Hamra (Beqaot), Za'tara (Tapuah)

Observers: 
Daphne Banai (reporting), Guests: Yehudit Avidor (Yesh Din), Rajaa Natour (CWp) Translation Tal H.
10/11/2015
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Morning

10:30 Za-atara (Tapuach Junction) Checkpoint
As we arrived, traffic was seen only from the south towards Huwwara and Nablus, and not a single car in the opposite direction. At the car park numerous Border Policemen were seen, but none on the road, and cars were not being inspected. We realized there was a blockage somewhere and proceeded to move towards Huwwara. Some minutes later, we encountered a long and crowded line of cars. Later we were told by a friend from Burin that in the past few days Road 60 near Huwwara is being frequently blocked by the army, whether because of stone-throwing or just so, without any apparent reason. The checkpoint at Tapuach Junction is superfluous because the road is strewn with temporary roadblocks anyway, vehicles can be stopped and inspected any time and routine life disrupted anywhere between Nablus and Ramallah. Near the turnoff to Beita village we see a checkpoint with 5 soldiers pointing their weapons at vehicles, and there are already concrete blocks and a watchtower – not temporary but rather a permanent infrastructure.

 

Maale Efrayim Checkpoint is unmanned both in the morning, and in the afternoon on our way back (16:30).

Military maneuvers / expulsion
Last Monday (9.11) inhabitants of Homsa hamlet living near Bekaot settlement were ordered to evacuate their homes for many hours, nearly all night. They were issued an additional order to evacuate once more on Thursday November 5 from 6 a.m. until midnight, and on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday this week at the same hours. Where will people go on these winter days (Thursday is forecast with storms and rains), with their children, elderly and flocks? From the road we saw numerous army units, tanks and armored cars near the vineyards of Bekaot, but the dirt road there was so flooded with water from the recent downpours that we could not travel it to get to Homsa.

Withholding of water supply / expulsion

En Al Hilwa (Umm Jamal) – the tractor that was confiscated on September 16, 2015 (by means of a some written note which did not contain any personal identifying name and number of the confiscating official) has not yet been returned in spite of efforts made by Hanna Barag and Buma Inbar. The owner has not even been told what he must do in order to get his tractor back. When it was confiscated, he was told by the official that “until you get out of here, you and your family, we shall come and take all of your possessions!” This is the second time this tractor has been confiscated (a month earlier, in the middle of the seething month of August, both the tractor and water tanker were confiscated and returned only 3 weeks later and after paying a 4,500 NIS fine). The tractor serves Sliman to bring water for his 13-person family and to the family of his brother, equally large (nearly all are small children), as well as to his elderly mother , hundreds of sheep and goats and several camels.

Bekaot (Hamra) Checkpoint

One lane is STILL blocked to traffic by plastic obstacles, and the only lane functioning causes serious delays for Palestinians who must use this checkpoint on their way from the Jordan Valley to Nablus and back. On our way there (12:15) 3 vehicles stood waiting to cross. On our way back, 15:30, there were many cars in long waiting lines both on the eastern and western sides of the checkpoint (10-20 cars). A hostile woman-soldier approached us, stating we were not allowed to stand at the checkpoint.l She warns us not to speak with Palestinians because our standing on the road there is not safe. Finally, before she and her mate turn to leave, she says, “Okay, stnd there, hopefully you’ll have a riot. Enjoy”. By her tone we could assume this was no good wish. I have never witnessed a riot at Bekaot (hamra) Checkpoint!

A truck driver told us that often at night the soldiers close off this checkpoint for several hours, whereas it is supposed to be open 24 hours a day. Because they feel like it. Because no one will complain. One of the drivers told us he is very scared to cross the checkpoint – he feels that any wrong word or movement on his part and the soldiers might shoot to kill!