To end the standoff, Nir David has backed developing a new leisure area outside the kibbutz or extending the Asi’s flow toward Beit Shean. But the Free the Asi leaders said that could set a precedent for the privatization of natural resources.

Perah Hadad, 36, a campaign leader from Beit Shean, said the relationship with Nir David had always been one of “us on the outside and them inside.”

Ms. Hadad, a political science student, argues that part of the kibbutz could be opened to the public with fixed hours and prohibitions on barbecues and loud music.

“After all,” she said, “there are not that many streams like this in Israel.”

The flotilla led by Mr. Vaknin took place on Mimouna, a North African Jewish holiday marking the end of Passover.

Mr. Vaknin, 30, an information systems analyst, had organized a noisy and festive demonstration that began outside the kibbutz gate, complete with a D.J. and piles of mufletot, Mimouna pancakes dripping with honey.

“Open your gates and open your hearts!” Mr. Vaknin shouted, inviting kibbutz residents to join the party.

An eclectic mix of about two dozen people turned up to protest.

While the kibbutz offers the most practical entry into the Asi, it is possible to reach the water where the stream meets the irrigation channel. But that way involves several hazards, including clambering down a steep incline off a busy road and the possibility that sharp rocks in this untamed part of the stream would tear a raft.

Despite those obstacles, the protesters moved from the kibbutz down the road to launch their flotilla from that unblocked spot and later disembarked near the kibbutz cemetery. Children swam and chased ducks as grim-faced security guards looked on, filming on their cellphones.

The wet interlopers then sauntered off into the heart of the kibbutz. Nobody stopped them, and they posed for victory photos on the manicured bank of the Asi.

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Israeli Court Delays Expulsion of Palestinian Families in East Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — The Israeli Supreme Court delayed on Sunday a decision on whether to expel six Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem after the attorney general requested more time, in part because of the tensions the case has stirred.

The court was to decide on Monday whether to uphold an expulsion order for the families in the Palestinian neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, in a hearing that many feared would set off a wave of unrest. Instead, the case was delayed by up to 30 days to allow the attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, to review it.

For many Palestinians, the families’ plight has become emblematic of a wider effort to remove Palestinians from parts of East Jerusalem and of the past displacements of Arabs in the occupied territories and within Israel.

Since the start of the month, the prospect of the evictions has prompted daily protests, arrests and confrontations between Palestinians and the Israeli police and Jewish extremists.

form of apartheid and the United Nations rights agency says is a potential war crime.

“This isn’t just about the situation for my family,” said Mr. Skafi. “It’s about the situation for all Palestinians in East Jerusalem.”

Some city officials deny that the replacement of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers amounts to a strategy of displacement. Sheikh Jarrah “is not a political but a legal dispute” over land ownership, said Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, a deputy mayor of Jerusalem.

But others in the city leadership say it is part of a concerted effort to reinforce Jewish control of East Jerusalem and prevent it from being ceded in putative future peace negotiations to a Palestinian state.

Another deputy mayor, Aryeh King, said on Friday that it was “of course” part of a wider strategy of placing “layers of Jews” throughout the eastern half of the city. The goal, Mr. King said, is “to secure the future of Jerusalem as a Jewish capital for the Jewish people.”

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed it.

Settlers in the neighborhood consider the Palestinians squatters on land that was historically owned by Jews. They said the court decision on Sunday was a sign of government weakness.

“I am so sorry that the Israeli government is afraid of the violence of a few young Arab people,” said Yonatan Yosef, a settler leader who lives in Sheikh Jarrah. But he promised that settlers would continue with their efforts to force Palestinians out of the neighborhood.

“The Israeli people will go back to their land, and those who don’t want that should go home,” Mr. Yosef said.

Peace Now, a campaign group that documents the expulsions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, estimated that 200 Palestinian properties in strategic locations near the Old City of Jerusalem, housing several thousand residents, were at risk of eviction.

Up to 20,000 Palestinian homes across the city are under threat of demolition, according to Peace Now. Restrictions on building permits in East Jerusalem have forced Palestinian residents to either leave the city or to build illegal housing vulnerable to demolition orders.

The dispute in Sheikh Jarrah originated in 1876 when the land was under Ottoman rule. That year, Palestinian landowners sold a plot in Sheikh Jarrah to two Jewish trusts, an Israeli court has ruled. The land houses the tomb of a revered Jewish priest from antiquity, Shimon HaTzadik.

Jordan captured the plot in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and built dozens of homes there to house some of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who had fled from what became Israel.

After Israel captured East Jerusalem in 1967, it eventually returned ownership of the Sheikh Jarrah homes to the Jewish trusts. The trusts later sold it to right-wing settlers, who have tried to evict the residents ever since. Some families have already been forced out, while the others are in various stages of the court process.

The case has foregrounded the imbalance in who gets to reclaim land in Jerusalem. In East Jerusalem, Jews are allowed to reclaim property that was under Jewish ownership before 1948. But Palestinian families have no legal mechanism to reclaim land they owned in West Jerusalem or anywhere else in Israel.

