Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 8.8.12, Morning

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Daphne Banai and guests
Seriously? Does this make us safer?


Translator:  Charles K.


The army confiscates cows and the Shabak interrogates laborers returning home at the end of their workday.


09:00 Ma’aleh Efrayim – Not manned.


Yesterday approximately 80 cows belonging to the Darajmeh family, which lives right below the Maskiyot settlement, were confiscated.  The family said one of the sons, Seti, and his son, grazed their herd east of Maskiyot, far enough away so as not to galvanize into action the settlement’s security coordinator, but not near Highway 90.  A representative of the Civil Administrationinfo-icon, in a well-planned ambush, arrived with trucks, took the cows to quarantine at the Adam Bridge, arrested Seti and his son and took them to Ariel.  No one notified the family of the arrest; no document confirming the confiscation was provided.  When I came (the next day) they asked me to find out the reason for the arrest and confiscation.  Only then did they learn that the cows allegedly crossed Highway 90.

Those arrested were required to post a bond of NIS 3,000 in order to be released, and who knows how much they’ll have to pay to get the cows back (transport, food, charges for holding them, etc.)!  (I spoke with Jamila, from the Association for Civil Rights, and with Yudit from Yesh Din; no one wants to handle it).  Towards afternoon the Palestinian Authority sent an attorney to Ariel to get the men released.

This is the same family which two years ago was accused of allowing its cows to enter a nature reserve rather than staying on the “marked trail.”  The family is poor; the children run after cars, asking for food.  Their cows are so emaciated and wretched that by the end of the summer the herders walk with them long distances to find some vegetation they can eat.  The area, like the entire northern Jordan Valley, is also a firing range, so there’s no end to the possible pretexts than can be employed to embitter the lives of the inhabitants – the occupation, a nature reserve, a firing range…

I had no words of encouragement as I stood before them. They’re alone, facing the occupation’s steamroller that’s doing all it can to abuse them and chase them from their homes.  A report of the incident appears on YNET.


10:30  Tayasir checkpoint -  The soldiers hurry to chase us away, as usual, but we don’t even get close.  They’re also trying to remove us from where the cars wait after crossing through the checkpoint.  But we refuse to move; the soldier shrugs his shoulders and leaves us alone.  There’s almost no traffic; cars coming from the West Bank cross in five minutes.  Those coming from the Jordan Valley aren’t delayed at all.  I asked the soldier whether restrictions have been eased for Ramadan; the question surprised him.  “Why should they have been?  Everything’s as usual.”


11:30  Hamra checkpoint – Three or four cars were always waiting in each direction.  A truck arriving from the West Bank was refused entry to the Jordan Valley and had to return whence it came.  The passenger in the truck remained at the checkpoint; he told us the driver is from Tubas, on the West Bank, which is why he wasn’t allowed into the Jordan Valley, but that the truck has other ways to cross and he’ll await it there…obviously.  Because no checkpoint can block the power of people’s lives.  All it can do is make things difficult, harass, embitter the weakest, those who can’t handle the manipulations necessary to get by…

They’re trying to chase us away here as well.  It’s very hot; passengers who had to get out of the cars and cross on foot wait in the incandescent metal shed.

12:10  Ma’aleh Efrayim – We see from afar the long lines stretching away from the checkpoint.  18 cars on the roadside waiting to cross to the West Bank, the soldiers collecting IDs from the passengers.  People had already gotten out of the burning hot cars when we arrived (not all are air-conditioned); it’s 37 degrees Celsius in the shade but there isn’t any shade.  They’ve been waiting more than half an hour.  Most of the cars are crowded with 

laborers returning from working in the settlements’ fields; they began at 5 in the morning, in the sun, and because of the Ramadan fast they didn’t eat or drink.  Now they’re stuck here, at the checkpoint.  People are very angry, also at us standing helplessly before them.  In desperation they’re seeking help, not sympathy…


It turned out that sitting behind the concrete barriers surrounding the pillbox towering over the checkpoint are “foxes, if you know what I mean,” according to one of the soldiers.  Every few minutes one of the youths is called to accompany a soldier to the Shabak officers.  Before entering the soldiers’ area he must lift his shirt and is carefully inspected.  During the hour we were there we saw five youths brought from the cars to the interrogation room.  Interrogation?  Recruitment of collaborators?  It’s very simple to cancel the valuable work permit that enables someone to support their family.


After an hour had passed I was forced to leave because of my guests’ commitments.