Jordan Valley: Settlers riot, beat and abuse

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Nurit Popper (photos), Daphne Banai (report)
Jewish Terror

We drove out quite fearful. Both our families were very much against our going in the present circumstances. Fear of terrorist attacks. Indeed, because the way from Tel Aviv to Fasail, to Turmus Aya, back to Fasail, to the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley, and then Farisiya – is long, we too were anxious. Luckily the roads that had been empty two weeks ago were now filled with vehicles, and in spite of the many checkpoints – life has taken back some semblance of tense routine.

At Tapuach (Za’atara) Junction, bill boards say We have returned to the Gaza Strip and are calling upon Jewish Israelis to settle the area again. You might think these are illusionary margins, but I think that had we woken up earlier, when Israeli colonies had only begun to spring up (the Hadassah House in Hebron, Sebastia – remember?) we would be in an entirely different place today. The mainstream of Israeli public will sit in their living rooms and the religious Zionist factions would hand out their traditional white tassels and turn the nightmare of Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip into some even worse inferno. Smutrich and his partners are plotting to take over the entire land – from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea – and who will pay the blood-letting price? Whoever paid it in the ‘original’ Israeli catastrophe. As far as the messianic gang is concerned, October 2023 was a delightful month. They have said so, blatantly. “If only we put aside the fallen and the people taken hostage”. It is chilling to know that there are those who even think they can be put aside.

A-Sawiya village, where a Palestinian man was murdered on Saturday 10 days ago, is blocked by earthen dykes. This is the procedure – when Israelis injure Palestinians, the victims are punished (official excuse: fear that someone might want to take revenge). I read that the colonist who shot the Palestinian was a soldier on leave. He was let go and the file against him was closed. The official claim is that Palestinians threw stones. The judge never wondered what the murderer and his pals were doing in a Palestinian olive grove…

We brought Maryam to the eye hospital at Turmus Aya in order to get the regular injection that retains her eye sight. We were welcomed with unexpected warmth at this time – beginning with the people sitting in the café opposite the hospital, through the café owner who wouldn’t let us pay, through the pharmacist at the other end of the village. A young fellow approached us to tell that the people of the village (that 4 months ago had been cruelly ignited by colonists) got organized to defend themselves. With their empty hands, they managed to push away another pogrom two weeks ago. Chapeau!

After returning Maryam home to Fasail, we drove to the northern part of the Valley for a vigil of “Protective Presence”. The community of Al Farisiya, close to which the colony of Rotem was established, has been suffering greatly from the violence of the Rotem colonists (“the ecological village”). We try with our meager powers to shield the Palestinians there, especially since we photograph their assailants. The villagers tell us they suffer hunger because they cannot sell their cheeses nor their sheep for all the roads are now blocked and traders cannot reach them. Colonist violence in the grazing grounds has caused them to remain very close to the tents and finish off the poor grass remaining from the scant rains of last winter. Now they are forced to buy expensive feed for the sheep and their situation is dire.

Besides, since October 7th, the school at Ein Al Beida is closed for the teachers cannot reach it because of the checkpoints. Children are back to studying by zoom, but not everyone has a phone and they are not all the same age. How do three children, ages 7, 9 and 12, study with one single phone?

At 5 p.m. we were notified that colonists closed off the Ein Hilwa junction nearby, and are harassing Palestinians trying to get to Tubas or anywhere else. Half an hour later we drove to see for ourselves, and they were no longer there. But by every Bedouin encampment an Israeli flat was hoisted. To wave in ‘their’ faces. The colonists even hoisted a flag on a road sign.

Later our friends reported that Palestinian citizens of Israel got stuck with their car in that same junction, and while they were trying to fix it, colonists jumped them and beat them up hard. Only when our Israeli activists arrived did the colonists leave and our people accompanied the victims all the way to the checkpoint. Tomorrow a complaint will be lodged with the police. However, our experience tells us that the police will do absolutely nothing…