Translation: Suzanne O.
Soldiers are on alert for settlers after the demolition of buildings in Alei Ayin.
6:35 a.m. There is a really short queue of labourers. It appears that the commander took charge of the situation and put an additional soldier with those taking down the ID card numbers of those leaving, as an aide to the two Border Police in the cube. He said that when there is less pressure they put the details into the computer. Well done to that young man.
There is civilian police at the exit from Israel and a shortish queue of settlers at the entrance.
The entrances to Marda and Zeita are open.
7:05 a.m. There are Border Police in the positions. The traffic flows without hindrance.
Border Police inspect cars on the road to Huwwara. On the opposite side, by the side of the road coming from Yitzhar, there are two military cars observing the traffic. Are they waiting for the "cost tag" people?
Unsurprisingly the yellow barrier still bars the crossing. We have still not received a reply to my letter on the matter from the Central Command spokesperson.
7:40 a.m. There is no IDF presence and the traffic flows unhindered.
7:45 a.m. The roadblock is deserted by soldiers. The lamp posts around the old roadblock and the new one are blazing as if it is the middle of the night. A soldier guards from his position opposite the hitchhiking station and another one is stationed on the road up to the settlement Bracha.
7:50 a.m. The jeep parked on the road to Hawwara has left but the soldiers waiting on the road from Yitzhar are still there.
8:00 a.m. There are no soldiers at all in the positions on the road and the traffic flows unhindered. At the side of the road leading to Binyamin (southwards) a group of Border Police chats to settlers.
The inspection at the entrance to Israel is superficial as usual.
We enter the territories through Eliyahu Gate. The passage is flowing.
There is a long convoy of cars coming from the direction of the exit to Israel, all of which are inspected. We drive on road 55 through Azzun, Sarra and Asira al Qibilya towards Huwwara. Beside military vehicles parked here and there by the roadside, no checkpoint can be seen along the road. The construction of the fence is in progress and it is getting thicker. On top of the hills the settlements are conspicuous. The Arab villages are below, at the foot of the hills.
At 08:15 we reach Huwwara checkpoint, which is completely deserted. Not even one soldier can be seen in the whole surrounding area. We get very close to the checking points operating some times by the soldiers but there, too, we neither see nor hear anybody.
Both at the entrance and the exit from Nablus, there is a lively, undisturbed traffic of vehicles including, of course, trucks.
Until a short while ago all the residents were considered suspects and had to go through inspection. All that is gone now. A desolate checkpoint whose building consumed a great deal of money is the only testimony to what was here before.
Awarta checkpoint is deserted. We take the route that not long ago was used by trucks loaded with merchandise. Tens of heavy vehicles had to pass through a peaceful village in order to keep away from the Apartheid roads and avoid, as ordered, entering Nablus through Huwwara.
We get to the town of Huwwara, where a big college training young men and women as nurses, is located. (The great majority are women with head covers).
Nurit V., who, in the past established a professional contact with one of the trainers, suggests cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian nurses. We meet with the dean of the college whom Nurit knows from previous meetings in Jerusalem. She favours the idea and thinks that the way to do it is by initiating interpersonal encounters, especially with trainers and teachers, rather than having organized connections, which entail a lot of problems and official permission. The construction that houses the college was originally built to serve as a hospital, but since there are already two hospitals in Nablus (11 hospitals in the West Bank) – there was no need for an additional one and the construction was converted into a college. The students that learn in this college come from different places in the West Bank. During the week they live in rented apartments in the area. The duration of their studies is four years. In the town of Huwwara building on a large scale is going on.
We go back through Tapu'ah junction. Three bored soldiers stand near the checkpoint and pay no attention to the passing cars. As we pass Shomron Gate, we are stopped by a policewoman who wants to know where from and where to we are going and also checks our ID cards.
Translation: Hanna K.
14:30 Azzun Atma gate – The workers haven't yet returned from work therefore there is no queue near the gates at the entrance for checking. The soldiers try to remove us from the CP.
14:45 The industrial zone of Ariel – accelerated building of big industrial constructions on the top of the mountain.
