The illegal outpost organized water for itself, law be damned
12:40 Zaatara-Tapuach Junction Checklpoint – no soldiers seen at the checkpoint nor at the hitchhikers’ stops, filled with people waiting for rides.
We visited the three brothers at Makhoul – Yusef was not around, he went to Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage, leaving his exhausted wife with all 6 children (including a 4-month old baby) and the livestock. It was heart-rending to see this charming woman, her eyes reddened, so very thin and tired, who cannot manage to get up before dawn to eat, so she is fasting 24 hours at a time. Yusef’s older sons, 10 and 12-years old, cannot do their religious duty and fast this year because of the heavy work tasks they need to fill on the farm and grazing the herd. Yusef’s brother, Burhan, said about this: “What kind of holiness is this when you abandon your family this way?”
One of the most difficult things we face among the shepherds’ communities is the so very weakened and insubstantial status of the women – suffering both under the Israeli occupation and their own men’s oppressive treatment of them.
Illegal water – the illegal Jewish outpost, illegal even by warped Israeli standards which have issued an order to cease building it and evacuate – has been connected to water! A 10-cm. thick pipe line has been laid from the water tower of settler-colony Hemdat, passing under the main street of that locality to the army base (next to Hemdat), through the nature reserve, all the way to the outpost’s water tank, about one kilometer from the outpost. From this water tank, serving as a lookout tower because of its height, the water flows in an additional pipe to the outpost itself. We heard the water pressure inside the tank. As always, Hemdat has no problem committing an illegal action such as transferring water to an illegal outpost, and most likely Israel’s Jordan Valley regional council is accomplice to the deed. All this happens while the settler-colonists have no water shortage and all the whining by them in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley that “the Palestinians steal our water and we don’t have enough” is nothing but travesty, crocodile tears. The proof: they have no problem sharing their water with another settler colony-outpost when they feel like it. And all of this happens under the army’s nose, hurrying to cut the water pipe that delivered water to Abu Saker from Area A, but ignoring the Jewish pipe leading water to an illegal outpost that settled right in the heart of a nature reserve. Apartheid, anyone?
On the way to the outpost an army jeep and a civilian pick-up truck came towards us. I was standing at the side of the track and suddenly the army jeep accelerated in my direction. If I had not leapt to the side, it would have hit me. Intentionally! I photographed the jeep’s license plate and intend to lodge a complaint.
We also visited M., the shepherd boy, my friend for the past decade. He used to work at Mekhola settler-colony, working with insecticides, without any protection from the toxins used in these materials. After two years, he was diagnosed with cancer (leukemia). He underwent 6 months of harsh treatments at Al-Najah Hospital (Nablus) and was finally released this week so I could visit him at his father’s tent. It is difficult to prove that his leukemia is connected to his working conditions, a job that paid – as is commonly paid Palesitnians – a slave’s pittance: 8 shekels an hour, without any social conditions or health insurance. When he became ill he was simply told, “good bye, we don’t know you and you don’t know us.” This is how Palestinians are employed without any sort of registration or confirmation. The foreman writes them a little note and that’s it. If the worker falls ill or is hurt, his employers deny he ever worked for them. If (once in a blue moon) some supervisor comes along, the workers get a quick one day leave, so as not to have them around. And thus a dedicated worker finds himself without any kind of security or social conditions. Got old? Go home! Sick? Your problem.