Jordan Valley

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Tzvia Shapira, Nurit Popper, Daphne Banai (reporting), Translation T.H

It rained in the Palestinian Jordan Valley during the past two weeks. Well, not exactly a blessing, because when it rains there, it usually pours furiously and wreaks damages. So except for some green blades that have sprouted alongside the road, the entire center of Makhoul turned into a swamp and the tents – of Rima and Ashraf and their children, his brother Yousef and his 8 children, as well as the older generation’s – were all swept by the strong stream and rushed down from the hills. The children woke up in the middle of a swimming pool, everything including their clothes and mattresses was drenched. God bless, Rima said with a smile. Still, after five years of drought, a good rain might save the farms. In expectation of the next rain, ditches were dug along the slopes above the tents and the water did not flood the homes.

Still hope for more is rampant. This week they will sow wheat, and barley, and if they manage – even chickpeas (that cost 3 times more). For the last five years, they sowed in vain. Last spring the grain grew up to 10 cm. and was totally scathed by the area’s cruelly burning sun. Bourhan’s place was not flooded because he dug 3 deep ditches above it ahead of time.

The settler-colonists of Umm Zuka were plowing today along the eastern slope of the nature reserve, where the Samra villagers are used to graze their flocks. Clearly from now on, this area too, which they own privately, will be robbed from them. This outpost does have an edict ordering the cessation of construction there, but not only do its inhabitants continue to build (every time I come there, the place has grown and added structures) – they gradually force their appropriation over more and more land, backed up by the Israeli army.

In the afternoon it rained for some minutes (not more than five) in the hills, and on our way back a robust stream flowed next to the Allon Road at the foothills. Amazing how such strong flow can break out all at once, sometimes even life-threatening.

We also visited Al Faresiya, the shepherd community dwelling east of the Allon Road opposite the settler-colony Rotem. The tents and sheep pens appear in relatively good condition. Their problem is having to graze right next to their encampment, because the area between them and Rotem is now out of bounds for Palestinians. The reduction of their pasture grounds is critical for them – in the area still allowed not a blade of grass is left. Here too people are getting ready to begin sowing this weekend. Wheat.