Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 9.7.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Another device for harming the Bedouin in the northern Jordan Valley, using the National Parks Authority, is by impounding grazing cattle on the basis of various excuses, usually “obstructing traffic” (which is very sparse) on the Jordan Valley roads. The National Parks Authority's military liaison officer employs a contractor to gather straying cattle, quarantine them and impose stiff fines on their owners, when they come to retrieve them. The amount of the fine, determined by the number of cattle impounded, is set by him arbitrarily. Thus a private contractor implements the policy of expropriating Bedouins.
This pracvtice wouldn’t have been possible if the local population were stronger, better educated, better connected, better able to fight for its rights. There’s nothing easier than screwing the weak over.
09:30 Za’tara/Tapuach junction
An armored military vehicle parks in the plaza, ten soldiers in a circle alongside, perhaps being briefed. Another military pickup truck and some vehicles with yellow license plates are parked there. No Palestinian detainees. There’s a soldier in the guard tower at the junction.
Empty when we entered the Jordan Valley, and when we left.
Only vehicles are inspected, and only those heading east (entering the Jordan Valley), more or less rigorously. No lines because traffic is sparse.
One of the drivers, a resident of Tamun, says the checkpoint is ok today but sometimes you have to wait a long time.
With K., from the D. family
We’re told that A., a resident of Hamam el Malih, whose cattle had entered the army base at el Malih through a gap in the fence, contacted the police and the Civil Administration. In response they confiscated 7 of his cows and took them to a compound near the Adam Bridge, and he was fined NIS 10,000. The cows were to guarantee payment of the fine. I was told at the Jericho DCO that the person responsible for catching the cows and collecting the fines works for the National Parks Authority in the Jordan Valley; his name is Noam. A. had no choice other than to pay the fine.
A year ago K. contacted me; he lives near that same army base. He asked for help in retrieving his cows that had entered the base through a gap in the fence. I learned that there are gaps in the base’s fence that aren’t repaired, and according to soldiers at that base, about 20 cows wandered around there on a permanent basis. The problem was solved when the base commander asked K. to come remove the cows.
After investigations in the bureaucratic thickets of the occupation regime it seems that Noam is a contractor employed by the Civil Administration National Parks Authority liaison officer in Beit El, and apparently is subordinate to the Deputy Liaison Officer, Amir Aloni, with whom I hadn't manage to speak. I talked to Noam, who said that he operated under a general order dealing with wandering livestock. He got a call and caught the cows. He “does a favor” to the owners by “impounding only seven cows.” The fine is computed according to (I quote) “the expense of rounding them up and the number of trips (i.e., the number of cows he decides to catch), etc.” The owner receives notice of the fine from the Civil Administration. Noam says that there’s an officer at the Jericho DCO in charge of catching livestock, in contradiction to what I was told by that DCO’s operations office that they have no connection to Noam’s activities.
In conclusion: The National Parks Authority, a government body charged with protecting the environment, serves in the Jordan Valley as a punitive organization imposing large fines on the Bedouin who are extremely poor, and harasses them with baseless complaints. The goal, obviously, is to get them out of the Jordan Valley.
12:00 Tayasir checkpoint
The army base adjoining the checkpoint has been abandoned. We were told that some children from Tayasir who entered the base to see what they could find were caught by soldiers after one of them had been bitten by a snake and taken to the hospital. The rest of the children were released soon after.
Inspections at the checkpoint are conducted while people traveling in both directions are allowed to remain in their vehicles.
A visit to the A. family
They have an 8-year-old daughter, Bisan, who was born with a spinal defect which prevents her from standing or controling her sphincter. When she was two weeks old she was operated on in the Ramallah hospital, where the family was told she’d never walk. Our colleague, Shula Bar, is trying to find out what can be done to review that diagnosis.