Jordan Valley

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Daphne Banai (reporting), Nirit Haviv and Omri Baranes (photos), T/H
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

The rain kept us from reaching A. who has been assaulted by settlers on his own land and has remained there against all odds. Last night the settlers descended and observed him again, threatening, but calls to the police kept them from getting too close this time.

We visited Nagia who delivered her seventh child on Saturday and two hours later was headed back to the encampment with her babyinfo-icon, in order to get back to work. We asked why she wouldn’t stay in the hospital for a day or two and she answered that her husband has a hard time without her and was exhausted. We saw her husband, Yusef, by the roadside, watching his sheep graze in the pouring rain, and he – wrapped in tattered bits of plastic blown about by the wind.

At noon we tried to get to Umm Zuka but the rain made it impossible. So we drove on to Al Hema and visited Abu Rasma and his family. Next the illegal Israeli outpost there a transport truck is parked. The Palestinians tell us it is always there.

משאית שנתרמה למאחז אום זוקא לדבריהם 14.2.17_0.jpg

Abu Rasma’s family dwells in a kind of tent without any opening for air or light. The constant rain all day prevented the solar panels from providing electricity and this “tent” was dark, suffocating and filled with stench. Abu Rasma chain-smokes and I thought I was going to choke. HE said he has received a demand to pay 12,450 (!) shekel in order to get back his tents that were confiscated in October (after a court order was issued to demolish the tents the (Ci)Evil Administration agents arrived and simply confiscated them).

We then drove up to the charming village of Aqaba. The rain stopped as we got there, and we took a tour in the beautiful local park – sculptures, carousels and fountains all created here from old car tires... The village itself is clean and tidy.


חאג' סמי צאדק על יד ציור הקיר בעקבה 14.2.17_0.jpg
Haj Sami Sadeq next to the wall painting at Aqaba village


עקבה 14.2.17 פארק נפלא ובאופק עשן מירי של חיילים.jpg
A lovely park in Aqaba, and smoke from Israeli
army fire on the horizon

We entered the village women’s workshop where they produce different herbal infusions, and keep a shop selling delicious sheep cheese, olive oil and labane (white goat cheese) balls. The village women now make a living with this production and have recently begun to export it abroad. We also shopped there, especially our tourist guests.

Tyassir Checkpoint was manned by soldiers when we drove bound for the West Bank. They waved us through and so we complied. On our way back they were no longer outside in the checkpoint compound, but inside the observation post there.

Finally in the afternoon, during a break in the downpour, we reached Umm Zuka. The car could not reach the outpost because the track was too muddy and flooded. We left it at the shooting range and waded in the mud all the way up. Next to the outpost stood a truck (“transports furniture, refrigerators, pianos”) belonging to the Elias moving company. A bearded fellow unloading hay said to me: “Thanks for the publicity you gave us! It only helped. See? Someone who heard you donated the truck, for ‘If you’re against  the (Machsom)Watch women, you must be doing something right!’ “

It began to rain again, the settler disappeared inside one of the structures, and we ran madly back to the car, reaching it wet to our bones and covered with mud.

On Friday, February 17, 2017, we were informed that Al Hema shepherds were assaulted by settlers from the new outpost there – one ewe was murdered and many others wounded. Two died later of fractures throughout their bodies. The settlers also conducted a topur near Khirbet Yarza, taking photos, surveying the land and comparing data with maps they held, Is there a new illegal outpost in the making?