Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Tue 18.6.13, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
In Khameyr, near Mehola, there’s a small community of people living in tents who make a living from agriculture and grazing flocks; they own the lands they cultivate. About a week ago they received orders instructing them to leave the land permanently within 15 days, with no reference to where they’ll live or what they’ll live on. It’s one more step, like preceding ones, in the dispossession and expulsion of the Bedouin population in the northern Jordan Valley.
Two days ago settlers from Aish Kodesh again attacked the residents of Qusra, damaged their guard shack and cut down approximately ten olive trees.
13:30 Tapuach-Za’tara junction
Traffic jams in every direction. The cause isn’t clear. We saw no soldiers or police. It may be connected to the traffic jam we encountered on our way back (see below). Dafna, who accompanied a film crew the same day, wrote about the checkpoints at the Za’tara junction.
13:45 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
When we returned at 18:00 soldiers were inspecting vehicles coming from the west.
14:20 Hamra checkpoint
Light traffic at this hour. People traveling in both directions aren’t asked to get out of their cars. The pedestrian checkpoint isn’t operating. Inspections are rapid in both directions.
15:45 Tayasir checkpoint
A bus with a yellow license plate crosses from west to east (from Area A to Area C) without being inspected.
The same kind of inspection is conducted in both directions – each car waits for a signal to advance. The IDs of all passengers are checked, a few questions are asked. Sometimes they also check the trunk. It isn’t necessary to get out of the vehicle when it goes through. The pedestrian checkpoint here isn’t operating either.
No traffic jams because traffic is very light. There are no cars at the checkpoint for long periods of time.
Hamam el Malih – Five months ago an encampment was demolished which contained some tents belonging to an elderly couple living with their granddaughter, and their small flock. We see that the couple erected two new tents in their compound. Till now they feared returning lest their meager belongings would be looted again. As far as we know the Red Cross assisted them and also provided the new tents.
The army issued expulsion orders to approximately five families living in the Bedouin encampment of Khameyr, near Mehola, despite the fact they own the lands they cultivate. They turned to the Palestinian Authority which is providing legal assistance through an attorney it employs. We were given the information בעברית כתוב "עדויות"by Fathi Kudirat, from Jordan Valley Solidarity, and from K., who lives in the area.
A tale of a settler’s lost sheep
A sheep ran away from the Maskiyot settlement and reached A.K.’s nearby tent encampment. He notified the army or the police. They arrived immediately and took him (the honest finder) to the Ma’aleh Efrayim police station where they fined him (it’s not clear why) NIS1500!
We learned from past experience with the Ma’aleh Efrayim police station that they don’t come when the situation is reversed – when settlers from Maskiyot had, more than once, stolen livestock from Bedouin living nearby. The most they do is telephone the settlement’s military security coordinator and accept his denials without verifying them. Even in cases where the thefts were confirmed, no one was ever punished. At most they had to return what had been stolen.
Moreover, they quickly impose heavy fines on the Palestinians, and it’s difficult to understand where they find the clauses to justify them (for example, crossing the road with a flock of sheep- more than NIS 1000). That’s a huge sum for Bedouin in the Jordan Valley, given they earn NIS 70-90 a day.
Settlers from Aish Kodesh again attacked residents of the village of Qusra and damaged their property.
We picked up a hitchhiker from Qusra who told us that at night, two days ago, settlers cut down approximately ten olive trees and damaged a small building standing in the field. The army regularly patrols between Qusra and Aish Kodesh to prevent damage and provocations but they didn’t notice the hoodlums. The police and the DCO came but did nothing.
On our way back we were stuck in a huge traffic jam near the village of Aqraba. Soldiers stopped traffic in both directions; they said the reason was a rumor that a soldier had been kidnapped. We waited 25 minutes until the road was opened, and then went through two checkpoints where passing vehicles were inspected.