Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Za'tara (Tapuah)

Observers: 
Nirit Haviv and Daphne Banai
19/07/2016
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Morning
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

The Poor Man’s Lamb – 22-year old Mohammad wishes to marry. As things appear right now, it will take him many more years until he can put up a family tent… Mohammad works in a Jewish settlement, earns 70 NIS on an 8-hour workday, without any social benefits or rights. He is not registered anywhere, has no paycheck, and no permit to work or stay at the settlement. If supervision arrives, the foreman smuggles him and other workers out of there, as none of them are registered, and promises that the day’s wages will still be paid.

Mohammad’s brother, too, works in a settlement, Na’ama. He has worked there for 7 years. One day he stepped on a nail that tore his foot. He was fired de-facto without any severance pay, and no health care pay. Ahmad’s medical expenses amounted to 4,000 NIS and he has remained disabled to this day. The money was put up by his disabled father (who had his leg amputated after being wounded by an Israeli army shell).

Even if Mohammad wanted to sue his employer for waiving his rights, he would be required to deposit a sum with the court that greatly exceeds his financial capacity, so he is forced to disclaim any future charges. His exploiter-employer , the settler, would be able to do as he pleases. About the new relevant law, see below. Exploitation knows no limits!

Beach Days for the Children of the Palestinian Jordan Valley
Because of various internal intrigues, apparently beach days for the Palestinian Jordan Valley children will not take place this summer. The Palestinian governor of the area has vetoed this initiative. Everywhere we go, the children and their parents receive us with longing eyes – asking “When’s the trip?” Life in the extreme heat of the Jordan Valley, without water and under threats of home demolitions is so excruciating, and everyone is so looking forward to this treat that the cancellation is heart-rending. We went to Aref, head of the Bedouin Council, to ask him to do what he can to lift this ban. He said he would do his best, but that we should have turned to him first. Games of honor…

We drove to Abu Saker to ask his help in using his connections to solve the electricity problem. Many of the people who received solar systems for power production from the Red Cross are left without electricity because their converters are faulty, and they have no one to fix them. We take them apart and take them to Tel Aviv, send them to Tefen and wait for them to be repaired and returned. This is a process that takes weeks, and in the meantime people are left with no electricity. At night snakes roam the dark encampment and the refrigerator does not work… 79-year old Abu Hal has not had electricity for 6 months now, after his converter came back from repairs in Tefen and still malfunctioned.

Ein Sukkot – near the former border fence with Jordan, among 1-meter tall reeds a lovely, cool pool of water lies hidden. Signs are written here in both Hebrew and Arabic, but we only see (religious) Jews present – a woman swimming with all her clothes and head-kerchief on, a bearded man and 6-7 children on inflatable mattresses and tubes. Real fun. We wondered how they would react if we brought families of our Palestinian friends to this site. Could be nice. In the meantime the Jews have taken over the spot. The pool is surrounded with rows of herbs owned by Palestinians, and behind them are fields fenced in with barbed wire and signs warning of mines.
Across the border fence we see clearly fields and groves planted by settlers on lands confiscated from Palestinians in order to serve as “no man’s land”, and turned over to settlers about ten years ago. The Palestinians are now trying to get back their lands through the Israeli courts.

Checkpoints:
Za’atara at 14:00 and at 19:30 – unmanned, but a Border Police jeep parks at the western entrance to the Junction .
Maale Efrayim at 14:20 and at 19:00 and Beqa’ot/Hamra (at 14:50 and 18:30) are unmanned. At Beqa’ot/Hamra Checkpoint Palestinians approach slowly, hesitantly, looking around and up at the (manned) pillbox watchtower, as if in disbelief before they dare cross.

From “The Marker”, May 11, 2014

MK Shuli Mu’alem and Ayelet Shaked: The Palestinians will deposit bail at the Labor Court. Not the Jews: MK Shuli Mu’alem and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked are promoting the initiative named “Jordan Valley Regulations” whereby Palestinian workers in the Jordan Valley will be required to deposit a sum of money as bail at the Labor Court, whereas Jewish workers and employers who wish to press charges at this court will not have to deposit a single cent. About two years ago “The Marker” (Haaretz economic supplement) publicized the investigation headlined “8 NIS an hour, 16-hour workday, 7-day work week with zero social conditions”. This investigation, also discussed swiftly at the Knesset under the initiative of MK Dov Haneen, detailed the method used by the settler farmers of the (Palestinian) Jordan Valley to exploit their Palestinian workers and not grant them any basic rights such as a paycheck, minimum wages and naturally no vacation or illness time. Nor is there any written work contract between employer and worker so that the farmer might fire the worker at any given moment, even after quite a few years of work.