Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir
A French group touring Palestine with a Jewish guide.
What does the officer know who’s in charge of keeping the Gochia checkpoint closed.
09:30 Za’tara/Tapuach junction. No inspections, nor when we returned.
At the lookout point above Ma’aleh Efrayim we met a group of women, French tourists, with their guide, a Palestinian from Bethlehem who’s not permitted to enter Israel. One of the women will lead the Israel portion of the tour. Tonight they’ll stay near Ma’aleh Adumim with Bedouin from the Jahalin, who are in danger of expulsion. Their leader, who’ll be their guide in Israel, is a Jewish woman who’s been visiting Israel for many years. She says that she arrived in Israel twenty years ago to discover Zionism, and instead found the Palestinians.
10:10 Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint. No soldiers, nor when we returned. A security camera is installed at the junction, different from those of the traffic police.
10:35 Hamra checkpoint.
Very light traffic at this hour. When we returned at 15:00 six vehicles waited on our side and a similar number on the other side. It’s not clear whether the collective punishment imposed here two weeks ago is still in force (cf. report from 23.2.15). Inspections proceed slowly, alternating vehicles one by one from each side. The rate increases while we’re there, and they also began inspecting from both directions simultaneously (there were enough soldiers to do so). The drivers on line thanked us.
Gochia gate. We stopped to show our guest the gate which hasn’t opened for over a year. The grass that had grown on the path through the gate was proof. And then a military jeep arrived with an officer and a soldier. They came because they’d seen us on the cameras from the nearby Beqaot settlement. We’ve already reported on these cameras, whose main purpose is to ambush shepherds coming too near the settlement’s fence in order to catch them and punish them by illegally detaining them at the Tayasir checkpoint (cf. report from 18.1.15).
We wanted the on-site officer in charge to explain what the purpose is of this gate – which separates Bedouin living on one side from Bedouin living on the other, and together with the ditch and the berm prevent vehicles and tractors from going across. And, they separate the residents from the town of Tamun which could be a center for services (school, clinic, bank, etc.). And especially – why is the gate closed? It seemed he had no idea (he’s fairly new in the area), and what’s more worrisome – he doesn’t’ care, he’s not interested in why he enforces the separation. He muttered something about the need for controlling people going through (Why? Why here, especially?). He also doesn’t know (or didn’t want to say) what is the punishment for someone bypassing the gate, and we’ve already seen vehicles going around it, and drivers who were fined hundreds of shekels. When people are subjected to decrees they’re unable to bear, some will find a way around them.
12:50 Tayasir checkpoint.
Light traffic. One car is parked in the checkpoint area. We thought it was being detained. We asked the driver, who said he has car trouble and they’re repairing it.
On the way we visited a few Bedouin families, as usual, and distributed clothing.
They expressed a desire to participate in beach days; last summer they weren’t able to because of the Gaza war.
We asked about educational services. As you know, almost the entire Jordan Valley is defined as Area C, where Israel is responsible for all civilian services, but provides none (health, education, welfare, roads, etc.), except to the Jews living in the settlements. They comprise one-tenth of the Jordan Valley’s population.
The Palestinian Authority provides educational services at ridiculous rates, cheaper than “free schooling” in Israel. NIS 70/year in elementary school. (It’s worth remembering that prices here are like those in the third world).
We also visited Bisan, the handicapped girl, who’s very excited about her operation at Hadassh hospital in Jerusalem at the end of the month. And all the parents once more thanked Shula and Chana who were able to realize what appeared impossible.