12:00 Tapuach-Zaatara Junction Checkpoint
Inspection posts unmanned, but soldiers are present at the hitchhikers’ stations on both sides of the junction. On the western side, a manned army jeep is stationed.
We drove to the town of Huwarra to purchase medication for one of the Makhoul residents (there is no pharmacy or any other kind of shop in the northern part of the Palestinian Jordan Valley). In this crowded town, a separator strip has been constructed in the middle of the road. Despite of the fact that stones were thrown here yesterday at an Israeli vehicle, we did not notice any increased presence of soldiers in this locality.
12:45 – Maale Efrayim Checkpoint
Unmanned. On our way back, at 17:30, an army small truck stood at the checkpoint, surrounded by six urinating soldiers.
Abu Khalaf and his wife, both 88 years old, have not had electricity for six months now. The solar energy power does not reach them because some part in the generator is not functioning. We took the part and would try to get it repaired in Israel. Abu Kalaf lives in Makhoul by himself most of the time. His wife and sons – all diabetics – live in Tamoun, in order to receive medical treatment. Abu Khalaf struggles on his own with his flock of sheep, with the drought and with the Occupation that denies him water supply and often demolishes his home (as it does his neighbours’), aided only by his neighbor Burham.
Another visit with the Salamin family in Al Hadidiya, south-east of Ro’i settlement. Since the Ro’i settlers blocked the shortcut to Hadidiya (5-minute drive), we had to travel for about half an hour on a dirt track in order to get there. Riyad has six children, two of them severely retarded. Twenty persons live in this encampment – his brothers, their wives, and his father. Last winter, during the great storm, his older brother Uday was near the home by a rainwater flood. He tells us about frequent evictions when the army holds its maneuvers. Sometimes they evacuate to Homsa, and when the Homsa residents are evicted for the same reason, they come to them at Al Hadidiya. Several years ago an army jeep abducted Riyad’s brother, Sadam, mentally retarded. Then, near the settlement of Meholda, about 20 kilometers north of their site, the soldiers let Sadam off the jeep and abandoned him there on the road. The fellow had no idea where he was, and began wandering. All the local residents searched for him, until they found him three days later – famished, exhausted and scared – near Nablus.
Rotem settlement – we have been noticing new construction right below this settlement for the past two weeks. Today we saw a prefab still on the semi-trailer that delivered it, on the slope of the hill where the settlement is situated.
Khalat Al Khader – people here have finally been rehabilitated. After the two close demolitions they experienced (on February 11 and February 18) they now have new tents, which Fatmah has been meticulously caring for. An elderly couple with children (“lots of children”, they said). They grow barley and wheat, vegetables, beans and bees. Their drinking water is brought over from Al Beida spring nearby in tankers, and for irrigation they get water through a pipe from the nearby well, but this water is salty and not potable. Their neighbors, whose home too was demolished on February 11, have given up and left the area, moving to Toubas. Thus, under the guise of construction supervision, or to be more exact – prevention of dwelling, Israel has been expelling the local residents of the Palestinian Jordan Valley into the restricted area named “Area A”.