15:00 Za'tara/Tapuah CP –
A detained minibus. Its 10 passengers, Palestinian young men, stand to the side. A girl dog trainer with her dog check the minibus inside – the dog sniffs between the seats, outside the vehicle, underneath it, the upholstering of the seats is taken out, put on the road, undergoes a check.
The detained Palestinians are policemen who travel from Tulkarem to Jericho. The check lasted a quarter of an hour. The border-policemen try to prevent us from photographing. Tamar shows them the photographing authorization from the IDF spokesman.
A Palestinian driver arrives: he says that the settlers threw stones on his vehicle two days ago: a stone hit the side of the door – one can see the dent. A soldier sends him to complain at the Ariel police station.
There is a heavy traffic of vehicles especially from Ramallah heading for Nablus.
As usual settler notices are displayed flauntingly and without any interference on the CP fence (they now are about the going up to Mitzpe Yossef).
15:25 A commandcar stands ready at Huwwara; North of the usual place (the parking lot opposite Beita)
15:32 Huwwara CP – The soldiers are on the tower.
Near the tower one sees today (for the first time) a high wall of dense concrete sheets around a small container and above those a barbed wire fence. To protect the soldiers? To hide detainees?
Awarta CP –
A yellow iron arm closes it and is locked – there is no possibility of passage. The locals cannot reach the village, only by way of the Huwwara CP. We shall send in a photograph of a direction signpost in English and Arabic which bears witness to a forbidden road for Palestinians, i.e. an apartheid road.
Beit Furic CP – There were no soldiers in the tower.
16:50 Za'tara/Tapuah CP – A few border policemen are under the watch tower in the parking lot. Vehicles are not being checked.
Translation: Aliyah S.
There was heavy traffic from Nablus going south, but there was no checking of vehicles and the traffic was moving smoothly. There were some soldiers in the center space, but we didn't see any checking.
I asked Nadim what his ideas are on the Palestinian initiative to declare an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and if he believes in a "two state" solution to the conflict. Nadim is not optimistic. He doesn't hold out much chance for the success of the "2 state" idea. He does not believe that the Palestinian initiative will bring about the desired outcome for the Palestinians. With the current Israeli government he sees nothing to hope for. He even envisages a world war erupting from the conflict in our area.
The road into and out of Nablus was open. There were no soldiers in sight
We decided to return to Awarta where we had interviewed several men after the murders in Itamar, and after 5 days of closure by the military. Now after two months we wanted to see if things had changed there.
First we interviewed some taxi drivers at the entrance to the village. They complained that there wasn't much work. We were told that 30 men from the village are still being detained although no one knows why. One driver's son, 16 years old, was still in detention, for two months, and the family had not visited him. They really don't know where he is or what is happening to him. They believe the men are being held at the nearby military base.
The relations with the settlers are as bad as ever. As the taxis pass on the road there are settlers who throw stones; one driver's window was broken by a stone. The drivers claim that the police know who the culprits are but do nothing. In February one driver complained to the police in Huwwara. He claimed that the stone throwing was endangering their lives. The Israeli police have told the drivers that if they can't bring in a suspect then the complaint is simply filed and nothing is done about it. We asked them about their ideas on the "two state" solution, and the Paletinian initiative. Their answers were very lukewarm; they don't have much hope for it, especially with all the settlers.
In the village we went back to the workshop (for changing vehicular oils) that we had first been to. The same men welcomed us back with tea and stories. Just the day before several farmers had gone to work their land. On their way, on the road to Yanun, settlers came to the road and threw stones at them, then the settlers stole a donkey. There was a military jeep nearby but the soldiers did nothing, and then they left. The farmers couldn't get to their land but they did get the donkey back.
There are many stories about the harassment and the stealing that the settlers perpetrate. The sheep that are owned by the settlers in Itamar are regularly grazed on Palestinian land belonging to the farmers in Awarta. The sheep eat the young growth on the trees of Awarta. This is the same area where some time ago two children from Awarta were killed. A settler was arrested but nothing came of it and he was released. The settlers say that because of this the Fogel family was murdered. Just then a man about 40 years old walked up to Nadim's empty car. He stuck his head in through the open window and shouted something incomprehensible to no one. This man had been arrested and during his detention he had been hit repeatedly on the head. Since they released him he has acted strangely and in an uncontrollable manner.
