Halt Makhul . Hamra, Tayasir
· In addition to the drought and the epidemic affecting their cattle, the herders are also suffering from the extensive military exercises in the area.
· The Maskiyot settlers again harassed the Bedouin living nearby.
· The Israel police, who have authority also over the Jewish residents of the occupied territories, conduct “routine inspections” only of Palestinian vehicles.
· A positive aspect of the huge party held near Ro’i on 22 March.
09:15 Za’tara checkpoint/Tapuach junction. The plaza is empty, its entrance blocked. On the side road (from Huwwara) three military jeeps are parked, it’s not clear why. We saw no cars detained.
09:25 Ma’ale Efrayim checkpoint. No soldiers.
09:50 Hamra checkpoint. A taxi leaving the checkpoint is detained for ten minutes. The soldiers took the IDs of the driver and some of the male passengers to be checked. After they closed the building in which passengers were checked, the inspections were quicker. Now, when they inspect IDs via phone or computer, they again take longer. The passengers say they’re being detained longer by the new unit manning the checkpoint. Five minutes later the IDs were returned.
Cars heading west to Area A are inspected quickly.
A truck driver tells us he was detained at the checkpoint for two hours last week. When he asked why they told him his vehicle’s license number appeared on a special list. We gave him the phone number of the humanitarian office in case he’s detained again.
When we returned at 12:50, inspection of vehicles entering the Jordan Valley was much faster.
This village was demolished by the army in October, 2013. Soldiers in jeeps arrive from time to time, threatening the residents, telling them they’re not allowed to live there.
Visit to D.’s family. The main problem faced by the Bedouin, who make a living from raising sheep and cattle, is the severe drought expected this year. There’s little pasture, and what there is will soon dry up. Then they’ll have to buy hay, which comes from Israel. At present it’s forbidden to bring hay through the checkpoints from Israel. Apparently it will be permitted in another month or two. In addition, calves have recently been sickened by some illness and many have died. Medication they received didn’t help. The disease is spreading throughout the region. And if that wasn’t enough, the army continues to conduct frequent exercises and closes many areas to grazing.
Visit to A.’s family. Last week settlers from Maskiyot grabbed a donkey belonging to the family. There’s a military preparatory program for Orthodox youth at the settlement whose students harass area residents in various ways, usually with the backing of the settlement security coordinator. The family went to the police; the donkey was returned.
14:15 Ma’ale Efrayim checkpoint. A police car is parked at the checkpoint. A policeman accompanied by an armed soldier stop Palestinian cars. In most cases they talk for a minute or two with the driver and then release him. A truck was detained for a long time because of document inspection conducted in the vehicle. At the same time, cars with Israeli license plates sped through. A policeman who approached us explained it was a routine police inspection. We forgot to ask him why it’s routine only with respect to Palestinians and tried to imagine what his response would have been. We also noticed that most of the cars entering the Jordan Valley (70-80%) had Israeli license plates. There’s no Palestinian public transportation on this main highway between the Jordan Valley and the West Bank. The goal of the military regime, to separate the Jordan Valley from the remainder of the West Bank, has in large measure been achieved.
A new road has been build leading north from Highway 505, a kilometer or two west of Tapuach junction. It’s a high quality road, up to Israeli standards (unlike most roads in the area, including Highway 505). It seems to lead to the quarry visible from the road. We assume the quarry is run by Jews. Another example of the illegal exploitation by the occupying power of natural resources located in occupied territory.
A different aspect of the huge outdoor dance party held near Ro’i on March 22.
We were told that young Palestinians from the area came to the party and celebrated together with the Jews. It sounds surreal, given the apartheid existing on the West Bank between rulers and subjects. But it happened. A small point of light.