Dura-Al Fawwar Junction, Sansana (Meitar Crossing), South Hebron Hills
Today we drove only to At-Tuwani, near Havvat Ma’on.
Highway 317 was pretty empty. The verge of the desert appeared as green as could be. It reminded Nurit of Tuscany.
White patches are still visible on the distant hills, the remains of the weekend snow.
In all the settlements – Susya, Ma’on and Carmel – we clearly see the new neighborhoods under construction.
We decided to meet the internationals from Italy who have been there for three-month shifts for the past five years. Nurit also hoped to meet acquaintances from Combatants for Peace. I was happy to meet A. whom I know well from previous visits. He’s here again. He was alone in their apartment; his friends went down to the valley with the shepherds grazing their flocks.
A’ tells us that in recent months the army arrives every day, on time. We were glad to hear it. But no soldier gets out of the jeep to escort the children, as had been agreed. The jeep drives slowly by the roadside and the children walk. Nor do the soldiers escort them all the way to the barns and the chicken coops, as had been agreed, claiming they’re following orders. The children have 100-200 meters to cross alone in the most threatening area below Havvat Ma’on.
To remind you: the children from Umm Tuba pass each morning below Havvat Ma’on on their way to school in A-Tawwani. In order to prevent harassment by settlers it was agreed they’ll be escorted each morning by the IDF (a “brilliant” arrangement, of course). The road which was promised to be paved isn’t completed either and one section is still difficult to traverse in the winter.
Recently something resembling a huge tent has been erected next to Havvat Ma’on and one settler wanders around there at the moment. It looks like the beginning of an expansion. We should keep track.
A’ says that the IDF’s attitude toward them depends on the soldiers. Some behave well, politely, and are will to talk to them, and others are rude, do the settlers’ bidding. It’s important to note that there are very close, symbiotic relations between the IDF and the settlers.
The main problem at the moment is that the shepherds are being harassed. The settlers create provocations almost daily with claims they’re trespassing and supposedly grazing on their lands and they keep bringing the IDF.
The last time two youths, aged 16 and 18, were detained was on February 6.
The IDF was called and held them from 11:30 in the morning and released them only at 8 PM.
A, the young Italian, says there’s a court case about ownership of the lands…
Again we passed the house in Dir’at that had been set on fire and saw the word “vengeance” hadn’t yet been erased.
Again we saw the Red Cross tents providing temporary housing for the four families from Rifawiyya whose home had been demolished, and also the rubble, which hadn’t been removed.
Back to Highway 60.
At Kvasim junction and at Dura al-Fawwar junction traffic is flowing. There were no roadblocks or any military presence.
The Beit Haggai checkpoint on the road to Hebron is open.
The Meitar checkpoint operated normally when we arrived and also when we left.