Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 28.1.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
On Thursday, 17.1.13, the army demolished 12 Bedouin encampments at El Malih in the Jordan Valley. Bulldozers destroyed the tents in which the families lived and the sheep sheds, then loaded them onto trucks and left them on barren ground. Since then they’ve been living in the open, in the rain and the cold Jordan Valley nights.
On Saturday, 19.1.13, peace activists tried to come to express solidarity with them (in two buses) but the army closed the entrance to the road from Highway 578 (the Alon Road) all day. A truck that came from the west with tents for the residents was stopped at the Tayasir checkpoint and the army confiscated the tents.
The residents hesitate to re-erect tents, afraid the army will demolish and destroy them again.
09:45 Za’atara/Tapuach junction checkpoint – No inspections.
10:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – No soldiers. Two private cars with Israeli plates parked at the checkpoint. That was also the situation when we returned.
The cultivated fields between the settlements of Gitit and Mechora – These broad fields belong to the Gitit settlement which leases them to various people along with the generous water allocations they receive from Mekorot. It looks as if the settlement received more land and water than it could handle so it makes money from the resources it received for nothing or for almost nothing. While at the same time the Bedouin are expelled from their lands and refused water for household use and for agriculture.
We spoke this time to people working for one of those leasing the lands, an Israeli from Tayibeh. The workers are from Aqraba (Palestinians from the West Bank). They said they weren’t allowed to enter the Jordan Valley through the Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint. That’s strange, because there are now no restrictions on entering the Jordan Valley. They were forced to walk a very long way through the hills. Since then, they’ve been sleeping there. Someone brings them food for NIS 30/day, which is deducted from their daily pay of NIS 80-100 (they aren’t all paid the same amount). But it’s still worth it to them to work and walk a long way through the hills because it’s hard for Palestinians in the occupied territories to earn a living.
10:55 Hamra checkpoint – Very sparse traffic.
We saw soldiers training all along the way, also with live ammunition, very near the shepherds and their flocks, and also near the K. family’s encampment, about 200 meters away.
Hamam el Malih – We visited two encampments that the army had destroyed ten days ago. At one we found N., a handicapped old woman, and her two granddaughters. She showed us the remains of the encampment and the sheep pen. Now they sleep in a tiny shed left from the demolition.
At the other we found only signs of destruction. The people had fled down to the wadi.
We met Amira Hass there, people from B’Tselem and representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
13:30 Tayasir checkpoint – We chatted with a few particularly nice reserve officers.
15:30 Tapuach junction/Za’tara checkpoint - Two Palestinian taxis detained in the fenced plaza, the drivers’ IDs taken to be checked on the computer. They were released shortly after we arrived because the computer wasn’t working. We couldn’t stay to see whether the Border Police are again sending people to be interrogated here by the Shabak, as we’ve seen in the past.