Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Thu 3.1.13, Afternoon
An army maneuver at Hamam Al Malih, the IDF chasing thousands of people out of their homes for 22 hours,
including a cold winter night, sent to sleep out in the open.
12:50 Za'atara Checkpoint/Tapuach Junction- unmanned, just a single soldier at the post overlooking the junction.
13.:10 Ma'ale Efrayim Checkpoint- unmanned.
13:50 Gokhia Barrier - The metal arm gate is open, next to it army forces are seen - 4 jeeps and other military machines (I don't tell them apart too well), we did not see any tanks. Beyond the road we met a shepherd from Atouf who said that west of the gate, at Ras Al
Ahmar, army maneuvers have been going on for two days already, with heavy shooting, airplanes etc.
14:20 Al Malih (on the way to Tyassir Checkpoint) - a long line of waiting cars near Al Malih, soldiers blocking the road. At the roadside a kind of temporary camp is seen - dozens of tractors with platforms loaded with blankets, pots, clothes, basics. All the inhabitants of Al Malih, a densely-inhabited region, received an order yesterday to leave their homes that very day from 4 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. the next day. Thousands - children, the elderly, ill people - were forced to spend the freezing night out in the open (it gets extremely cold at night in this Jordan Valley area, as it does in desert climate), sleeping on platforms or the backs of trtucks (in the photograph), when all that protects them from the night cold is a miserable nylon sheet. The people who live in the actual building of Hamam Al Malih were forced out as well.
On every one of our shifts here i experience anew the illustration of the Book of Exodus, wherein every week the occupier hardens his harsh hand as he cannot break the spirit of the slaves, and every week cruelty reaches levels that my wildest imagination cannot fathom. Of all the empty areas in the Palestinian Jordan Valley (and they are numerous), this crowded region is the one in which the Israeli army chose to play its war games, impacting so severely the human beings who live there. At 14:35 the barrier was removed and all the platforms began to move towards their encampments, scattered amidst the hills along the road.
14:45 Tyassir Checkpoint - A team of the Ecumenical Accompaniers, (volunteers in Palestine of the World Council of Churces), situated at Khirbet Yanoun (Palestinian hamlet in the Nablus area, who came to the Valley having heard of the present distress, told us they had waited for an hour and a half at the checkpoint. They told us that settler violence in their area has exacerbated and the Palestinians there are pleading for Machsomwatch members to come to them, and even more than that - the media! When we got to the checkpoint, waiting lines were long as a result of opening the road barrier. (Inspection was relatively swift, except for the cab that had driven the foreign volunteers, we saw no local cars while we were there (30 minutes). People who were waiting to cross over towards the hills of the central West Bank told us that the same morning workers were taken of their shuttles to work in the JordanValley settlements, and required to take off coats, sweaters, shoes and socks, and stood in line like that for at least half an hour.
At the junction of Ein Al Hilwe and the Alon Road, we saw 2 jeeps tugging a water tanker, and parked in the encampment of the Daraghma family, right in front of their guest tent. We stopped to find out what was happening, and one of the soldiers, after making it clear to us that this is his Eretz Yisrael, explained they were emptying their (the army's) water tank out because the water was no longer fresh. One of the Palestinians said, "Oh, if I had what he is just pouring out like that on the ground..." (Naturally everything was being done in the Bedouins' yard and no one bothered to ask their permission)...
After some moments we saw one of the soldiers turn his back to us (and his face to the two roads meeting at that junction), and urinate. When he was done, he jumped, shook himself and then lowered his trousers a bit to nicely tuck his shirt in. All of that right there in the Palestinians' yard, in full view of women and children. (Photo) Was this an intentional attempt at humiliation? I don't think so. I believe these soldiers simply do not regard the Palestinians as human beings, around whom one should be modest.
15:00 Gokhia Gate - open, no soldiers present.
15:15 Hamra Checkpoint - passengers are forced to disembark about 50 meters from the checkpoint and cross on foot, all vehicles get through. Inspection is swift.
15:40 Ma'ale Efrayim Checkpoint - unmanned
16:45 - Oranit bus depot - see separate report.