Israelis defend the policy on the grounds that changing it would undermine the Jewish character of the world’s only Jewish state.

Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting from Rehovot, Israel, and Iyad Abuhweila from Gaza City.

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Taiwan Hunters Contend With Taboos, and Trials, to Uphold Tradition

ZHUOXI, Taiwan — The smell of damp earth filled the air on a recent moonless evening as the hunter wove through the dense mountain thicket, clutching a homemade rifle and with only the narrow white beam of a headlamp to illuminate his prey.

But the hunter, Vilian Istasipal, was confident. He knew this terrain well.

A member of the Bunun, one of 16 officially recognized Indigenous groups in Taiwan, Mr. Vilian, 70, has been hunting on this land for more than 60 years.

Some of his earliest memories growing up in Zhuoxi, a town of around 6,000 people in eastern Taiwan, involved going on dayslong hunts with his father deep into the mountains where he learned skills considered essential to being a Bunun man, like how to lay a trap, shoot a flying squirrel and skin a boar.

“We kill them, but we also pay respect to their lives,” Mr. Vilian said in the courtyard of his home in Zhuoxi, also known as Takkei in the Bunun language.

formally apologized to the island’s Indigenous people for centuries of “pain and mistreatment,” the first leader to do so.

Awi Mona, a professor and expert on Indigenous law at National Dong Hwa University in the eastern city of Hualien. “What we are actually discussing is the Indigenous right to self-government on natural resources.”

Hunting has always been a central part of Taiwan’s Indigenous culture. In Taiwan’s verdant East Rift Valley, the Bunun people maintained the practice even after they were forced out of their traditional mountain homes in the 1930s by the colonial Japanese government.

Many Bunun resettled in the foothills in towns like Zhuoxi, nestled among neatly tended millet and rice fields and scattered with papaya trees and pink bougainvillea.

Then, as now, Indigenous hunting culture was circumscribed by a complex web of taboos and rituals. Traditionally, only men can hunt. Among the Bunun, flatulence and sneezing are some of the many bad omens that might lead a man to call off a hunt. Same goes if a hunter has a bad dream.

In Bunun culture, hunting female deer in the spring, when they are likely to be pregnant, is off-limits. Hunting black bears, seen as friends, is also discouraged.

Among other groups, like the Seediq and the Truku, hunting culture is similarly restricted by long-held customs, at the heart of which is a belief in the fundamental balance between man and nature.

“When I see an animal, I feel that I’m destined to meet it,” said AlangTakisvilainan, 28, a Bunun hunter. He drew a distinction with hunting in America, where the use of semiautomatic rifles effectively amounted to bullying the animals, he said.

“That humans and animals can go head-to-head in a fair fight,” he said, “I think that’s an incredible thing.”

While only Indigenous people can use guns to hunt, they are barred from killing protected species like leopard cats and Formosan black bears, and are required to use certain types of traps, knives or old-fashioned homemade rifles that can jam easily and are some times unsafe. The simple firearms are modeled after those used long ago by Indigenous hunters and must be loaded with gunpowder before each shot.

They must also apply for permits, a process which includes answering questions some hunters regard as absurd. Asking what animals a hunter plans to target, for example, is considered an insult to the Indigenous belief that the animals are gifts from ancestors.

Although enforcement of the laws has been uneven, arrests have continued over the years. So just to be safe, Bayan Tanapima, 62, said he was applying for a gun permit even though he had been hunting since he was a teenager.

“It’s very strange — we have lived for so long in the mountains so why do we have to do this?” Mr. Bayan said. “It’s like they don’t approve of the Indigenous way of living.”

Conservationists have argued that loosening such restrictions would be ruinous for the environment and wildlife, and animal-rights advocates decry what they consider cruel practices. But defenders of local hunting traditions note that Indigenous people have been caretakers of Taiwan’s environment for thousands of years and that such expertise should be respected.

Ciang Isbabanal, a police officer who works on Indigenous issues in the nearby town of Yuli, said that while hunting laws were necessary to curb extreme behavior, the cultural taboos on hunting were so deeply rooted that close outside supervision was unnecessary.

“I hope the country can respect their culture and give them space to live freely,” said Mr. Ciang, a Bunun who also hunts when off-duty. “Having too many legal constraints doesn’t work.”

Back in the forest on a recent night, Mr. Vilian, the 70-year-old hunter, strode up the mountain to where he knew there’d be trees heavy with just-ripened olives — a favorite snack of deer and boars.

Mr. Vilian found a small boar writhing in a trap. According to tribal customs, it was too young to be killed just yet.

After wrapping it in his shirt, he headed home to a late-night feast of braised bamboo shoots and deer meat soup.

