Hamra (Beqaot), Za'tara (Tapuah)
No soldiers, but there’s a police car at the checkpoint stopping cars and sending them to one side, while there are long lines at the hour when people are hurrying to work, school or simply to live their lives…
The crossing goes slowly. About 15 cars are on line from the west (Nablus), waiting half an hour as each car is slowly checked, including those entering Palestinian Authority territory.
We visited Abu Saker at El Hadadiya. He told us about his 13-year-old son who had been arrested last week by soldiers. He says the security coordinator of the Ro’i settlement called them while his son was grazing their flock of sheep. The soldiers arrived immediately, handcuffed and blindfolded him as if he were a major terrorist, and took him to the Hamra checkpoint where they held him four hours before releasing him. Just like that, with nothing written down, no arrest order, without telling the child or his father why they took him, and to where. The unbearable ease in which even children are detained.
On Monday, 10.3.14, at 16:00, there was a phone call from R.S., who lives in Hadadiya with his family, southeast of the Ro’i settlement. Two hours earlier the settlement security coordinator had called the soldiers, who immediately arrested his two brothers, A. and K. They didn’t say where they were taking them, and why. Calls to the operations center and to the DCO; they knew of the incident, and that the two had tried to cut the fence of the settlement’s greenhouses, that they’re being held at the settlement until the police arrive. The police came, took their IDs, told them to appear the next day at the Ma’aleh Efrayim police station and released them an hour and a half later, 40 km away (the family has no car and there’s no public transportation in the area).
We stopped at the Jordan Valley Solidarity office (the group has split into two locations, one at the old house in the Jiftlik and the other in the building in Fasayl). The building they’re in is partially demolished. The chairman and three volunteers were there (two Palestinians, one a wonderful, bright boy aged 13) and a volunteer from Brazil. They’re trying to sell products made by members of the Jordan Valley women’s empowerment organization – cheese and olive oil products.
Our guest felt ill and remained in the car (the building is inside the village). Suddenly an army jeep arrived and began driving back and forth on the road through the village. It was clear the soldiers wondered what an Israeli car was doing in the middle of a Palestinian village. Eventually the soldiers reached the building. The inhabitants were apprehensive because a few days earlier soldiers had come and wanted to confiscate their cameras, threatened to arrest the foreign volunteers and jail them (and then no one would find them), because, rather than visiting Israel and being amazed at its beauty they prefer to sit here with Arabs (according to the Brazilian volunteer, who called me). I went out to them. Two soldiers with drawn weapons came to the door and asked what I was doing there. I said I was visiting friends. They asked (how could they not?) whether we’re alright. “Why shouldn’t we be alright?” I replied. Then they turned around and left. They went twice more up and down the main street and then drove off.