Hamra (Beqaot), Tayasir
** Why is it the Palestinians who pay the steep price of the IDF's manoeuvers, while in the Jewish settlements 'the good life' goes on as usual? Is this not apartheid?
** Tyassir Checkpoint is open and traffic flows freely, for over a week now – and Israel's security has remained intact!
Tapuach Zaatara Junction Checkpoint
9:50 no inspections, and none on our way back.
Maale Efrayim Checkpoint
10:00 Unmanned, also on our way back.
Waste Dump near Tirtza water reservoir
It is located between the reservoir and the fence that surrounds the area near the River Jordan (a landmine zone, according to the sign on the gate). The stench is evidence of its purpose. Trucks enter loaded with waste and exit filled with fertilizer, it seems. We did not enter to ask where all that waste comes from – as far as we know, it is forbidden to use occupied areas for dumping Israeli waste. In the area declared 'landmined', over several kilometers along the Jordan, land has been confiscated from Palestinians for 'security' purposes. Lately, Jewish farmers have been tilling this land. We saw a rather young date grove. And the landmines - what about them?
We looked into a rumor that structures have lately been demolished there, but the rubble we saw there was from demolitions which took place a year ago.
11:20 – friendly reservists promised us that at this checkpoint Palestinians are always treated with respect (these soldiers have been here for two weeks). There is still only one lane open to traffic in either direction. According to the soldiers, at 'rush hours' they open the closed lane. And we saw that happening on our way back in the afternoon.
Salaam Fayyad continues to make donations to the welfare of the Palestinian Jordan Valley's inhabitants. This time it is solar panels for local production of electricity. The change is substantial: the tent is illuminated at night, there is television connection, and those who can afford it will be able to use a washing machine and a baking oven. Inhabitants told us that 30 years ago they left Tamoun because the PA has forbidden, and still does, shepherds to reside in the villages, and thus forced them to seek a site that is not situated on "state land", to lease land for which the owners demand high prices, in terms of West Bank economy. The army justifies the expulsions on the grounds that these are actually Tamoun residents, but their main or sole livelihood depends on raising cattle, sheep and goats.
We brought Rima the hammock for the baby, which Daphna sent her, and wished her luck in her delivery, due next week, Inshallah…
The suffering of the Bedouins resulting from the army's maneuvers last week
The photographer who joined us took pictures of the charred spots left by fires caused by the use of live ammunition during the army's maneuvers. We believe these fires were planned and controlled, all set at quite a distance from the tents. The upsetting fact is that the army did not bother putting out these fires, although there are fire trucks nearby (at the Kfir Brigade base), and even prevented the PA fire truck from arriving in time from its station in Tubas (most of the fires broke out in Area C).
In previous reports we wrote about the suffering of the inhabitants of Al Malih, Humsa and Duyeb hamlets, who have been forced to abandon their homes, with their children and flocks. This time we were told about the wheat fields which were about to yield a generous crop this year, following a rainy winter – but have been trampled by the tanks' chains and destroyed. Had this been a settlers' wheat field, the army would not have dared. No one even dreams of compensation in this place.
This checkpoint has been wide open since early last week, and – wonder of wonders: no checkpoint and nothing has happened! We crossed it excitedly and continued westwards. We have been monitoring this harsh spot for years, witnessing so much humiliation, anger and bitterness, and now – like everyone else, we crossed in a flash. There are still soldiers manning the watchtower, and an army vehicle parked nearby, but they do not interfere. The Jordan Valley has always been a rather placid area and its forced separation from the rest of the West Bank has caused unending suffering for the inhabitants. We believe it hasn't been security considerations which instigated this cruel treatment but rather the harsh policy of forcing the local inhabitants to flee the area.
At the entrance of Akraba village
16:35 - More than seven army vehicles park along the access road to the village. According to one of the soldiers, this is an army maneuver that will last another hour, and he will find out if we are allowed to pass. We did not wait. On our way we saw more vehicles turning towards the village on side roads.