Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Mon 29.4.13, Afternoon
The Palestinian Jordan Valley
The heat in the Valley reaches 36 degrees centigrade.
Brutality of military maneuvers – again, 200 families Palestinian are evacuated from their homes for 24 hours.
Fires are started by the army to prevent Palestinians from grazing their flocks.
Maale Efrayim Checkpoint
Unmanned in the morning, manned in the afternoon.
Passengers remain in the cars as they cross in both directions. This is a significant relief in the horrendous heat that has descended on the Jordan Valley these days. But the cars are inspected, one by one, even when Nablus-bound, driving into Palestinian-controlled areas.
Forced evacuation – the suffering inflicted upon hundreds of humans as a result of the Israeli army’s war games is indescribable, and intended apparently to make them leave. About 200 families received evacuation orders from today at 6 p.m. until tomorrow at 4 p.m. All the areas near the road leading to Tyassir and the Checkpoint – Al Maleh, part of En Al Hilwa, and the area east of Alon Road (no. 578), Samara, as well as Ras Al Ahmar – west of the Alon Road, parallel to Bekaot.
These days are sizzling hot. The Palestinians say “Al diniya nar” – The world is on fire. The sun bakes the earth and one can hardly breathe. And out of all possible days, now is the time they choose to expel people – women, the elderly, sick people, and children, along with their livestock – from their homes, to sit without any shelter in the sun for a whole night and a day. This isn't the first time – in recent months, inhabitants of Al Maleh and Ras al Ahmar have been evacuated every two weeks. But this time,
because of the extreme heat, is particularly brutal. The Palestinians watch many of their sheep to die.
It is hard to view this misery and the fear of what awaits them in these 24 hours. They clasp their hands and repeatedly ask, “Shu binsawi?” What are we to do? Some hours before the evacuation, we sit wi
th the elderly couple who in January, and before that in December, lost their home to the army’s demolition action – and we have no words for them.
I have contacted the OCHA office and was told they know and have tried to persuade the army to let
the people stay, but in vain. They will bring the people water!
The novelty now is that Palestinians east of the road, in Samara, were also evacuated. The army told them it intended to fire from there towards the western side of the Alon Road. And we ask – if it’s dangerous to the point that people have to be evacuated from their homes, will the road be closed off too, the road that serves mainly Jewish settlers? Or do Jews have some kind of intrinsic special protection?
The single consolation is that the army has created an opening in the dirt dyke that separates the Jordan Valley from the hilly West Bank area, in order to deploy tanks and troops westwards from the Alon Road, and contact between the inhabitants of Hadidiya, Humsa and Makhoul and their life-center in the West Bank is now totally open.
North of the Jewish settlement Ro’i we saw an charred area of a few hundred square meters, around the army base “Sea’ra”. On our way back we witnessed the mountain southeast of Hamra Checkpoint in flames – a huge, thickly smoking fire (we were told it has been on fire for the past three days). Around the Jewish settlement of Mekhora we also saw hundreds of square meters up in flames, up to the periphery of the settlement and its fruit tree groves, as far as the eye can see. All is black, the color of the arsonists’ soul. Evidently these are controlled fires where the safety of the settlements and army camps are well looked after. The army is burning all of these areas in order to prevent Palestinians from letting their flocks graze. As if stealing all their water and denying them the possibility of tilling their fields were not enough. As if it were not enough to deny them access to most of their lands. Herds of sheep and goats are these farmers’ last resort, but the grazing area is meager and as the summer desiccates it, the Palestinians wander on and on in search of a bit of greenery. But the occupier will not grant them even this, and burns the sparse vegetation in order to prevent even this minimal source of existence. (see photos).