Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Wed 8.12.10, Afternoon

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Observers: Tal H., Yif’at D., Dafna B. (reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translator:  Charles K.

11:25 – Ma’aleh Efraim
– No soldiers at the checkpoint.  Settlers have settled there, trying to catch a ride while standing amidst the concrete barriers.

We visited the headquarters of “Save the Jordan Valley” – two female Australian volunteers were making mud bricks together with two young Palestinian members of the organization.  The house is expanding and has another large room, many photos, and mattresses indicating that the volunteers sleep here.


13:00בלב השדה - הארגזים נלקחים מהפלסטינים – Route 90, near Masuah– 

We see two jeeps driving away from a group of Palestinians.  It turns out that the four soldiers (Border Police, accompanied by two DCO officers) confiscated 120 cartons of vegetables the Palestinians were selling by the roadside.  They gave them no receipt, but who’ll dare to complain?

We chase the departing soldiers and reach a field near Zbeidat where a loader isדחפור ומנוף מחרימים ארגזי ירקות מלב שדה פלסטיני spilling a pile of cartons into a garbage truck.  Five Border Police soldiers try, unsuccessfully, to prevent us from taking photographs, and threaten to arrest us.  We photographed anyway.  Five Palestinians stand miserably watching how all their produce is harshly taken from them.  The 80 cartons weren’t near the road, but in the middle of the field (see the photo).  The field belongs to the Palestinians.  The new DCO operations officer says it’s intended to prevent sale of vegetables from roadside stands.  “For their own good!”  But the cartons were in the middle of the field, not by the roadside.

The festival of destruction continues:  Slightly farther north the loader and garbage truck stop.  Here 50-year-old trees by the side of the road are being cut down and the trunks and cuttings loaded into the garbage truck.  A large group of Palestinians, including many children, on whose land grow the trees, stand helplessly watching the destruction.  One old man wipes away a tear, saying “It will take 50 years for new trees to grow here.”

The soldiers demand we leave, and show us an order declaring this a closed military area.  We leave after taking photographs of the outrage.
Near the greenhouses of the settlement of Masuah is a Bedouin encampment.  About ten days ago some of their metal sheds were demolished, and the settlers, together with the Israel Settlements Defense Forces, erected a fence in the middle of the encampment, through the structures and the people and their sheep and their fodder.  On what basis?  It’s state land (What state?  We’re in Palestine, not Israel), and the Zionist Organization allocated this land to the Masuah settlement, so the Palestinians are trespassing.  The Palestinians have been there since 1979.  They’re from the Jiftlik.  This Sunday their case will be heard in an Israeli court, and meanwhile the demolition and erection of the fence has already been carried out!!

14:50 – Hamra– No cars.  We continue.

15:20  Tayasir checkpoint.
Fairly heavy traffic.  Crossing is slow, IDs being checked from both directions, and cars going to the Jordan Valley have their trunks opened.  Passengers get out and walk through the checkpoint to the other side.

15:40  The soldier inspecting cars is talking on the phone and traffic stops for a few minutes.  When he finishes his conversation and begins inspecting again he checks only cars coming from the east.  During 15 minutes not one car crosses from the west (from the central West Bank) and a line of six cars forms.

The Palestinians coming through the checkpoint on foot greet us with “Kul al ihtiram lahum” (“Good for you!”) and thank us for coming.  “When you’re not here we wait a very long time to go through.  Two hours, sometimes!”

16:10  We leave.
Construction continues apace at Maskiyot.  In addition to the new neighborhood being built on the hill overlooking the road, a bulldozer is grading the hillside facing the road, preparing for another neighborhood.  Since they’re coming colder to the Palestinian encampment below, it won’t be long before the Palestinians are expelled, even though they’re located on private Palestinian land (belonging to a resident of Tubas).

I get a call from a member of Jordan Valley Solidarity, who tells me that a school had been built at Ain el Helway (below Maskiyot).  Today Rami, the Maskiyot security coordinator, showed up and threatened them.  They’re afraid they’ll have problems during the coming days.

16:40  Hamra 
One car coming from Nablus and five from the Jordan Valley.  The soldiers don’t conduct inspections until a few cars are waiting.