Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
'Awarta, 'Azzun 'Atma, Beit Furik, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Shomron Crossing, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 26.4.12, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
And this time, for a change, some good news.
Because of Independence Day the gate is closed and locked. No one enters and no one leaves and there isn't even one soldier to guard the locked gate. The wire mesh gate leading to the agricultural gate is also locked.
There is no police presence at the exit from Israel. There is very little traffic from the territories into Israel.
We didn't see any soldiers in the check points. There is one soldier in the tower looking out over the junction. There is heavy Palestinian traffic in the direction of Ramallah and not even one Israeli car.
There is no military activity.
And now for the good news– It turns out that a month ago the ban on Palestinian cars using the part of Madison Way between Beit Furik and Beit Dejan was lifted. We asked the DCO when the ban on using the part between Beit Furik and Awarta would be lifted (this passes by Itamar) and according to him it is a matter of security…
In Beit Furik we talked with locals about working the agricultural areas close to Itamar. We were told that a while ago the army gave them a few days to plough the land with a military escort, and many people took advantage of the offer. However, our friend said that his family has an olive grove on the hillside adjacent to Itamar and it has been 10 years since they have been able to approach it because of fear for their lives. According to him families have sneaked in to harvest their olives under cover of darkness but he, fearing for his life, did not because he was unable to ensure his security with either the army or with 'Rabbis for Justice'.
The yellow barrier still prevents crossings. Large signs in Hebrew point the way to improvised car parks. It appears that, starting from 9 a.m., there will be a reception in the area, in honour of Independence Day, for the Huwwara brigade and they expect many guests.
Because of the event most of the vehicles moving around the area are military ones. We saw a group of soldiers near Beit Furik who were not staffing the roadblock but were there 'for security reasons'.
There are many soldiers at the Huwwara roadblock too. They are getting ready by the deserted car park. There are already soldiers at the post by the entrance to Nablus. They do not stop the traffic but the drivers, seeing them, slow down expecting a hand signal. In no time a queue builds up which brings memories of times forgotten.
On the way up to Bracha a soldier guards the many hitchhikers.
There is a military vehicle in the bay.
There is a Border Police vehicle awaiting developments.
There are a number of Border Police soldiers who do not impede the traffic. Large signs invite the public to the brigade open day. (We decided that we would rather go home.)
At the Shomron Crossing there is almost no traffic.
Chotzei Shomronroad has been occupied by cyclists.