Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Mon 6.2.12, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
11:30 – Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – We saw from a distance the checkpoint wasn’t manned but two military jeeps were parked there. When we arrived three soldiers emerged from the fenced area, with weapons and flak jackets, and began stopping Palestinian cars for inspection.
After last month’s welcome rains the Jordan Valley is garbed gloriously in green. Here and there we see Palestinian fields next to those of the settlements, since the Occupation can’t prevent God’s rains from watering the fields where they grow wheat, oats, beans and peas. They’re very happy this year at the abundance of rain. All that seeps into the ground will be pumped up by Mekorot for the settlers – in the summer the Palestinians again won’t have water.
We visited M., a member of the Daragma family, who was badly beaten last week by the security coordinator of the Rotem settlement. He was in the family’s encampment at the Maskiyot junction. Here’s what happened: He, his brother and his cousin were grazing their herd of cows (you remember the herd that was fined for straying from the marked path?) near Shdemot Mehola (near Highway 90). Not near Rotem at all. Suddenly a jeep appeared and Didi, Rotem’s security coordinator, got out. M. says they never had any problems with him, and doesn’t understand what happened this time. Three or four other people remained in the jeep and didn’t intervene. After a short discussion Didi began hitting M. in the head, knocked him down and beat him in the chest and abdomen. M. lost consciousness; Didi jumped back into the jeep. M’s brother asked them for water and yelled that his brother was dead. But the settlers fled without stopping. The brother and cousin telephoned their parents, who called the police and an ambulance. M. was hospitalized in Jenin for two days with a concussion and severe bruises (according to what he told us). Tomorrow a researcher from Yesh Din will come to accompany M. to the police station to file a complaint. M.’s mother was also injured – when she heard her son was unconscious and “maybe dead” due to the beating, she ran to him, fell and severely injured her back and her left shoulder; now they’re very painful.
While we were talking we saw a bulldozer grading the area on the hilltop between Maskiyot and Rotem. We were told that a new settlement is being prepared. We drove up to see; on the way we ran into a shepherd we know. She told us about the construction and gradually began to fall apart and cry bitterly – if they build a new settlement here, where will we graze the sheep? We already have nothing to eat. What, after all, do we want? All we want is to be able to live!! We’re not hurting anyone, but how will we live? What will we eat? She didn’t stop weeping in the face of the bulldozer.
14:20 – Tayasir – New soldiers. Border Police. And a rare sight – a female Border Police soldier. We’ve never seen a female soldier at Tayasir. When the shifts changed the soldiers passed by and she told us they’re replacing the regular unit for a month. Their commander urged them not to talk to us and then threatened to close the checkpoint if we don’t move away. Since we’d planned to leave we decided not to get into an argument.
Inspection goes very slowly and carefully – the trunk and hood are opened, a soldier enters the car to rummage around…but still the Palestinians say that this unit is a big improvement over the previous soldiers doing their compulsory service who held them up at the checkpoint for hours. Light traffic, but the slow inspection causes a line of 3-4 cars to form.
16:10 – Hamra checkpoint – Light traffic. Border Police soldiers here too, inspections of people crossing to the Jordan Valley are frighteningly rigorous. Three young men wait for a car parked in the middle of the checkpoint, around which seven soldiers are having a discussion. It turns out that it’s a rental car from Nablus, not registered in the Jordan Valley. Ten minutes later the occupier decides – turn around. The car and jumpy driver pick up their companions and turn back toward Nablus.
We decide again to visit our friend who lives near the checkpoint; imagine our surprise when, ten minutes later, the four youths sent back to Nablus turn up. “How?,” I ask. “There are ways,” the driver winks. That’s proof that the checkpoint is no more than an annoyance, and whoever wants to go through will always find another way. And why, in fact, shouldn’t a resident of Nablus be able to visit his friend in the Jordan Valley?
We engaged in many conversations during this shift, all of which were characterized by great despair and deep hatred of the Palestinian Authority. And, in the absence of an alternative, support for Hamas. Not because of its political platform, but because it expelled Israel from Gaza, and the hope it will do the same on the West Bank. There’s great anger at the Palestinian Authority for selling out the Palestinians for a mess of Israeli porridge. When I say that Hamas’ policies also caused much suffering and death to Gaza, someone says, “It’s better to die once than to die, like us, every day anew.”
17:30 – Ma’aleh Efrayim – Unmanned.