Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 15.5.12, Afternoon

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Naomi L., Rina Z. (reporting)

Translator:  Charles K.


We reported on the incident at the Za’tara-Tapuachjunction checkpoint the day it occurred, in the course of which two youths were apprehended because they allegedly carried explosives.  What we saw there raised a number of issues.


First – we didn’t see when and where the children were apprehended.  When we did see them (about 20 minutes after we arrived) they had already been handcuffed and their plastic bag with the explosives was dangling from the police robot. 


We didn’t see the children when we arrived, even though we observed the exposed plaza very, very carefully.  There were many vehicles, soldiers, Border Police and police officers, many more than usual or than had been on the roads to the JordanValleyfive hours earlier.  Had they waited for the children to arrive, or simply apprehended them?  And where were they apprehended?  No vehicle passengers were being inspected when we arrived.


The Border Police soldier guarding them told us that the police sapper had found two explosive charges and an improvised pistol in the bag.  The radio news reported that they carried four explosive charges.  The bag with the explosives wasn’t blown up on the spot but was taken elsewhere in a vehicle.  When we inquired a few days later we were told they had knives.  We also learned they’re brothers named A. and O., aged 14 and 15, from the H. family in Nablus.


Gochia checkpoint was open the entire time.


Today Palestinians commemorate Nakba Day (the catastrophe of their expulsion from Israelduring the War of Independence), but the army doesn’t seem to have made any special preparations.


All the areas in the northern JordanValleywhere the Bedouin live and graze their flocks are defined as firing ranges.  We met a family living in an encampment opposite which soldiers train fairly regularly, incxluding with live ammunition.  Not long ago a youth was shot in the abdomen and hospitalized for an operation.  A tent the family had recently erected was also demolished.


According to the Oslo Accords, all of the West Bankis Area C – that is, under total Israeli control.  Palestinians living here aren’t granted building permits, even for a tent or a shed.  So everything they erect is illegal and subject to demolition.  That doesn’t apply, of course, to the settlements, because they’re Jews.  God forbid we should call this “apartheid,” a word that would surely pervert this reality…


We learned that Palestinians employed in the settlements are paid much less than half the minimum wage.  It’s no wonder the settlements are flourishing and expanding.  Their produce is sold in Israelfor its full price.


Shomron gate

A police car and plastic cubes slow vehicle entry to the occupied territories.


Opposite the village of Marda two jeeps park next to an abandoned building, a soldier observing from the second floor.


Za’tara checkpoint-Tapuach junction – 11:10

No inspections; we saw no soldiers.


Qabalan– An army jeep looks out over the village from a hill next to the road.


Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – 11:30

Five soldiers inspecting.  There aren’t usually soldiers or inspections at this hour.


Hamra checkpoint  

Today there’s relatively more civilian traffic, primarily women and children.  They get out of the vehicles, go through the pedestrian crossing where they and their belongings are inspected, and then wait for the vehicles to be inspected separately and then pick them up.

We meet a man who works in the Beqa’ot settlement.  24 families live there, employing more than 500 Palestinians, primarily in agriculture.  Each receives NIS70-80 for an 8-hour day, which is less than half the minimum wage, with no benefits – reducing the sum total even more.  The grapes they market in Israelsell for NIS22/kilo. It’s not surprising that the JordanValleysettlements are flourishing and so successful.  The new Zionism, at its best.


North of the Beqa’ot settlement, where more than six months ago shepherds who dared graze their flocks were arrested and punished by being held illegally at the checkpoint, and were sometimes also beaten (by soldiers, at the initiative of the settlement’s security coordinator), we now see flocks grazing peacefully, canopies to shade them from the burning sun, and trucks bringing water.  It’s an improvement.  Moreover, someone broke the iron bar at the Gochia gate, which is now wide open, and nothing terrible happened.


Between Ro’I and Maskiyot – soldiers on maneuvers.  Some rest under shade canopies.  A Bedouin family lives opposite them.  They tell us that the soldiers come frequently.  They arrive on Sunday and remain until Thursday.  They also use live ammunition.  An elderly couple, a young couple and two little girls live there.  Only the young people were there today.  We asked whether they’re not afraid.  They said they weren’t.  Maybe they were embarrassed.  When we’d been there previously the older people told us that they’dfled from the encampment to the distant fields for a few days because they feared the shooting.  We know them to be restrained people, patrician in character, who don’t complain even when they’ve suffered great injustice.

They said that two days ago soldiers demolished a tent they’d recently erected, claiming that it was new and that they didn’t have permission to erect an additional tent.  They didn’t complain about that either.


On the way to the Tayasir checkpointwe saw more groups of soldiers training.


Tayasir checkpoint – 14:00 

Very few vehicles go through at this hour.  We sit in the car (lunch).  The checkpoint commander and a soldier come over to ask how we are, whether we need help.  If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad…