Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah)
10:30 Za’tara/Tapuach junction checkpoint
No soldiers in position; two Border Policemen wander around the plaza, not stopping vehicles.
10:45 Ma’aleh Efrayim
No soldiers, neither when we returned in the afternoon.
13:30 Hamra checkpoint
Traffic flows, one lane is blocked, the same when we returned in the afternoon. We were told there’s congestion in the late afternoon.
Open freely to traffic. A huge bulldozer is parked inside the checkpoint compound. Preparing for demolitions? (Demolitions were carried out the following day in Homsa)
It’s north of Jericho, in the southern Jordan Valley. Water flows copiously. Some of this year’s abundant rainfall still flows through the elaborate network of canals built by the Jordanians before 1967. The network served the town of el Auja and the surrounding villages, and also fed the Dead Sea. But the many years of neglect are evident. The dams are rusted and some of the canals are damaged. Palestinian families are having a good time in the trees’ shade and the channels where water flows. Children jump into the cool water with inner tubes and air mattresses. In a month or two this will all dry up because of Israel’s huge pumps (Na’aran 1, 2, 3, 4) which steal all the water from the Palestinians for the benefit of the settlements.
Effects of military exercises
A large military exercise was conducted in the Jordan Valley at the beginning of May, during which many residents were, as usual, chased from their homes for a few days and forced to find shelter for themselves and their flocks under bushes or bridges, crowded together and frightened, until the firing stopped. The rockets set afire the fields the Palestinians had worked hard to cultivate (and because of this year’s rains the crop was bountiful), and the unexploded ammunition, the thousands of shells and other live ammunition that the army, criminally negligent, leaves behind injures and kills shepherds, most of whom are just children. I was told an investigation by the Palestinian Authority determined that one of the youths was injured on 22.5.15 by a discarded phosphorous shell(!!!), whose use is prohibited by international law. On 19.5 the firing caused a huge fire which destroyed thousands of dunums of crops, from the Kfir base (near Hemdat) to near the Tayasir checkpoint. With no help from the army, and without running water, the residents fought the fire and lost. On the other hand, planes easily extinguished the flames that came near the Kfir base. One of the people fighting the fire was badly injured when the heat of the flames exploded live ammunition and shrapnel penetrated his head.
Child-slaves in the settlements
A group of some 15 laborers stood on a path leading to fields opposite the entrance to the Gilgal settlement, waiting for transportation at the end of the work day. It was 13:00 and the sun blazed. They were children aged 10-14, running around and arguing like children throughout the world. When we approached them they told us happily that they work in the fields of green peppers. They were very curious about us, and when we told them we’re Jews from Tel Aviv they rained questions on us. They arrive from the West Bank at 05:00, and work eight hours until early afternoon.