Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Za'tara (Tapuah)
Photo of preparations for the dance:
The huge area prepared for the dance party for the Jews
11:00 Tapuach checkpoint, Za’tara junction – Not manned, nor are there soldiers at the hitchhiking station on the road to Ramallah so the traffic flows normally. Two armed soldiers and a tent on a hill above the junction.
11:20 Ma’ale Efrayim – The checkpoint is manned by two soldiers. Cars coming from the Jordan Valley to the West Bank are inspected.
12:20 Hamra checkpoint – Empty. No traffic; the soldiers sit on the concrete barriers doing nothing. We didn’t stop.
We visited the Jordan Valley Solidarity house at the Jiftlik. The residents tell us that a military patrol jeep arrived yesterday, the soldiers entered the house, asked why there’s a Palestinian flag on the wall (inside the house) and order it be removed. They ignored the request. Nor did the soldiers like the photos – building demolitions, demonstrations, construction of a school, etc. - but they left after half an hour. The jeep remained threateningly all night in the parking area in front of the house.
Bezeq checkpoint – Palestinians told us that Israel is no longer allowing hay to be brought from Israel to the West Bank. In the past farmers in the northern West Bank, including residents of the Jordan Valley, bought feed and hay in Israel. The merchandise arrived in Israeli trucks
at the Bezeq checkpoint in the northern Jiftlik where it was transferred “back-to-back” to Palestinian trucks. Because Israel steals water from the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, farmers in the West Bank aren’t able to grow feed for their animals and must buy it from Israel. Hay hasn’t been allowed in for two months. A female soldier at the checkpoint confirmed this; she said the reason was “it’s not the season now.” Perhaps. So we’ll wait for summer. If they don’t allow Palestinians to import hay during this dry year when all the fields are withered and dry, the sheep and cattle will die.
There’s a small café at the checkpoint; I walked to the area behind it to see whether any merchandise was going through. There was none. A security person came over, didn’t say a word. After we sat down in the café, seven security people arrived (including two women), surrounded us, and with threatening looks asked what we were doing there, and who we were. I said I’m from Machsom Watch. They turned and left without saying anything.
East of the Alon road, opposite the Ro’i settlement and next to the Gochia gate, in the firing range, we saw colorful sheets of canvas behind the hill and drove to see what they were. Many young people with dreadlocks were constructing a stage big enough for the Yarkon Park and erecting a fence around an area about 500 meters in diameter. More than 100 portable toilets stood in two rows. In response to my question (I introduced myself as a local resident who wanted to attend) they said they were getting ready for a huge electronic music party organized by Moksha. The polite organizer referred me to a website where I could buy tickets for NIS 220. Had a Palestinian shepherd entered that area, marked with signs proclaiming “Firing range – entry prohibited” he would have been arrested, his flock confiscated and he’d have been fined thousands of shekels. While the Jews hold dance parties in that same place, with police permission, to the sound of electronic music!
Last week a few dozen Palestinians arrived at the nearby area (Gochia gate) and demonstrated against cutting off the Jordan Valley from the West Bank. The army sent jeeps to confront them and many were arrested. The party, which was held Saturday, 22.3.14, was stopped because of multiple casualties (heatstroke, alcohol, drugs, and one person who had been hit on the head).
Ma’ale Efrayim – not manned.
17:00 Za’tara checkpoint/Tapuach junction is manned coming from the north. Long lines stretch farther than we can see.
Tuesday, 18.3.14, Abu Saker called and told us that 30 notables from Jenin and Tubas came to visit him through Gochia gate. They wanted to go through on foot (which normally isn’t prohibited – but is today!). Minibuses awaited them on the other side. The army again sent jeeps which prevented them from going through. All the phone calls to the DCO and the operations center were met with “we’ll look into it,” so the people waited two and a half hours. They were finally informed they couldn’t cross and turned back to the West Bank. If anyone’s forgotten – the Jordan Valley is an integral part of the West Bank, and it’s completely illegal to prevent movement between the two areas!!