Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 29.4.12, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
R., the security coordinator of the Maskiyot settlement, continues to abuse the Bedouin living next to the settlement, with the assistance and cooperation of military commanders in the area. Recently he again stopped Bedouin at the Tayasir checkpoint for no apparent reason, destroyed a tent in which people were living as well as a shade canopy for sheep on grazing land far from the settlement. Since the authority of security coordinators holds only within the borders of the settlements, he calls upon soldiers to carry out his wishes, and they do.
We again witnessed cars detained at the Za’tara (Tapuach) junction so the Shabak could interrogate youths, something that now seems to occurr all the time.
The arrest of the Bedouin at checkpoints for no reason, without calling the police or filing a complaint, usually at the initiative of one of the security coordinators, used to be very frequent a few months ago. Now they’re doing it again. When we read about the unconditional support of the settlers for the Jordan Valley deputy brigade commander, it was clearly not due only to the beating he administered but primarily because the army units in the area are the settlers’ contractors.
11:20 Za’tara junction – no inspections
11:40 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – no soldiers
Between Gitit and Mechora people are again cultivating lands next to the Mekorot pumping station. In prior years, Eyal Levy from Na’ama in the southern Jordan Valley was in charge of the work. There’s no settlement near the fields. The packing house adjacent to the cultivated fields is still abandoned. We note that the fields receive water from Mekorot.
We drove into the Hamra settlement out of curiosity. The guard at the gate asked us what we wanted. What’s most noticeable is the profusion of greenery and well-cared-for landscaping in this arid region. The water allocation to the Bedouin is 0 (zero), none even for drinking, and the permanent localities are allocated only one-tenth of what the settlements receive.
12:25 Hamra checkpoint
A semi-trailer is loading concrete cubes that had been placed on the road to divide it into lanes. The checkpoint is empty most of the time.
M.A., who lives opposite the Maskiyot settlement, was again arrested last Saturday and held for a few hours at the Tayasir checkpoint. R., the settlement’s security coordinator, initiated the arrest. The reason wasn’t clear. Since he has no formal authority beyond the borders of the settlement, he calls soldiers to carry out the punishment. Such behavior had been frequent in the past. Last Saturday he called soldiers to demolish a canopy that had been erected on grazing land three kilometers from the settlement to shade the sheep from the terrible heat.
A., a member of the Darajmah family, has for decades taken his flock during the summer to the area near Maskiyot. When he set up his tent this year as usual, R. appeared, accompanied by soldiers, arrested him at the checkpoint and, in his absence, ordered his sons to demolish the tent.
14:15 Tayasir checkpoint
The checkpoint is usually empty at this hour
15:25 Gochia checkpoint
As usual during recent months, it’s closed, no soldiers and no locals.
16:05 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
A large armored vehicle stands in the middle of the checkpoint. A soldier sits on the steps of the cab. Palestinian cars go through freely.
16:25 Za’tara checkpoint (Tapuach junction)
Two border police soldiers are taking a handcuffed Palestinian youth from one of the concrete shacks to the other side of the white metal fence, apparently (based on past experience) for interrogation by the Shabak. We don’t know how long he’d been handcuffed, nor what finally happened to him. We stayed only half an hour (after a long shift in the Jordan Valley). The border police soldier in charge said that it hadn’t yet been decided what to do with him. His family hadn’t been notified. He was filling out a report, apparently about the youth’s arrest.
The procedure is for border police soldiers, who are in charge of the checkpoint, to randomly stop taxis whose passengers include young men, send them over to park in the plaza, detain them until documents are inspected and someone decides who’ll be interrogated by the Shabak. If the interrogation drags on they try to convince the taxi driver to continue on his way, apparently because they don’t want cars to accumulate. During the half hour we were there, three taxis were stopped and one person was taken for interrogation. He hadn’t returned by the time we left. Two taxis continued waiting more than 20 minutes.
The border police soldier has more authority than the soldiers, which may be the reason they’re the ones who’ve recently been manning this junction, to make it easier to arrest people when instructed to do so by the Shabak.
While we were waiting a border police soldier went by, accompanied by a Jewish civilian (who seemed to be a friend or acquaintance) who threatened to smash our car windows if we didn’t leave immediately. He said he lives in the area. The police officer didn’t respond to his threats; both continued on their way.
Since the last time we were here two weeks ago, a fence has been erected between the road toward Huwwara, as well as the soldiers’ buildings, andthe plaza. Two pedestrian entrances allow people to move between the two areas. We saw a man in civilian clothes emerge from the other side of the white wall behind which the youths had been taken for interrogation, talk on a cellphone and then go back inside.