Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Sun 20.11.11, Afternoon
Meeting with the chairman of the Furshat Beit Dajan village council;
Gochia Gate is closed yet again;
Zaatara (Tapuach) Junction Checkpoint 11:30
Vehicles coming from Nablus and Huwwara are being checked;
Qusra village – 12:00
No settler attacks observed lately.
Male Efrayim Checkpoint 12:10
Furshat Beit Dajan village
Following our talk with a resident of the village two weeks ago (see 6.11.11), we met with the chairman of the village council, Mr. Tawfiq Aljabar Muhammad. We met at the local school, a two-storey stone building. The first floor was built by the Israeli regime (probably in the early years of Occupation) and the second by the Palestinian Authority.
The village is an example of a permanent farming locality in the Jordan Valley, unlike the Bedouin communities, so-called nomads, living in unrecognized villages.
This village numbers 1200 inhabitants, owners of homes and lands registered in their names since before the 1967 Israeli occupation. Their main problem is water. The Israeli National Water Company, Mekorot, allots this village water for drinking only – 10 cubic meters a day for all 1200 inhabitants, at the price of 5 NIS a cubic meter.This is hardly enough for home consumption, and not sufficient for farming – and this is a farming community. The local council supplies the water to the homes but there are 30 families living across the Allon Road who do not receive even this allotment, for they are not allowed to draw a water pipe under the road. The settlements in the area are supplied by water pipes laid under the very same road.
For the sake of comparison: The water allotted to settlements equals that of farming communities inside Israel: 12.5 cubic meters a person per month, costing less than 2 NIS per cubic meter (the prices cited are from 2009). At Furshat Beit Dajan the per capita figure is 0.25 cubic meter a month at 5 NIS per cubic meter. 50 times more expensive!!!
Regarding the water supply, the village has no direct contact with the Israeli authorities. The PA is the mediator here.
In this region, natural subterranean water reservoirs are plentiful. Five families in the village owned wells prior to 1967 and these have been left intact by the Israeli occupation authorities. But since then, it has been forbidden for villagers to dig more wells, and rain-water cisterns have been sealed by the army.
The water they need is transported in tankers by tractors or trucks from En Shibli. The price of water there is 15 NIS per cubic meter, impractical for farming. There too the water supply is running low and becoming salty, because Mekorot has been pumping out most of the ground water.
So how do people survive? First of all, most residents here are poor. They make a scant livelihood of farming (we did see several orange groves on our way which are not tended, for lack of water, as we learned later). Some make their living with their livestock and work at settlements. We forgot to inquire how much they are paid for a day’s work there. But as far as we know from elsewhere, their wages are far lower than the minimum wage in Israel.
Another problem is the power supply, or more exactly non-supply. We did see power lines overhead, but they supply electricity only to Jewish settlements around, not to the villagers. Generators are used only by people with money. Since fuel is expensive, a generator is operated only 3-4 hours a day. Some people here have no electricity whatsoever.
Health services – another of the sovereign’s duties to its occupied subjects. There is no clinic in the community. Nor do they receive a permit to build one. A physician arrives once a week for 3 hours. The closest hospital is in Nablus, 35 kilometers away.
Roads – we drove a dangerously potholed road inside the village. More holes than road… Apparently not only do the Israeli authorities not repair or pave roads (have you seen the roads in settlements?), they do not even permit the Palestinians to do so.
House construction – we often hear talk of the natural growth of population in the Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, and the need for home construction respectively. But the Palestinian communities in Area C have had no building permits since 1967. We saw ruins of demolished homes on the way, having been constructed without a permit. Does this population notgrow naturally? And we are not talking here about several months’ freeze, but rather of decades. Mr. Mohammad concludes that Israeli policy is meant to disable minimal living conditions for Jordan Valley residents, so they would up and leave the region. The Israeli government does say outright that it intends to hold on to this area under any future peace agreement. What future does it intend for the tens of thousands Palestinians who have lived in the region many generations before the Occupation?
Hamra Checkpoint – 13:40
Despite the large number of soldiers (8 at least), traffic is very slow. To the east of the Checkpoint, entering Area A, no checks are conducted. Throughout our shift there were 5-7 cars waiting in line for the soldier to gesture their advance with his finger. Twice cars were sent back because their drivers dared move ahead without waiting for the finger. There were many pedestrians, getting off cars arriving from the west and waiting for them to be allowed through.
Although we stood far from the Checkpoint, two soldiers approached us, seemingly out of curiosity. A conversation ensued. One of them went back, the other – a Druze– stayed to chat. Then he was called back to the Checkpoint, and when he didn’t respond, an MP was sent to bring him back. Someone must have disliked this encounter.
Tyassir Checkpoint 14:40
The Checkpoint is empty.
Dropping in on K., we learned that there have been no harassments lately on the part of Maskiyot settlers against their Palestinian neighbors.
Gochia Gate – 15:05
We found this barrier closed, just as we find it every time in recent months (except for a short period of time after being broken by a tank and soon repaired). As usual we called and notified Zaharan of the DCO. He said he’d speak to the company commander in charge, but the gate was still not opened. We called again and Zaharan said the commander promised him he was sending a jeep. We waited some more (until 15:45) and the gate stayed closed. Ever since the unit posted to this area has been Combat Engineers, this gate for some reason remains closed. The Bedouins who need to use it on a regular basis have given up and do not come any more.