Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir, Za'tara (Tapuah)

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Naomi Levite, Rina Tsur (reporting) Translator: Charles K.

The lack of rain and the severe drought expected this year will make life very difficult for the Bedouin in the Jordan Valley.  They’re barely surviving as it is.  Now, when vegetation for their flocks is sparse and stunted, they’ll have to buy fodder for their animals throughout the year, not just during the summer.  There won’t be enough pasture.  No government is likely to compensate them for damage caused by the drought, nor be concerned in any way about their difficulties.


We saw non-irrigated fields of wheat and other crops a few centimeters high, still green, awaiting the rains.  Most belong to Palestinians.  Settlements receive very generous water allocations and depend little on the rain - or not at all.


09:30  Za’tara junction

Dogs are inspecting Palestinian vehicles.  Two cars were detained when we arrived.  Border Police soldiers conduct the procedure with the dog handlers.  They make us leave the plaza, claiming civilian vehicles aren’t allowed there.  But an Israeli vehicle parks on site nevertheless.  A Jew wearning tzitziot and a yarmulke stands alongside it, speaking on a cellphone.


When the first car was released we learned from its driver the inspection had lasted 20-30 minutes.  The driver of the second car had a long conversation with the Border Police soldiers.  He was still there when we left 15 minutes later; his vehicle hadn’t yet been inspected.  Meanwhile another car arrived and, as usual, its five passengers had to stand about five meters from the car.  The dog handlers remained off to the side.  They’re apparently in no hurry.  It’s not the first time we’ve seen them using this main road junction during morning and afternoon rush hour to practice random inspections on cars which happen to pass by.  At least that’s what it looks like to us – practice by the Oketz unit dogs and handlers.  The inspections are, for most Palestinians, an insult (dogs are considered unclean, defiling all they come into contact with), not to mention a time-waster.

The plaza was empty on our way back; no inspections were underway in any direction.


09:55  Ma’ale Efrayim checkpoint

A soldier and policeman inspect a truck headed west.  It’s rare to see inspections of vehicles going west.  There were no soldiers at the checkpoint when we returned.


Gitit settlement

New hothouses have sprung up to the left of the Alon road.  Most of the leased lands next to the pumping station aren’t being cultivated.  Flocks of sheep belonging to the Bedouin graze on what’s left of the vegetation after the harvest.


Mechora settlement

A swather is reaping a non-irrigated field whose crop has reached a height of 10 cm. and begun to turn yellow.  The drought.


10:25  Hamra checkpoint

Sparse traffic.  People remain in their vehicles for inspection; the installation for inspecting people on foot isn’t in use.  Each inspection takes 2-3 minutes.


12:15  Tayasir checkpoint

Sparse traffic.  No needless delays.