolitions and evaluated the damage, and finally supplied assistance to only two families. That assistance was a tent, four blankets, mattresses and… shampoo(!) According to the Red Cross the other people were not at home, or not registered, when the homes were demolished… The activists who were there during the demolitions said that, in the resulting hubbub it was not possible to count the people, but there were many – certainly not only two families. View video of the demolitions.
We discern festive flags fluttering over the new neighbourhood that was added to the settlement – apparently celebration of a house warming, and immediately there popped up alongside the neighbourhood a gigantic new tent – another neighbourhood? Next time it would be worth going up to take a look.
14:10 Tayasir Checkpoint
As we pull up a hundred metres from the checkpoint, the commander comes down and asks us: "You know the laws?" I explain to him that after five years at this checkpoint, I do know. The question is does he know? He doesn't object when I and a visitor walk up to the checkpoint. Tal and the other guest remain in the car. The checks were quick and, at least while we were there, nobody waited more than a minute, and if a soldier didn't notice, the commander drew his attention to the arrival of a car. Our guest, who is staying in the Valley and passes through the checkpoints almost every day, was in shock: "I have never seen a checkpoint functioning at such a speed and so efficiently!" Was it the influence of our presence? She claims that it was.
As usual, passengers in cars from the west, going into the Valley, alight and are called one by one for the check. There is no soldier in the emplacement, but the soldier who is supposed to be covering the checker is doing the check himself, and for safety's sake he informs an old man, who appears to be 80, "put the identity card here (on a low concrete wall between him and the Palestinian's lane) and step back." The Palesinian looks at him in wonder, not understanding what he wants, and then the soldier says with a wave of his hand: "Back, back!" The Palestinian understood and took three steps back.
Three minutes after we left Tayasir, a military jeep came after us, and it became clear that this is the vehicle assigned to open Gochya Gate.
15:00 Gochya Gate
With Swiss precision the soldiers arrive at the Gate and open it. One tractor is waiting, and it crosses without delay. The soldiers start to close up when two more tractors arrive. The first is two sons and a daughter of Abu Saker. The soldier stops them and argues that the tractor is not listed on the name of the son who is driving; "I am interested to know whether the tractor is really yours?" (This in Hebrew). The son did not understand the soldier's golden expressions. The soldier continued to explain. The son continued to not understand. Finally the tractor, with the youngsters, passed through (as for the registration of the tractor – more to come). A third tractor also passes through and, immediately, the soldiers carefully lock the gate and climb on their jeep. We didn't wait.
We drove to the tent camp of Taleb A from Hdidiya, not far from Carmei Bekaot. On 10.6.11 some jeeps (soldiers, not Civil Administration but army) came and, without demolition orders proceeded to destroy the camp – a residential tent and three structures for the flocks. The animals are now out under the sun. The soldiers manacled Taleb and blindfolded him with flannelette, and he remained that way next to his home from 15:00 to 19:00: "no cigarette, no food, no drink," while the soldiers happily helped themselves to his cigarettes. Some of them took Taleb's son to Tayasir Checkpoint and held him there until 19:30, then released him in the direction of the West Bank. The circuit he was forced to make, through Hamra Checkpoint, took him an hour and a half.
Why? Good question. Taleb doesn't know. Afterwards he asked a policeman why they did this to him, and the answer was: "The soldiers are madmen!" That's it.
Taleb has a problem. He and his brothers jointly have a tractor which travels every day to Ein Shibli, near Nablus and beyond Hamra Checkpoint, to bring water for them and for the flocks. The tractor had belonged to their father and was registered on his name. But the father is old and ill, and cannot drive to bring water. But entry to the Valley is only for vehicles (including tractors) driven by the owners themselves. And what about the others – the tractor also belongs to them but ownership can only be registered on one name. And they pass through Hamra Checkpoint every day. Occasionally there are "good soldiers and they let pass, and sometimes the soldiers don't…" And then what? They are held for hours at the checkpoint, or sent back to the West Bank where they have nowhere to go – after all home is in the Valley… Each day and its draw of the lottery…
Taleb also tells of the Mekorot water pump, east of his encampment, which has been broken for a number of months and loses about ten cubic metres of water a day – but who cares? But if he goes there to let his animals drink from the flow out of the pipe -- "God help him." Immediately he is pounced on by soldiers and security personnel and perhaps even "modesty shifts." Then he continues to take his life in his hands and to drive to Ein Shibli, praying that today there will be "good soldiers" and that he will be back within two and a half hours with a tank full of water.