Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim
No military activity, other then guards in the two watchtowers, when we came and when we returned.
A new watchtower has been erected at the junction next to the turnoff to the Jordan Valley.
10:10 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint
There are two military vehicles, a tank transporter without tanks, and a few soldiers near the watchtower. The checkpoint isn’t operating – that is, vehicles aren’t being stopped. The checkpoint was empty on our way back.
The fields of the Gitit settlement, which had been leased in previous years, aren’t under cultivation. Is it because there’s no demand for the produce, or that the state discovered the fraud of a settlement leasing land it received free, for which it doesn’t even pay rent, and also sells its water allotment for an exorbitant price.
10:35 Hamra checkpoint
A police vehicle parks at the eastern entrance to the checkpoint. Policemen have stopped a truck, thereby blocking the checkpoint entrance. A female soldier approaches them to inquire, returns, then a male soldier arrives (apparently the checkpoint commander), also returns, and the delay continues. The truck driver gets out, speaks with the policeman. He returns holding a piece of paper.
We spoke to the driver. The paper is a traffic ticket, including a fine of NIS 250, but we weren’t able to read what the violation was. The driver doesn’t read Hebrew, of course; the violation is specified in Hebrew.
Eight youths arrived at the metal container that serves as a shelter from the sun. They’d harvested grapes at the Beqa’ot settlement for NIS 50/day, without benefits. They said the policeman has told them to wait. They must go through the checkpoint to reach their homes. I went back to the policeman to inquire. He replied angrily that I should be wearing a reflective vest; he won’t speak with me until I do. Then he moved to an area of the checkpoint where I’m not allowed to stand. I asked the soldiers why the youths were detained; it turned out they’d been taken off a taxi carrying too many passengers. They’re allowed to go through the checkpoint; no one would detain them. And so they did.
It’s been closed to Palestinians for at least a year. We went over to see what had developed in the contest between the local residents who must go through here, and must find alternate routes because it’s closed, and the Israel Defense Forces, which blocks and digs up each new path Palestinians use to reach Tamun or beyond, for schools, shops, clinics, etc.
Residents were supposed to participate in a beach day as part of our colleagues’ project, together with people from El Malih. However, ten days ago a 17-year-old youth, Sahar Burhan Ali Drajma, was shot and killed. His extended family, which lives in El Malih, is in deep mourning. In solidarity, the residents of Makhoul didn’t go on the Tel Aviv trip this year, even though they had been looking forward to it. For them, it’s truly a dream.
A visit to a family in El Malih, members of the Darajma tribe
The extended family is mourning the youth’s sudden, unexplained death. On Saturday, June 21, he had been grazing his sheep near El Malih, not far from the army base. The flock returned to the encampment without him; members of the family went looking for him. They found him dead; the body was taken to Abu Kabir for an autopsy. A rifle bullet was found in his heart. The family was told he was killed playing with ammunition he’d found in the field (the army holds live-fire exercises throughout the area). The body was re-examined in Abu Dis; they concluded the shot came from a distance.
A boy about 15 years old was present in the tent we visited. He’s meant to graze the family’s sheep. He says he’s afraid to do so because of what happened.