Also here we asked the men what they think of the plan to go to the UN for a declaration of a Palestinian state. "What's the point," they said, "with all the settlers here." "It's the idea of the Fatah." Again we met with a rather pessimistic reception of the idea. Then another man walked in, sat down, said hello all around and asked what the discussion was. He launched into a heated speech, after which Nadim argued with him; then the others joined the argument. We couldn't understand anything, and they were so into the argument that we couldn't stop them for translation. Finally, Nadim gave us some idea of what was being said. This man was definitely against the idea of two states. He had some very good points as to why it would never come into being. He is in favor of one Palestinian state with citizenship for all the people, Jews and Arabs and anyone else.
On Monday evening, 30.5.11, there was a discussion at the Coalition of Women for Peace with Tamar Gozansky arguing for "two states" and Sahar Francis from Adameer, arguing for one state for all its citizens. A very lively and loud argument ensued. Both Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, are very much divided on this issue.
Azzun Atma, Hawwara, Awarta and Beit Furik 19 May 2011
Watchers and reporters: Shosh D., Esti V., and Nava A.
Translation: Suzanne O.
A short shift with no sensational incidents.
There is a long queue of labourers (more than 50) winding around across the car park. The soldiers tell us that there was a problem with the computers which, of course, does not help the people queuing.
One of the labourers requests help for his son who is refused entry to Israel by the Shabak and we give him a telephone number he can contact.
At Shomron Crossing the civilian police are at the exit from Israel and there is a shortish queue of settlers in the opposite direction.
The entrances to Marda and Zeita are open.
The positions are staffed by Border Police. They do not inspect cars but their very presence interferes with the flow of traffic, every car slows down as it arrives at the position creating a queue at the top of the road.
There is no military activity.
Near the Hawwara roadblock roundabout there is a yellow sign in English and Arabic instructing Palestinian cars to turn right only. Possibly it means that they are not permitted to go left in the direction of the Bracha settlement but what it means in fact is that they are not permitted to drive straight ahead in the direction of Nablus. We did not understand it and photographed it and will perhaps send the photo on later.
Unsurprisingly the yellow barrier still bars the crossing.
There is no IDF presence and the traffic flows unhindered.
Deserted by soldiers. There is a soldier guarding the hitchhikers' station.
There are soldiers in the positions and, from time to time, they stop a car for inspection. A taxi is parked at the side waiting for the return of its passengers' documents. A car waits because the civilian police in the car park have given him a fine. The policeman was not prepared 'to infringe the privacy of a citizen' by telling us what the fine was for. The Border Police were concerned for our safety as long as the car was parked in the car park.
At Shomron Crossing the inspection on entering Israel is superficial as usual.
Nakba Day – Increased military presence everywhere
11:00 We meet W.M., whom the police have forbidden to enter Israel, and have him sign a power of attorney for a lawyer.
11:10 Tapuach junction. There is a Hummer and a military ambulance at the traffic circle. Two armed soldiers next to the concrete position. No traffic delays. Settlers and soldiers waiting at the bus stop.
11:15 Huwwara. The main street is quiet. Nothing is unusual, except for the presence of military vehicles.
11:30 Huwwara checkpoint. Light traffic. An officer and soldier come toward us and say the only cars they’re stopping are those with Israeli license plates.
11:40 We continue toward Alon Moreh. Awarta junction – a military vehicle leaves the village. We give a ride to five women, who crowd into the back seat, and continue uphill toward the mosque. We reach the municipal building through the narrow alleys. A municipal employee tells us: the day before yesterday (Friday night) soldiers went through the village streets but nothing unusual happened. Twenty youths are still in jail. Schools and offices are open today until 11:00; most stores are open.
12:00 Awarta checkpoint –There isa military vehicle with four soldiers next to it. No traffic.
A sign before the right turn to Yitzhar: “Checkpoint;” a military vehicle and three soldiers next to it.
