Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 1.10.13, Morning

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Naomi Levite, Rina Tsur (reporting)

Translator:  Charles K.


09:15  Za’tara (Tapuach junction) checkpoint

No inspections.  A soldier in the guard post at the junction.  Soldiers in the plaza unload something from an Israeli truck.

About one kilometer east of the junction a few soldiers in camouflage gear walk on the roadside, apparently on maneuvers.


Fields leased by the Gitit settlement (near the pumping station) – Only the northern fields are under cultivation.  Many Palestinian laborers are picking hot peppers.  Only stubble is left In the southern fields, which two months ago were still being cultivated by a resident of Tel Aviv.  A Palestinian flock grazes there on the yellowed vegetation.


09:50  Hamra checkpoint

A Palestinian car stands at the checkpoint, two men and a woman alongside.  They’re teachers who live in Aqraba and work in the school in Fasa’il.  They’ve been detained for 2 ½ hours (according to the checkpoint commander) as punishment for inappropriate behavior, particularly since they’re teachers who should be setting an example (again, according to the checkpoint commander).  He’s authorized to detain anyone (any Palestinian, that is) for three hours.  Incidentally, the shifts changed during the past two hours, so he himself didn’t witness the “inappropriate” behavior nor the imposition of the punishment.  The teachers say that the incident began yesterday, involving a female soldier at the checkpoint and one of the teachers, and today all three were punished.


Gochia checkpoint

This is an “agricultural gate” which should open three times a week for half an hour in the morning and the afternoon.  It hasn’t opened for about a year.  We saw tracks of a vehicle near the gate (apparently a military vehicle); perhaps they opened the gate to go through.  We saw a truck detouring around the gate over the stony ground.  That must be very hard on the vehicle.  And he’s also taking a risk; if a military vehicle passes on the road and sees him, he’ll be stopped and severely punished.  But nothing will happen to the officers and soldiers who didn’t open the gate as they were supposed to.


11:00  Halt Makhul

On 16.9.13, the army demolished all the buildings of this village with 100 inhabitants and refused to allow the Red Cross to provide humanitarian assistance.  Meanwhile the High Court issued a temporary injunction until 8.10.13 forbidding additional demolitions, but the residents fear the army will demolish anything they try to erect because the Jordan Valley is far from Jerusalem, and here the army rules.

This is our first visit to the ruins of the village.  There are piles of rubble on both sides of the path through the middle of the village, testimony to the disaster that occurred here.  Bent iron bars, poles, crushed tin sheets.  It’s quiet, no one’s around.  As we keep driving we see three shepherds under a solitary tree that provides a bit of shade.  All the women, children and old people have left the village.  It’s impossible to live out in the open, under the burning sun and in the cold night, with no shelter.  Only the shepherds, primarily the younger men, remained to guard their property – the flocks of sheep which are their source of livelihood.  It’s also hard for the sheep to remain all day without shelter.  B. tells us that Ya’akov Manor came yesterday and took a lamb which had collapsed from the heat to a veterinarian.

The roving ambulance also arrived while we were there; it provides medical services to the residents once a week (even though it’s Area C, where the army is supposed to provide all civilian services, medical services are provided by the Palestinian Authority).  They’d also come to express their support for the people whose homes had been destroyed.

Everyone’s talking about and waiting with high hopes for October 8 and the High Court’s final decision.  Maybe someone there will end the Civil Administrationinfo-icon’s heartlessness and allow the inhabitants to continue their very humble lives.

While we were sitting there, two trucks carrying prefab buildings passed on the road – certainly not for the homeless residents of Makhul; they’re apparently intended for some settlement or a military base.


13:40  Hamra checkpoint.

On our way back we saw a few vehicles waiting on both sides of the checkpoint, not being inspected.  Inspections began when we arrived.  An Israeli car (yellow plates) is detained at the checkpoint.  The soldier alongside is telephoning for instructions.  We went over to see what was going on.  The driver was wearing a yarmulke.  We asked what happened.  “Don’t worry, he’ll get over it…,” said the driver.  He said the soldier addressed him in Arabic before noticing the yarmulke and asked him why he’d photographed the checkpoint.  That’s why he’s being detained.  He’d replied like the average Israeli (Jew):  “What business is it of yours!!!”

They won’t detain him for three hours despite his impolite answer to the soldier, like they detained the teachers this morning.  We left because we saw he really didn’t need any help.


14:20  Za’tara checkpoint.

Two Palestinian cars detained by the police, the drivers fined because passengers in the back seat weren’t wearing seat belts.  One was a child.  How did the police know to stop them?  The child wasn’t visible from outside the car (he’s not tall enough to see through the window).  One of them is fined NIS 250 (more than three days’ pay according to the rates in the occupied territories).

An additional way to embitter their lives and empty their pockets.