Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sun 4.11.12, Morning
Translator: Charles K
* S`, from the Darajmeh family, which lives next to the Maskiyot settlement, received a demolition order for his encampment and a notice to leave in three days – he, his wife, his ten small children and his flock - his source of livelihood. He’s lived there since birth, leasing the area from a church group in Jerusalem which owns it. The legal grounds are that it’s a “firing range” and their presence is not allowed.
All the areas in the northern Jordan Valley inhabited by Bedouin have been turned into firing ranges. Why have they chosen S. to pick on? Dafna believes he’s first in line, and afterwards similar orders will be issued to all the Palestinians in the area. We’ve seen this trend for a long time, removing the Bedouin from the Jordan Valley - first those living near the settlements (and, of course, long before the settlements were established).
According to what we’ve tried to find out, there’s no way to help them and prevent the evil decree from being carried out. That’s the law in the occupied territories, determined by the GOC who’s sovereign here.
There’s a family whose encampment has been demolished and who’s been expelled a few times. Suing didn’t help. The homes are demolished, and then they return to erect them again.
* A resident of Tel Aviv leases agricultural land in the Jordan Valley between Gittit and Mechora; details below.
11:05 Za’tara checkpoint/Tapuach junction
Eight Palestinian cars detained, including two taxis and a truck. Border Police soldiers collect ID’s for inspection. They take the young men for interrogation by the Shabak on the other side of the white fence in the middle of the plaza. People say they’re detained for 30 to 60 minutes. The policeman says it’s only for a few minutes. The guys waiting to be interrogated say that the Shabak tries to enlist them as collaborators. Before entering “interrogation” the policeman searches them in a structure in the plaza that resembles a solitary confinement cell.
11:40 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint. 3 soldiers on the West Bank side of the checkpoint. No Palestinian cars crossed when we went through. Soldiers were also there when we returned.
New cultivated fields between Gittit and Mechora
They’re being worked by a Jew from Tel Aviv who leases the fields – from the Israel Lands Authority, he says. The laborers say he leases them from the Gittit settlement, and also receives a generous allocation of water (at NIS 4 per cubic meter), while inhabitants of the area receive no allocation and pay about NIS 15 per cubic meter. Last year’s lessee went bankrupt and also quarreled with the foreman. The new lessee apparently treats the Palestinian laborers very fairly, in comparison to what’s customary in the area: he pays them NIS 150/day (of course, without any benefits), while the settlers pay NIS 50-70/day. He also employs Bedouin, unlike the settlers. Later we’ll meet K.’s son who works at the Na’ama settlement and earns NIS 50/day for grueling work in the greenhouses when it’s more than 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) outside.
12:25 Hamra checkpoint – Sparse traffic at this hour. Residents of the West Bank also cross toward the Jordan Valley. Family visits have already begun for the Eid al Adha holiday which starts this weekend. Schools are closed this week. People go through the checkpoint quickly.
At the Kahabaneh family’s encampment
Soldiers train on the other side of the road, about fifty meters away,using live ammunition.
We sit in the family’s tent with them and across the road, like in a movie, soldiers run, drop to the ground and fire. And we hear the rat-tat-tat. To think what could happen if someone shoots the wrong way…
Their sons live in Auja in the southern Jordan Valley and are employed in agriculture in the settlements for NIS 50/day.
14:55 Tayasir checkpoint
We tried to find out more about the order that only residents of the Jordan Valley are permitted to enter with their vehicles, as part of the policy of cutting off the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank. Two weeks ago newspapers reported that the order had been cancelled. But the situation in recent weeks has been unclear – there are differences among the checkpoints, as well as from week to week. The soldiers at Ma’aleh Efrayim and at Hamra refused to answer our questions. At Hamra we met people from the West Bank who’d gone through the checkpoint with their vehicle. The soldiers at Tayasir said that it was “permitted,” but people at the checkpoint said “forbidden.” Perhaps it’s due to the frequent changes, when no one bothers to inform the local population.
The Palestinians also told us that sometimes people’s names come up in the computer; they’re then detained and handcuffed for two hours and later released. The soldiers say that if someone’s name comes up on the computer that means he did something, and then he’s detained until he receives a summons to meet with Tomer (who’s apparently from the Shabak).
The checkpoint was empty during most of our stay. Those coming through said they weren’t detained for long.
17:15 Za’tara. Empty