We return to Huwwara and turn onto Route 505.
12:50 Al Funduq. Life seems to go on normally. A few shops are closed.
13:00 There is a military ambulance before the entrance to Karnei Shomron. The IDF is ready for everything.
We drive into Izbat Tabib, hoping to meet the village mukhtar. But it’s quiet near his house. No one enters or leaves, and we continue to 'Azzun. Quiet. Is it the afternoon siesta or shops closed for Nakba Day?
We see the remnants of a burning tire. We go into a stop to ask about it. An hour and a half ago the army showed up, children threw stones, the soldiers fired into the air and shot tear gas. The children burned a tire. The Palestinian police made the children leave (photo attached).
Leaving 'Azzun, we see rocks scattered on the road, a reminder of what happened an hour and a half ago (photo attached).
13:40 Eliyahu gate – Only a few cars go through.
13:45 Habla – Two military vehicles on the patrol road and two more on the Israeli side. No Palestinians entering or leaving.
Translation: Suzanne O.
There are no soldiers on the road. There is a soldier in the pillbox. 3 soldiers are in a military jeep parked in the large car park.
Opposite there is a police patrol car which stops cars to hand out traffic violation fines.
Observation point above Ma'ale Efrayim
10:25 a.m. - There is a military Hummer jeep at the OP. It was still there when we returned an hour later.
Ma'ale Efrayim roadblock
10:30 a.m. - Empty
11:00 a.m. - There are 4 soldiers, no cars.
There are two people waiting at the exit and, as we arrive, they are picked up (by a car with Israeli registration numbers) – hugs, kisses and joy all around.
We continue on to a Bedouin camp to give them the clothes and shoes we have brought with us.
As usual, they are very polite and invite us to drink tea or coffee with them. We did not stop as we wanted to get to the demonstration at Habla at 11:30 a.m.!!
Ma'ale Efrayim roadblock
11:30 a.m. - Empty
11:45 a.m. - There are 4 Border Policemen and a queue of at least 20 cars in the southerly direction, there is a random inspection.
The police are no longer here.
12:15 p.m. - There are no soldiers on the ground or in the lookout tower.
Awarta - There is a jeep opposite the entrance to the village.
Beit Furik roadblock
12:40 p.m. - Empty. No soldiers.
A Hummer jeep arrives from the direction of Alon Moreh. The soldiers want to know where we have come from and where we are going and we reserve the right not to reply. They give up (it is worth noting that they do so gracefully and with an apologetic smile…).
1:10 p.m. - We got to the demonstration. See Dalia G's report from this afternoon.
Translator: Suzanne O.
There is a snap roadblock at Beit Furiq – security needs or collective punishment?
A long queue of labourers (over 70 people) winds round the car park. Each person leaving reports a different waiting time but they all complain about the length of the queue. The whole roadblock is run by female combat soldiers, and military police. Instead of the improvised tent opposite the inspection cube a small concreted tower has been raised with an inflexible female soldier guarding inside.
At Shomron Crossing the civilian police are present at the exit from Israel and a long queue of settlers is at the entrance to it.
The entrances to Marda and Zeita are open.
The Border Police in the positions do not interfere with the flow of traffic. The lookout tower has disappeared from the Menorah roundabout.
There is no military activity.
Unsurprisingly, the yellow barrier still bars the crossing. On the way back we will try to contact the spokesperson of the Central Command again. We have still not got an answer to our letter on the matter from three weeks ago. We didn't get an answer today either. (In the end they will probably write us that the barrier is against the Breslau people and not the Palestinians.)
There is no IDF presence at the roadblock. However, at the entrance to the village there is an improvised snap roadblock. Three soldiers have spread out spikes on the road and all the traffic is at a standstill. Very slowly they inspect ID cards and cars wishing to leave the village in the direction of Nablus and do not permit those wishing to enter the village to do so. Tens of cars wait in every direction. The drivers who are far from the roadblocks are unable to understand the meaning of the stoppage and try to overtake. Chaos ensues. We made a number of telephone calls – the humanitarian centre and the DCO – but no one there knows anything about the activity. As Israelis we overtook the whole queue insolently and the soldiers waved us across. In the village we were told that a few nights ago children threw stones at the windscreen of a military vehicle patrolling the roads of the village and shattered it, they believe this is a kind of punishment.
