Farsiya - an example of bureaucratic abuse

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Yifat, Shir, Inbal, Danny, Nati, Dorit, Sylvia, Adi, Eshel, Mickey (Reporting), Translation : Bracha Ben-Avraham

Friday, January 5 2024

We arrived around 8.00 in Farsiya. Near the entrance to the Rotem settlement we stopped by a group of soldiers. We saw Ahmed there on the tractor and with him three night shift volunteers, Yifat, Inbal and Shir.

Evidently the army had arrived after being notified by Shay, a worker from the regional council of Maskiot, and stopped Ahmed's tractor work.  He claimed that Ahmed has been plowing land on the edge of a nature reserve.  Ahmed had plowed the same area the previous day and had certification that the land was owned by a Palestinian family from Farsiya, but the army, backed by settlers, decided to arrest him and to confiscate his tractor.  Ahmed and the volunteers denied that he had been plowing outside his land, but the soldiers were not convinced. Shay, council employee and resident of Maskiot, photographed the incident and took charge. While the argument as to who owned the land that took place between the soldiers, the volunteers, and the advisory attorney in the background continues, the commander took out his phone and showed an order stating that this was a closed military zone.  He ordered everyone to leave within five minutes, except for Ahmed who is detained, and if not - he will arrest everyone!

Yifat, who was consulting with an attorney regarding the legality of detaining Ahmed, was arrested as well.  Ahmed and Yifat were taken to the Um Zuka military base, which is about 10 kilometers away. Ahmed was handcuffed and blindfolded.  Yifat was staying at the other end but saw him from a distance.

Dorit and Inbal followed to see what would happen, but they were not allowed to enter the base because it was a closed military area.  After two hours Yifat and Ahmed were brought to the Binyamin police station in separate cars to be questioned.  On the way to the police station Yifat heard that the detective had refused to question her because they had been designated as being “arrested” and not “detained”. 

After four hours Yifat was released with a two-week restraining order and one of the volunteers went to pick her up.  We did not know what had happened to Ahmed because his phone had been confiscated. Shir and Mickey decided to go to Um Zuka base and check there what happened to him. The base commander came out to them and announced that Ahmed had been returned to Um Zuka and would be released, but the tractor was confiscated.

We took Ahmed back to Farsiya.  He was extremely angry that he had been shuttled from one place to another without being told what was going on and his tractor had been confiscated.  Two weeks later, after the attorney intervention, the message was received that the tractor would be released for about NIS 5000, for storage at the military lot.

This is an example of bureaucratic abuse, a "military area", a "nature reserve" that the occupation imposes on the locals in order to get them to leave or expel them and clear the valley of their presence for the sake of annexation in the future.

We remained that night to serve as protection for the Palestinians.


Saturday, January 6  2024
Danny, Nati, Eshel, and Adi arrived in the morning to begin their shift.  Danny and Nati remained in Farsiya as protection, while Adi, Eshel, and I drove to accompany the plowing in the field that was certified as belonging to N.’s brother near Bekaot.  This time the plowing of both sections proceeded without incident after four hours, as the army had evidently rested from its work on the Shabbat.         
Eshel and Adi drove me back to Farsiya and went to join another volunteer that was accompanying N.’s flock on the hillside.  On our way to Farsiya we passed Atuf Checkpoint, where water tanks that are filled up in the area of Atuf are taken across to areas in the valley that are not connected to Mekorot water system. The checkpoint was supposed to be open but it was closed.  We called Jenin headquarters and a military vehicle arrived after about 15 minutes. The soldiers explained that a military vehicle had broken down and that was why they were two hours late. We were told to move or they would not open the checkpoint.  It took 10 minutes to check each vehicle and water tank, and people complained that they were forced to undress despite the cold weather. 

These are small and daily hardships of Palestinians under occupation!

Mickey returned to Farsiya to remain their as protection with Danny and Nati until the evening. Palestinian farmer who arrived to Farsiya explained that he was afraid to plow his field of which he had certified ownership because it was near the place where Ahmed had been arrested the previous day.  He was advised by M. from the Palestinian Authority and also one of the old volunteers to go to the Israeli military headquarters in Jericho the next day.  He was allowed to plow the land because he had certified ownership and the bureaocracy was in his favor. 

These were two typical days in the lives of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley!

We drove back to Tel Aviv and civilization in the evening as well as to the demonstrations to free the hostages and end the war.