Jordan Valley - war!!!!
The Jordan Valley was conquered anew this week. Hundreds of vehicles (“camouflaged” Hummers)
with cannons and machine guns on their roofs, tanks, “mobile communication units,” planes, explosives – all ignite the yellowing fields in this battered region. Above Furush Beit Djan and above Humasa, behind Hadida, in the Umm Zuqa nature preserve and next to El Malih – pillars of smoke and charred fields left behind by the world’s most moral army.
And the residents, those above whose fields and homes and sheep the artillery shells fly – were ordered to evacuate their homes from 13:00 (it began only at 15:00) until 19:00. In the burning sun all the Palestinians living in the area between Maskiyot and the Tayasir checkpoint move east and relocate to Ein el Hilweh. The men shelter in the shade of the sole tree in the area, the women and dozens of children beneath a short bridge on the road to Tayasir. Expelled from their homes. And only one old man, a salaried employee from elsewhere, who wanted to reach his home in Tayasir, was left behind and sat by the road to wait for a car which may not even pass by. We told him the road is closed and artillery shells are about to fly overhead, and he shrugged and said, “Then I’ll die here!” Five minutes later a taxi passed and took him.
Everyone is very worried. They left behind all their worldly possessions – the sheep and their tents and their fields they’d labored to sow and cultivate throughout this past well-watered winter. Now it’s all at heaven’s mercy.
Military maneuvers in North Korea aren’t a greater demonstration of massive, terrifying military power than what’s occurring in the Jordan Valley. When you see this show of force you understand what a frightening, militaristic nation we are. Perhaps that’s the point of the exercise – to show the Palestinians the army’s reach – so they’ll see and fear it!!
But there is also good news –
Tayasir checkpoint, which had been hell for Palestinians since the first day we came to the Jordan Valley, and long before then, is open freely!!! For now, at least. The soldiers haven’t gone home. They’re here, in the guard tower at the checkpoint, but for two days traffic has gone through with no delay as if there had never been a checkpoint there. We also drove through to Tayasir, for no reason, just to feel good, and visited M., our friend, who accompanied us all day.
And so you’ll understand just how absurd it is – 20 kilometers away, on the same longitude dividing the Jordan Valley from the remainder of the West Bank, the Hamra checkpoint operates as usual, and one lane is still blocked and traffic in both directions uses the remaining lane. Long lines stretch to the west and to the east, and Palestinians still wait for the soldier to gesture with his finger to allow them to cross from one occupied area to another occupied area…
And to even things out – at five in the afternoon we saw three soldiers descend from the guard tower at the Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint, which hasn’t been manned for some time.