Why is the Israeli army maneuvering here of all places?
The soldiers train – and the Palestinians split
It’s a sunny winter day in the Palestinian Jordan Valley covered now in greenery and spotted with wild flowers. A lovely pastoral background for numerous military vehicles of all types: tank carriers, bulldozers, tanks, APCs, ambulances etc., all getting ready for a large military maneuver that will take place tomorrow.
32 Palestinian shepherd families will have to pay the price, Anyone living on both sides of the road to Tyassir are evicted from their homes (tents) from sunup to sundown. They go out at dawn with the elderly, the ill, the children, the babies, walk some kilometers to the junction opposite Maskiyot settler-colony, and spend the day there, exposed, until dark. One can only hope there will be no rain. The children will not go to school, the ill will get no medical attention for the road connecting them to the towns of Tyassir and Toubas is blocked.
Why did the army choose to hold maneuvers in an area devoid of any Jewish settler-colonies? Would anyone dare to imagine that settler-colonists be ordered to evacuate their homes for their own army’s maneuvers? This didn’t happen of course. In contrast – Palestinians have been doing this dozens of times.
Next Wednesday, February 13, a military maneuver will be held there again, and once again 32 families numbering about 200 persons will be forced to evacuate their tents and spend the whole day exposed. Again, we hope no rain will be falling.
Military maneuvers – a means of expelling the Palestinian population
Haaretz daily newspaper, a few years back, published a discussion that took place at the Knesset subcommittee on security and foreign affairs, in which the army was represented by Lieutenant Colonel Enav Shalev (I don’t know what his job was then) who spoke about the role of military maneuvers in expelling Palestinian residents:
“When the armies march – people move aside… when we lowered maneuvers, wild weeds grew” (Amira Hass, Haaretz, May 21, 2014)
We visited the M. family at Farsiya: they told us that the Rotem settler-colony security official has been harassing them and preventing them from approaching their grazing grounds east of Allon Road. These pastures, by law, are open to all and sundry, but the settler-colonists, especially at the outposts, chase the Palestinian shepherds away, often with the help of the Israeli army. Without the daily accompaniment of Israeli volunteers of Taayush and other organizations, the shepherds would not be able to survive.
The day following our visit, L. of Farsiya called me and said his shepherd friend A. was arrested by soldiers at the behest of the Rotem security official, although he was grazing his flock far from this settler-colony. He was held in custody at the nearby army base for three hours.
This time we rode Tziva’s pickup truck, and brought “heavy” equipment as well as clothes – chairs for both adults and babies, and other things. We visited Bisan and her family – the paralyzed daughter of Mohammd Al Kabir who was operated on her legs a few years ago thanks to Shuli and Hannah, and saw her grown and pretty, walking with her splints and walker.
We also visited families at Khalat Makhoul.