Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 5.8.12, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
Notwithstanding the articles in “Haaretz” and the delegation of peace organizations to the Jordan Valley in protest against the army’s confiscation of water wagons from the Bedouin, the policy of confiscations continues unimpeded. Three days ago two tractors and a water wagon belonging to A. and O. were confiscated; they were told they’d be summoned to court and will be fined heavily for parking in a “firing range.” They were parked next to their family’s tent, but the entire area, except for the settlements, is a firing range! So even their presence is illegal.
The tractors are the Bedouin’s sole means of transportation, indispensable for making a living – bringing hay for the flock, water to the grazing land. You have to remember that these people are very poor; they meet their basic needs only with great difficulty. Where will they get the money to pay the occupying authorities? And tomorrow their equipment could be confiscated again.
Thus the Civil Administration, which is responsible for taking care of and dealing with the needs of the civilian population (in this case, the Bedouin), becomes an instrument of repression and dispossession in the hands of the military authorities.
12:55 Za’tara/Tapuach junction checkpoint. Only the guard towers are manned.
13:10 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – An Israeli police car on the road to the west is stopping vehicles which have yellow (Israeli) license plates.
Gitit settlement – New greenhouses west of the road.
Between Gitit and Mechora – The temperature is 39 degrees Celsius; the sheep seek any bit of shade under the jujube trees. A tanker fills a water wagon in one of the grazing areas.
Mechora settlement – Many long-abandoned greenhouses. Large chicken houses have recently begun to be erected, five thus far.
13:30 Hamra checkpoint. A man from Tam’un waits for a patient coming from Hadassah hospital, a laborer who fell from a ladder in one of the settlements. His employer is bringing him from Jerusalem. The man complains that the Gochia crossing is always closed, which greatly lengthens the trip to the Jordan Valley for residents of Tam’un. He says that soldiers at the Tayasir checkpoint harass people who have to go through, unnecessarily delaying them for long periods. On the other hand, people cross through the Hamra checkpoint quickly, in a reasonable amount of time.
Three cars coming from the Jordan Valley wait on the road. Three minutes later they go through without inspection.
Ro’i settlement. Seedlings have been planted in a fenced field by the side of the road west of the settlement.
15:00-15:30 Gochia checkpoint
The gate is closed and locked. Zaharan, from the DCO, has been given a different assignment. We spoke to someone from the DCO situation room; she didn’t know what we were talking about, nor did she help. Later we managed to speak to Majid, the checkpoint non-com. He said they have cameras showing whether people are waiting at the gate; they send soldiers to open it. But since usually no one comes, there’s no point in opening it.
Someone should examine that claim. At one time, when a different unit was responsible for opening the gate, one of its officers told us they opened it in the morning but if no one went through there was no reason to re-open it in the afternoon. At that time, no one mentioned cameras. Meanwhile, it’s like the chicken and the egg: because the local Bedouin see the gate is always closed (it’s supposed to open three times a week for half an hour in the morning and in the afternoon) they don’t try to use it; as a result, as Majid says, there’s no point opening it.
16:40 Tayasir checkpoint. Very little traffic.
The checkpoint commander approaches us with another soldier to warn us not to go near the checkpoint. We asked them whether they know that the Gochia crossing is supposed to be opened, because the unit in the base near the checkpoint is responsible for doing so. He had no idea. We should note this unit is new here.
At K’s encampment
K. tells us about two people from the Hamam el Malih area who had tractors and a water wagon confiscated.
“My father is 90 years old. He’s been living here since before the 1967 war. Now they tell him – leave. All the land is ours. Where should he go?”
18:15 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint.
Soldiers inspect Palestinian cars traveling to the Jordan Valley. Only those whose owner and driver are registered as being residents of the Jordan Valley are permitted to cross (why???). Each car is detained for about five minutes. First, documents are inspected. There’s a discussion/argument. Then the driver gets out to open the trunk. Only afterwards is he allowed to drive away.
As usual, cars belonging to settlers speed by at the same time. If the road is blocked the drivers make those waiting at the checkpoint move to the side, because they’re lords of the land. As are we.
A few months have passed since inspections were conducted here. Nothing out of the ordinary happened while we were present.