Hamra (Beqaot), Za'tara (Tapuah)
Army maneuvers near Gittit
A gate in the Jordan border fence
10:45 Za’tara/Tapuach junction – Vehicles aren’t inspected but soldiers sit under the observation tower. Soldiers sit in an armored car at the hitchhiking station on Highway 60 heading toward Ramallah.
In the middle of a field (belonging to Palestinians, of course), near the entrance to the Gittit settlement, dozens of tanks park. Shepherds living in the Aqraba area said the soldiers told them they’ll be on maneuvers there for two weeks (the soldiers told us one week). On Friday, 24.4, three days after the day of this report, I drove by and the soldiers were no longer there. Friday was Independence Day and apparently the maneuvers were suspended for the holiday. So why did they destroy the field? For a single day? The destroyed field belongs to a Palestinian from Aqraba.
A settler from the Qedumim settlement kept us from entering that area and was happy to tell us that his aunt was a member of Machsom Watch, expounded empty slogans about the Land of Israel and the murderous nature of the Arabs, but at least wasn’t hostile and willingly listened to what we had to say.
Hamra checkpoint – The traffic in both directions still uses only one lane; the second lane is blocked. Long lines all day as a result.
We paid a brief visit to Khalat Makhoul. They’re recovering from the demolition of their homes in March.
We drove along the Jordan border fence. The fence along Highway 90 is electrified and topped by cameras and signs warning of mines, with a gate every few kilometers. Some of the land beyond the fence, which was once called the “demilitarized zone,” belongs to Palestinians from the West Bank, expropriated from them after the 1967 war “for military purposes.” When peace broke out with Jordan and there was no longer need for a demilitarized zone the land wasn’t returned to its legal owners but was granted to settlers. They received keys to the gages and to this day go through with Thai workers to cultivate the fertile soil. The Palestinians wearily observe their land bearing fruit for others. Recently a number of Palestinians sued to get their lands back, and when the court asked the government’s representative why the lands hadn’t been returned to their legal owners he replied, “I don’t know, it was a long time ago!!” Incidentally, the former demilitarized zone on the Jordanian side is also under cultivation, up to the border. But there it’s being done by the legal owners.