Palestinian Jordan Valley
Familiarization with the region: Al Hama, Aqaba, Umm Zuka, Samra, Khalet Makhoul – the army controls the roads and trains in the fields. Multitudes of grazing sheep. Could be idyllic if we didn’t know that behind this marvelous landscape lies an unbearable reality and an unknown future.
10:15 – Vegetable stand at the junction near Furush Beit Dajan
The owners are from Beit Dajan. In the summer they are here, selling wholesale and to individuals near well-tended greenhouses that belong to the owner and other farmers from Beit Dajan. They grow tomatoes for export. The owner told us of the meticulous quality control that these tomatoes undergo and sounds like a good farmer proud of his produce. Ten years ago he was ordered by the Civil Administration to remove the stand and shed, and then they came and demolished them. He rebuilt everything and had ten years of quiet. About a month ago he was ordered to demolish again. From afar we see smoke in the fields, and the man explained that they are burning citrus grove soil in order to prepare it for additional greenhouses.
We left and drove north amidst the breathtaking views of the Palestinian Jordan Valley.
At Makassar we were overtaken by army jeeps, and saw shepherds and flocks by the roadside.
Near Beka’ot dirt tracks are blocked by earthen dykes, fences and gates.
At Mekhola Junction we met G. and A. from Taayush and sat in R.’s encampment with A. who is responsible for the Bedouin issues in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley.
They told us about colonist harassments at Giv’at Sal’it outpost. Taayush volunteers make sure to be there at least twice a week. They accompany the shepherds and are summoned by phone to sites where trouble brews. They say that when they are around, the colonists clear out.
We then drove south to Aqaba and met Haj S. at the village council house. The village is small and neat. At the council house the kindergarten activity was in full swing. We toured their tea plant/shop and the cheese shop with S. He told us the village number about 300 residents. Many leave because they are not issued construction permits for dwellings. His dream is for us to tell everyone about this village, and have busloads of tourists arrive, see for themselves and buy their produce.