Hamra (Beqaot), Ma'ale Efrayim, Za'tara (Tapuah)

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Annelien K., Rina Tz. (reporting)


Visit with A. at Al Hama – their encampment has been demolished for 20 days now: the army prevents them from putting up tents. How will they protect themselves from the seething sun and from the biting night cold? And the rains are about to start.

We were there two weeks ago and nothing has changed. As far as the eye can reach, demolition rubble piled up, of tents and sheep pens. There is only a single tent standing, and the tiny tent donated by the Red Cross, for an extended family of 25 persons, of them 12 children under 13, and a disabled (probably mentally ill) 30-year old who cannot control his bodily needs and is tied up at least part of the time.

We met the elderly parents and one son – quiet, friendly people who hold on to the hope that the Israeli court will enable them to rebuild, and do not realize how feeble such hope is. We had nothing to console them. We brought some clothes and toys for the children.

We tried to help B. get back his cattle that mistakenly entered the army base opposite Hamam Al Malih. B. was grazing his flock yesterday (about 30 cows) opposite Hamam Al Malih, fell and fractured his arm, went to Tubas where his arm was plastered. Upon his return some hours later he could not find his cows – they had entered the nearby army base the fence around which is torn open at several places. He said that upon approaching the sentry post he was told to get away. Since he understands no Hebrew and the soldiers do not speak Arabic, there was no chance for any communication between them.

We went to that sentry post and explained the problem. The entire camp staff is on holiday and only several soldiers have remained to guard it. The commander, a sergeant, and the soldiers are replaced every few days. They could not take a decision on their own, spoke to someone on the phone, and said that only after the holiday, when everyone is back including the camp commander, would someone solve the problem.

Through the gate we noticed a few cows rather enjoying the grass on the case. We asked the soldiers to provide the cows with water. They showed good will, but could not help beyond that.

The track to Al Hadidiya has been blocked by two long earth dikes at two places along the way, which had been hazardous for vehicles without front wheel drive to begin with.
We saw one of these barriers as we visited Khalat Makhoul. Needless to say, none of the shepherd communities in the Palestinian Jordan Valley (which is Area C, where the State of Israel is supposedly responsible for providing civil services to the population) have any semblance of an access road, the kind paved for every single settlement and outpost, “legal” or illegal.

S., wife of C. from Makhoul, has been suffering from severe headaches for nearly a year. She is 40-years old, mother of 9 children. Like the rest of the Palestinian Jordan Valley inhabitants, there are no healthcare services in Area C and they must reach Area A which is under Palestinian Authority control. There such services are rather poor and they must pay for them. It took a year until she had an appointment with a neurologist who sent her to have a head-CT examination, which costs 1500 NIS. They can hardly raise such a sum. We shall try to help them.

Entrances to the villages of Akraba and Jawarish on road 404 have been blocked for nearly a year.
Akraba is the largest village east of the Zaatara Junction. I doubt whether anyone still remembers what this village is being punished for. The two roads that connect it to Road 404 are blocked with piles of rocks. I believe that the road to Akraba was open for a short while, and then blocked again. The way to Jawarish is blocked for a year now.

Migdalim settlement seeks dwellers for its new villas.
In the past few months we have seen two rows of villas being built above the cliff at Migdalim settlement, next to the older houses. Apparently it has nothing to do with “natural growth” or a burst of people who have fallen in love with the place. The villas are marketed to anyone interested by large billboards hanging at Zaatara Junction for the mere sum of 825;000 NIS.

Zaatara/Tapuach Junction Checkpoint showed no unusual activity both on our way there and back.

At Maale Efrayim Checkpoint – 10:30 a.m. – an army pickup truck parked beneath the watchtower. We saw no soldiers. On our way back, a white pickup truck was parked there.

Hamra Checkpoint – 10:45 a.m. – we saw no soldiers, the checkpoint was wide open, on our way back as well.