By the time we left the village the soldiers had already disappeared and with them the queues. Perhaps, because we telephoned, someone took the time to find out what was going on there?
Deserted. Some of the perspex buildings have already fallen down.
In the town Huwwara a new Burger King has opened. A sign of economic peace. Three Border Police vehicles patrol the streets of the town.
The traffic flows unimpeded. There are soldiers in the positions. A military vehicle is parked in the car park.
At Shomron Crossing the inspection at the entrance to Israel was, as usual, superficial.
Hanna K. translator
Closure owing to the Passover feast.
On the radio it was announced that many guests had arrived to stay overnight at the Itamar settlement and that today many Passover celebrations (the blessing of the Kohanim) with many participants, take place in Hebron and in Alon Moreh too.
AT the entrance to Itamar we noticed that they had created a new settlement.
There was much traffic of military vehicles.
13:50 Eliyahu Passage – a police CP forces us to execute a slalom at the passage.
14:10 Jit Junction – we didn't see any army. When driving up to the Gilad ranch, on the right, a delineation for lightening posts along the road is being prepared.
Settlers, probably from Yitzhar, on a tractor, are travelling on the mountainside, near Road No. 60 and the Burin junction.
14:20 Huwwara CP – two soldiers walk leisurely to the barrier, where a truck is parked. We didn't see any soldiers in the checking posts.
A group of soldiers rests near the trees of DCO Huwwara, near the Madison route.
Near the entrance to the Itamar settlement there are private cars parked. Beyond the road, in the northerly direction there is a tent and sheds of the settlers; they walk around the area – men women and children.
14:30 Beit Furik CP - We didn't see any soldiers.
We passed through Awarta – we were told that some of those who were taken for questioning had not yet returned.
15:15 Za'tara/Tapuach CP – there is a load of vehicles before the barrier. At the barrier there are military policemen who sit on a rock and talk. The Palestinians in the vehicles do not know whether to drive on or to stop.
Translation: Suzanne O.
As usual a festival for the Jews means closure for the territories.
During the 8 days of Passover the closure of the territories includes, apparently, also the area adjacent to the boundary area the near settlements and only a few labourers cross the roadblock.
There is no police presence at the exit from Israel and very little traffic in either direction.
The road to Marda is open as are the roads to both Zeita and Jemayn.
There are no soldiers at their posts in any direction, a few military vehicles (Border Police) are in the car park. A lot of traffic leaves Huwwara.
The town of Huwwara slowly awakens. Does the festival period have any effect on the businesses?
There is no military activity at either of them.
At the roundabout leading to Nablus and MountGrizim there are a variety of posters expressing the frustration of the settlers.
On the road leading to Awarta a military vehicle is parked but, by the time we returned, it had left.
Suddenly, on the shoulders of the main road leading to the well established settlement, a new settlement has sprung up. There is a convoy of cars with tents beside them. Bearded men were saying morning prayers.
We reported it to the DCO but they did not sound interested.
Later on an officer of the Border Police at the Za'tara/Tapuach car park would tell us that they are aware of what is going on there. Yesterday there was an attempt to establish a new settlement which the army stopped. "We can't disperse them from the shoulders of the road because they are elderly citizens"?! (I certainly remember that a few years ago I tried to park on the shoulder of the road near Beit Furik roadblock and the soldiers threatened to call the police if I didn't move away from there because I was endangering the traffic…)
There is no military presence. The traffic in the direction of Nablus is heavy.
The yellow iron barrier still bars the crossing to Nablus. The military vehicle which was parked on the other side of the road has left.
There is no military presence at the roadblock or on top of the lookout position. We saw a soldier at the top of the lookout position at the roundabout.
The traffic is heavy. There are no soldiers in the posts. There are a number of Border Police vehicles in the car park.
The yellow mustard flowers have taken over the area with just a few poppies peeping out between them. A tourist looking out would see a pastoral and blossoming vista.