Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Za'tara (Tapuah)
Ariel Junction – 10:30
A number of soldiers guard the hitchhiking station in the eastern direction. This prevents the Palestinians from standing beside them.
About six soldiers at the inspection station from the direction of Huwwara. A Palestinian taxi was delayed and afterward released to go on its way.
At the hitchhiking station in the southern direction – 2 soldiers on guard.
Ma’ale Efrayim Checkpoint – 11:10
Hamra Checkpoint – 11:30
For a couple of months only one lane is open to cars approaching from both directions. In the busiest hours of the morning and afternoon, this made for heavier traffic. At this hour the traffic is light and there are no long lines.
When we returned at 15:30,six cars stood in line from the eastern direction. We were unable to stay to see what the waiting time was.
The Vineyard of the Bi’qot Settlement
A group of armed soldiers gets off the bus alongside the vineyard; obviously reserve soldiers, they prepared for training. This is the first time that we see soldiers enter an area that belongs to the settlers (although only in the fields, outside the settlement’s border). Despite this, they often train in Bedouin encampments and make them (the Bedouins) leave the camps for the whole day, and even at night.
Not too far from them stood three Palestinian who work in the settlement. We approached them and asked if it bothers them that the soldiers there; they say “No.” We ask about the conditions of their employment. They earn 64 NIS for an 8-hour workday and that includes all the social benefits that they do not get (sick days, yearly vacation, compensation for being fired, etc.) It also includes travel expenses. They live in Batmon, a distance of about 8 kilometers, but because the Gochya Gate is closed, they must travel a distance of some tens of kilometers (and pay travel expenses accordingly) via the Hamra Checkpoint.
We passed by Gochya Gate which blocks the way west to El Tamun, the nearby city, among other places. Around the gate piles of dirt have been raised, barring the residents from passing through it. Also, a ditch has been dug to prevent traffic coming from the Alon road.
All those blockades, in addition to the checkpoints, separate the Jordan Valley from the other parts of the West Bank, reminding us that the Israeli government intends to leave the Jordan Valley in Israeli hands, even in the case of a political settlement (I am cautious about saying “peace”).
We came to photograph B.’s lambs who lie alongside their mothers in the fenced area, with no protection from the sun. B. wants to cover the place with a metal roof.
According to the weather forecast, in another three days there will be rain storms (they did occur on 31.12). Without a roof, the lambs will die. When he put up the roof, soldiers came and destroyed it. There is now a lawyer who will appeal to the Israeli courts to allow B. to cover the place where the lambs are.
Dafna requested that we photograph the lambs in the sun in order to present the photos to the court.
B. told us about the behavior of the soldiers who have come to destroy the roof. It happened two weeks ago. The soldiers arrived before morning. The whole family was sleeping. They ordered everyone to leave the tent, allowing the one-year-old baby and his mother to remain inside. The soldiers spilled their containers of oil and food on the ground. The Bedouin generally buy basic foodstuffs (flour, rice, oil) in sacks, in order to economize. Those last them a few months. Now everything has gone down the drain. The officer was angry because he thought that B.’s household was laughing at him.