Hamra (Beqaot), Maale Ephrayim, visits with families in the Jordan Valley
Visit with families in the Palestinian Jordan Valley, Hamra Checkpoint,
Maale Efrayaim Checkpoint.
With the Sabih family in Khalat Khader
In our last visit, two weeks ago, we arrived shortly after the Civil Administration had demolished their home for the second time. This time no one was home. Neighbors told us they had gone to Tubas. A small new tent, which they received from the Red Cross, stood at the site, containing all their worldly belongings, in immaculate order: mattresses, blankets, a few small crates, a small chest with kitchen utensils, an old gas burner, and outdoors stood several plastic chairs. That’s it. The two elderly parents and their young son conduct their lives in a tent of about 32 sqm. The tent, not water-proof, is covered with a plastic sheet. Next to it is a water tank, like most other tents, since no water is supplied to the tent dwellers. They pay for the water and its transport, and this makes water so much more expensive than the price paid for running water (faucets and irrigation) in the Jewish settlements. Interestingly, the family left all its belongings unlocked (we entered the tent easily), certain that no one would steal them. They live far from the road. At some distance, in the shade of a tree, three women sat and picked pea pods from a pile of pea plants. They live in Tubas and own a piece of land here. Today they were picking peas.
With the family of Hamed Daragma
In Khalat Khader we saw a flock of sheep inside a fenced yard, and a Red Cross tent next to it. No one was there. The neighbors said they live near Road 90, opposite the entrance to Mehola settlement. Apparently the family does live there, in a site that receives electrical power. The family includes elderly parents and four sons. The flock at Khalat Khader belongs to them, and one of the sons sleeps there and keeps watch. They make their living from the flock and from farming. From earlier visits with families we have learned that this area has irrigated crop farming, especially vegetables, in leased plots of land. The owners live in Tubas and their link to the land is reduced to collecting lease fees. They buy water from well owners and electricity from Jews; it’s not clear at what prices.
Regarding the demolition of tents: we asked why the tents of some inhabitants were destroyed while others were not. We were told that Mehola settlers dictate to the army which inhabitants’ dwellings to destroy. We have no idea whether this claim is based on facts.
We traveled to Al Ajaj to show our guests the demolition rubble there, and the miserable dwelling conditions of the inhabitants, even after restoration. I do not know why, but here we are not as welcome as elsewhere; we are not invited into the people’s homes. This time we were received in an especially hostile manner by a young fellow who had just returned from work while we were on our way out. Even with my meager knowledge of Arabic I understood that he felt hostile towards Israel and Israelis, and for him Palestine stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and has no room for Jews. He sneered as we introduced ourselves as human rights activists – what rights were we talking about?
In another conversation we held today about the “situation” with another family, we asked what was their preferred solution to the conflict. They answered that they preferred Israeli rule to Palestinian rule (especially in view of what they see in the neighboring countries), but only with equal rights for all and fair treatment of minorities. So there, just like Jews, Palestinians too are not of one mind.
At Ariel Junctionwe saw armed soldiers securing the hitchhikers’ post on the way east.
Above Kablan village an army jeep was parked along the road.
On our way back we saw an army vehicle at the Zaatara/Tapuach Junction.
10:25 Hamra Checkpoint-few vehicles, only one lane operating.
15:30 Maale Efrayim Checkpoint – two armed soldiers going up the watchtower.