But before they could dig in, the ancestors needed to be thanked. Mr. Vilian, his son, Qaivang, and Mr. Bayan, his cousin, dipped their fingers in a bowl of rice wine. They sprinkled a few drops on the boar — now flailing in a rusty cage. The boar was later given to a relative to raise for several years.

“Today we are very happy,” the men chanted in the Bunun language. “To our ancestors and mountain gods, we thank you for giving us this food.”

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In Hong Kong, Foreign Tourists Are Replaced by a Local Variety

HONG KONG — Of all the problems created by the pandemic, Sisi Wong did not expect that finding parking would be one of them.

Travel to Hong Kong was cut off. Residents were urged to stay home. And besides, Ms. Wong lived in a remote northern pocket of the territory, where rolling hills outnumbered skyscrapers and few visitors ventured even in normal times.

Yet there she was, arriving home to find trash scattered near her house, taxis clogging the single narrow road and her usual parking spot occupied by a stranger’s car.

“We’ve called the police, we’ve blocked the road, but there are still so many people,” Ms. Wong said on a recent Sunday, as yet more cars trundled by her tiny village, which sits — to her newfound dismay — next to a photogenic reservoir ringed by weeping willows.

Paris to the Galápagos, the pandemic has brought one small blessing, to the relief of many locals: the disappearance of some obnoxious visitors. That’s also true in the postcard-famous parts of Hong Kong, where lines no longer spill out of designer showrooms and travel coaches no longer block the neon-lit streets.

But as foreign tourists have vanished, a new, local species has emerged.

Bored and trapped in an area one-third the size of Rhode Island, Hong Kongers have sought out the most far-flung, once-quiet corners of their territory of 7.5 million people, mobbing nature trails and parks with the kinds of crowds previously limited to the Causeway Bay shopping district.

Even though the subtropical humidity can make being outdoors unbearable much of the year — and despite an abundance of mega-malls offering ample entertainment excuses to never leave their air-conditioned interiors — Hong Kongers seem to be experiencing the collective thrill of discovering nature.

75 percent of Hong Kong is undeveloped, much of it protected parkland roamed by wild boars and monkeys. Just outside the glittering cityscape is a quilt of islands and peaks ringed by the turquoise South China Sea.

At some of the island’s most popular nature spots, like Devil’s Peak, a rocky outcrop strewn with century-old military ruins, climbers now find themselves in standstill pedestrian traffic. Hikers scaling Lion Rock — a steep, feline-shaped mound that yields a breathtaking skyline view — can sweat on the ascent without fear because the lines for photos are so long, they are able to dry off before their first selfie.

The crowds aren’t the only problem. Crumpled surgical masks dot the trails like strange new flora. Environmental groups have fretted over illegal camp fires. The number of mountain rescues by the Fire Services Department nearly tripled last year, to 602, as some newbie hikers perhaps pushed themselves too far.

“They’re often taking a tourist mind-set to the countryside,” said Vivien Cheng, the director of community partnerships at the Green Earth, a sustainability nonprofit. “If someone discovers a place with a very beautiful rock, then that place is doomed.”

regain equilibrium,” according to a government adviser who recommended the parks’ establishment.

For a while, few residents felt so unbalanced. In the 1980s, just around 12 percent of Hong Kongers said they hiked in the parks, according to survey data.

But over the past two decades, park usage has more than doubled. Outdoor activity spiked after the outbreak of SARS in 2003, leading the government to expand and promote the trails.

Even so, the pandemic influx has been on a new level. The parks logged 12 million visitors in 2020, an 11 percent increase from the year before, according to government statistics, even though public barbecue areas and campsites were closed for more than seven months because of the virus.

Hong Kong Hiking Meetup. Of course, Mr. Van Hoy says, he is thrilled to see more people venturing beyond the high-rises. When he first joined the group eight years ago, it had about 8,000 registered members. It now has 25,000.

illegal dirt biking that has left once-lush hilltops barren.

The government said it punished more than 700 people last year for violating anti-epidemic measures in the parks and had deployed workers to remind people to pick up their litter; Ms. Cheng said enforcement had not been strict enough.

She issued a bleak warning: “We’ll also need this countryside when the next epidemic comes, so we need to protect it.”

There are still refuges for those in the know. When the crowds get too dense at Lau Shui Heung Reservoir, Tsao King-kwun, a retired professor, drives to small villages nearby, where he likes to admire the traditional architecture. It’s a departure from his usual walking route around the reservoir, but Mr. Tsao can rest assured that the crowds won’t follow.

“Because they don’t know it,” he laughed. “This” — he gestured to the reservoir, where he had deemed the crowds acceptable for a walk that afternoon — “is quite obvious. They go on Facebook.”

spectacular orange, but she hadn’t seen it this year because of the crowds.

Still, she took solace in the fact that, as the seasons and foliage changed, so would the number of visitors. “After a while, there won’t be this many people,” she said. “They’ll all go to Tai Mo Shan” — Hong Kong’s highest peak — “to see the bell flowers.”

Elsie Chen contributed research.

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