Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah)
On Saturday, during the weekend of the great storm, the army demolished the tents of two families in the northern Jordan Valley. In the course of the eviction one of the women was severely beaten by a soldier and had to be hospitalized. The last few nights have been very cold and the Bedouin, who aren’t connected to the electric grid (as a matter of policy), are having difficulty dealing with it.
10:00 Za’tara checkpoint. No inspections, nothing unusual happening – nor when we returned.
Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint. No soldiers, nor when we returned.
10:45 Hamra checkpoint. In recent months the operation of this checkpoint changes from day to day. On some days cars coming from Area A are checked without the passengers being required to get out for a more rigorous (and slower) inspection, and there are days on which people are removed from cars randomly, or for other reasons, and must undergo a separate inspection in the closed building, including scanning of belongings, going through a magnemometer, etc. (we’re never allowed to enter). That clearly lengthens the inspection and is also humiliating. The checkpoint process is designed to surprise those going through so they won’t know what to expect and won’t be able to organize their schedule appropriately.
Today people had to get out of the cars to be inspected separately. Traffic is light at this hour so the lines aren’t long. We had a pleasant conversation with the checkpoint commander about the utility of checkpoints so far from Israel’s border. We didn’t agree.
Halat Makhoul. This is the village that the Civil Administration (whose function is to provide for the Palestinians’ civilian needs) demolished a few months ago. The residents have returned and rebuilt the structures (sheds and meager shacks) for the people and the sheep and goats, their sole source of income. They complain about bitter cold at night (that night the low temperature in the coastal plain was 5 C, and 1 C in the Jordan Valley). A few young goats died from the cold. We should note they’re not connected to the electric grid (because their village isn’t recognized by the authorities, as is true of all the Bedouin), so they have no heat. It’s dangerous to light fires in the tents or the cloth shacks. And I think to myself: What did the army gain from demolishing the village? Why did they destroy it? After all, they know the people have nowhere else to live. What was the purpose?
12:00 Tayasir checkpoint. Light traffic, as usual at this hour. Two soldiers sit at the entrance to the structure in the middle of the road, looking in our direction. A line of cars forms from the west, behind them, but they don’t turn around. A few minutes pass before they notice and signal the drivers to advance for inspection. As you know, one of the checkpoint rules – perhaps the most important – is that woe betide the driver who dares approach the checkpoint before the soldier tells him to. He’ll be punished severely.
We were told by a Bedouin family in Al Malih about another Bedouin family living near the Maskiyot settlement who’d been expelled from their home, along with their sheep and goats and their children, and all their buildings were demolished. That happened last Saturday. A few months ago they’d received an expulsion order. The excuse: they’re located on a firing range! All the northern Jordan Valley has been designated a firing range. All the Bedouin who live there are breaking the law, and it doesn’t matter whether they’ve been there for generations.
Why was he the one who received the expulsion order?, I ask.
Today he, tomorrow me, is the reply.
After being given the order he approached the Palestinian Authority, who hired an Israeli attorney. That didn’t help either. About two months ago his home was demolished. Not having any choice, he rebuilt it some distance from its previous location. And lo, on Saturday (during the terrible stormy, cold weekend) they came and demolished it again. He, his family, his sheep and his meager belongings, which are all he owns, were left out in the open, in the mud, the rain and the cold.
We were also told the army demolished another habitation that Saturday (tents and sheds), belonging to a Bedouin family in the Bedouin locality of Farasiyya, north of Al Malih. During the evacuation and demolition a soldier beat one of family’s women; she had to go to the hospital. Here, too, the excuse for the beating was that they’re located in a firing range where they’re not allowed to live. They’re not allowed to enter. The entire northern Jordan Valley is a firing range, and all the Palestinians who live there are breaking the law! We have become like Sodom and Gemorrah.
A resident of Farasiyya told us that settlers from Rotem planted olive trees on his land. He was able to obtain a judgment from an Israeli court to get his land back. No one reimbursed him for what he paid his attorney. He had a plot of land that had been expropriated shortly after the 1967 occupation which is now part of the Shdemot Mehola settlement. He asked whether there’s any chance he could get it back. We referred him to Yesh Din.
Some of the settlements in the Jordan Valley, most of which were established in the years immediately after 1967, are located on private Palestinian land.