Hamra (Beqaot), Khirbet Makhul
After a lengthy absence (for health reasons) we returned to the Palestinian Jordan Valley. During that time we kept in touch with many peace activists and Palestinian inhabitants, so we were not faced with too many surprises. I was glad that during my absence peace activists of numerous groups as well as individuals came to the region nearly daily. Of Machsomwatch I would like to commend Rina and her daughter who arrived every Saturday, as well as others - activists of Taayush (Guy and others), Combatants for Peace, Socially Engaged Dharma and many others. They accompanied Palestinian shepherds to their grazing grounds, built playgrounds, brought over veterinarians and volunteers to treat sheep stricken by an epidemic, and helped vaccinate and clean sheep pens and cowsheds. These activists reported the goings-on in the Palestinian Jordan Valley on a regular basis.
11:45 – the Palestinian home overlooking Hamra Checkpoint: the family told us about their distress as a result of the closure during Passover. M. works in the tomato greenhouses that were established this year instead of the orange groves below his home. The closure produced a marketing problem for the farmers and tomatoes were being sold for 7 shekels per 10 cartons!
15:15 – soldiers man Hamra Checkpoint and slowly inspect cars moving from the Jordan Valley bound for Nablus. Every vehicle has to wait for minutes until the soldier signals it to approach. When we got there, 20 cars were already waiting in line. As we approached the checkpoint, the soldiers went inside the pillbox post and the checkpoint was opened for free traffic. Mahmoud told us earlier that nearly every day at this hour this is what happens – the time when Palestinians come home from work.
We visited three families in Makhoul – Yousef and Najia, Bourhan and Samhar, and the youngest son Ashraf and his wife Rima. All three women are pregnant. This is Samhar’s tenth pregnancy (she already has 8 daughters and one son), and Najia, her sister, is pregnant for the ninth time. 23-year old Rima is pregnant for the fourth time, after her last son, Rami, was born with serious defects in his heart and lungs.
On our way home at 18:30, not a single soldier was seen at the checkpoint and traffic flowed unimpeded.