On 18th March the Freedom Bus left Jenin to travel into the Jordan Valley. They planned to go to Al Hadidiya to work with the local community there, but were prevented from accessing the area by the occupation forces. The next day they witnessed the occupation forces carrying out military training in the area near Al Hadidiya, but did manage to get to the village. On 20th March the whole group headed to Samra community to support the work of Jordan Valley Solidarity in byilding a school for local children. Again, the occupation forces turned up to try and stop the building. Here is the report of one of the Freedom Bus participants.

20March2014 Entrance to Samra villageToday, 20th of March the Freedom bus went to Khirbet Samra village. Samra is a village in the north of the Jordan Valley, Area C. It is between two army bases. One on the hill directly overlooking, and constantly monitoring, Samra community. The other army base is opposite the entrance to the community. It is a massive base where the occupation forces store rows upon rows of tanks, and is regularly used as a base of military training in the area and for military processions and ceremonies.

Life in Khirbet Samra

People in Samra don’t have water or electricity. Even though they can hear the sound of water under their tents, they are not allowed to use the water. It is also a problem that they don’t have school. The kids have to go to Ein el Beida and the distance between these villages is 23 kilometers. But, this situation will change – Jordan Valley Solidarity is working with the local community to build a school using the Palestinian traditional method of building with mud bricks. So, internationals and Palestinians got together to support Samra people to stay in their land. On 20th March they laid the school floor.

Occupation forces attempt to stop the school building

20March2014 IOF stop work on Samra school

Unfortunately, the Israeli occupation doesn’t have limits. When the people were building the school, one jeep with five soldiers arrived in Samra .They tried to stop the work. According to them, we are not allowed to build a school in this area. Also, they took a lot pictures of the school and the people. And when the people were taking pictures of the soldiers they made some people delete them.

After thirty minutes, more two jeeps arrived, so there were almost twenty soldiers. They were trying to scare the volunteers and the people from Samra. After forty minutes, they left the village. But, they set up a checkpoint in the entrance of the village. They didn’t let people from Samra, or volunteers who were arriving, enter the village. They stopped them for three hours. Furthermore, they asked to Abu Mohamed, a man from Samra, to talk to them. They said that they would only let people enter the village if he came with them. So, Abu Mohamed and two internationals were detained by the soldiers, and the took Abu Mohamed’s ID. The soldiers said that Samra is Area C, so the community is not allowed to build anything in the village, even a school. After fifty minutes, they released the three people and gave back Abu Mohamed’s ID.

Despite the occupation forces attempt to prevent the construction of the school the volunteers finished the floor. Jordan Valley Solidarity will continue working hard to finish it in April.

Occupation and repression in Al Jiftlik

The floor to Samra school is finished

After Samra, the internationals went to Al Jiftlik village. This village is the biggest one in Jordan Valley, it’s in Area C. Around five thousand Palestinians live there. Jordan Valley Solidarity built and renovated many of the houses and worked with the local community to establish the right of this community to have a secondary school.

The internationals on the Freedom Bus tour shared with the local community in a presentation from the Freedom Theater and talked with three people from Al-Jiftlik. They explained about the situation in the village. Currently, 80% of the people are working in their land and 15% in settlements

The most important problem in the village is the demolition orders. In some areas of the village everybody has had their house destroyed at least once by the Israeli army. The other key problem is the closed military zone. Basically, we can divide the village in two parts, one in the left of the road and one in the right. The right side is closed military zone. The Israeli army doesn’t care if there are people living in this area, they just put up concrete block declaring the area to be a ‘live firing area’ to try to push them out.

So, today, the internationals have built the school floor to support the Palestinians in Samra and they talked to the people in Al Jiftlik to understand better situation in the area.

Daily reports fro the Freedom Bus are posted on their blog at http://freedombuspalestine.wordpress.com/