Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Mon 5.3.12, Morning

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Dafna B. Guest: Amikam S., a tour guide

Translator:  Charles K.


It's been a fascinating shift.  Amikam provided the historical background encompassing thousands of years for the sights we saw today.  I intended to educate and found myself learning.


11:3 – Tapuach checkpoint, Za’tara junction

No soldiers at the checkpoint; people go through freely.


11:50 – Ma’aleh Efrayim

No soldiers.


Al Auja

The past few weeks, and in particular the past few days, have been especially rainy, and I decided to go to Al Auja, hoping that not all the spring’s water has been taken by Mekorot’s four huge pumps (Na’aran 1-4).  And in fact the “slide” and all the other channels were filled with flowing water; it was wonderful to see.  Ten years ago it looked like that year round.  But then Israel began plundering all the Palestinians’ water for the benefit of the settlers.  I’ll return next month to see what remains of all this water.

A youth reclines in an armchair by the side of Highway 90, smoking a nargilah, next to crates of vegetables just harvested from the field behind him.  Members of his family are visible in the background, picking more vegetables to sell.  Fava beans, squash, potatoes.  Tomorrow, or the day after, we can assume that the occupation’s emissaries with their heavy equipment will destroy the fruits of the family’s labor, but for the time being they’re able to make a living from their land.


We stop at the Jordan Valley Solidarity friendship house and are welcomed happily by the volunteers from abroad as well as by the Palestinians.  Amikam explains that the structure was built at the end of the 19th century, in a Sudanese style. 


Ein el-Hilweh

In the encampment opposite Maskiyot, near which the settlers erected a blue tent about six months ago, they tell us that two days ago the head of the household was fined 1000 shekels for crossing the road with his flock of sheep.  The family, which is extremely poor and has one daughter in a wheelchair, is at a loss – where will they get the money?  What will happen?


14:30  Tayasir checkpoint

People go through quickly, without delays.  IDs are randomly selected for inspection at the entrance to the West Bank; every car entering the Jordan Valley has its documents checked.  Everyone, including schoolchildren, must go through the checkpoint on foot.  The reservists don’t object to our presence at the checkpoint.  On the contrary, they seem happy at the chance to talk with someone from the outside.  All of them are settlers who live in the area – one, from Maskiyot, came five years ago from Shirat HaYam, in Gaza; another, from Mechora, is secular, with a long ponytail.  And one older religious man from Hemdat.  The one from Mechora said that 40 families live there.  Only two earn their living from farming locally (…and how much land does the settlement take up!!!   40 Palestinian families could make a living from that land), the others work in service occupations, most of them in Israel.  When I said that, he corrected me:  “Your concept of what ‘Israel’ is and mine are different, you know.”  But his tone was neither angry nor hostile.  He just stated a fact.

The Palestinians say there are no delays at the checkpoint, that it went well.  The routine of life under occupation…


16:30  Hamra

People cross quickly, without delays.  Everyone coming from the direction of Nablus (from the West Bank) must get out of the vehicle in which they arrive and go through the checkpoint on foot.  No one uses the container placed near the checkpoint as a shelter from the sun and wind.  Perhaps because it’s still cold, and the sun isn’t as hot as it is in the summer.