8:40 am: We entered the Palestinian territories through the Shomron crossing.
We drove past Azzun Atma and saw that there were no workers at the checkpoint and all was quiet.
We entered Haris where we heard that there had been house demolitions the previous day. At the entrance to the village there were 2 military jeeps and several soldiers just standing around. We spoke to some local men there at the entrance. They said that there would
be a demonstration at the meeting house in the village in protest of the demolitions. We drove to the site of the demolitions and got out of the car to photograph the destruction. A young man and a woman immediately came to us - a mother and her son. We were soon joined by others in their family. The woman, K., spoke enough English so that we could converse. She explained to whom all the houses in the vicinity belong - to her, to her uncle, to her brother, etc. A whole group of houses all belonging to the same extended family. The demolished houses were 2 additions to a main house that was still standing. The additions had been built to accommodate family members and their children. Now 12 persons were sharing one house. As she said, the children don’t sleep at night they are so afraid the soldiers will come back. Another destroyed house belonged to her uncle. Two more houses in the village are threatened with demolition.
K. said that 1000 soldiers had been in the village during the action and she pointed out the large rocks that the soldiers had pushed into the paths leading to the compound of houses so that no other villagers could come to their help. And we saw the olive trees near the houses which had branches broken off or even broken in half by the bulldozers. K.'s son, a student of education, atuncovered a huge pile of empty tear gas canisters that had been fired at the family while the bulldozers were working. Another son had been wounded by a bullet fired by the soldiers and had spent four hours in the hospital. We parted with K. and her family with wishes for meeting again soon in peace.
We drove through several more villages on our way to Huwwara. In 'Einabus we noticed a new 6 storied apartment building on one of the hillsides away from the center; it looked very Israeli and could have been in Tel Aviv. Nadim told us that local contractors are beginning to build apartment buildings for young couples. We certainly hope they are not demolished.
As we came into Huwwara we saw 6 military jeeps and soldiers at the Yitzhar-Huwwara junction. By the school a large group of women and children (mainly) were gathering. Then we saw a minibus from Burin arriving with young people. The windows were open and they were waving Palestinian flags out of every window. They joined the gathering by the school. We drove to the checkpoint and saw it was empty; cars were passing freely in both directions.
In Huwwara, as we ate falafel, we heard that the demonstrations were to protest the Israeli government’s decision for a large increase of building in the settlements in the West Bank. We noticed a caricature in the Palestinian newspaper on the table by us. There were no words in the picture of an old, bent over, weak looking Palestinian holding himself up with a walker. The handle of the walker was U, the legs of the walker were N. It was a sad comment on the Palestinian situation.
We left at 11:00 by the Shomron crossing.
תמר ס. מתרגמת
8:40 נכנסנו לגדה המערבית דרך שער שומרון, עברנו בעזון עתמה לא היו פועלים במחסום.
נכנסנו לחארס לראות את הבתים שנהרסו. בכניסה לכפר היו שני גי'פים צבאיים וחיילים אחדים עמדו על ידם. דיברנו עם אנשים מתושבי המקום בכניסה לכפר שסיפרו לנו שמתוכננת אספת מחאה נגד הריסת הבתים במועדון הכפר.
ירדנו לראות ולצלם את הבתים ההרוסים. איש צעיר ואמא שלו מיהרו אלינו. ובמהרה התאספו עוד נשים עם ילדים. האם דיברה אנגלית טובה. היא הסבירה שהבתים בסביבה שייכים למשפחתה, לדוד שלה, לאחיה ולמשפחה המורחבת. הבתים שנהרסו היו שתי תוספות לבית הראשי שעדיין עומד. התוספות נבנו ע"מ לאפשר מגורים לבני המשפחה וילדיהם. עכשיו 12 נפשות מצטופפות בבית אחד.
היא סיפרה שהילדים לא ישנים בלילות מפחד שהחיילים יחזרו. בית אחר שנהרס שייך לדוד שלה על וכן על שני בתים נוספים בכפר מאיים צו הריסה. ח. סיפרה שבזמן ההריסה היו בכפר אלף חיילים. היא הצביעה על סלעים גדולים שהחיילים דחפו אל הכניסה לאזור הבתים שלהם כדי למנוע מאנשי הכפר לבוא ולעזור למשפחה. ראינו בחצר סביב הבית עצי זיתים שהבולדוזרים שברו.
הבן של ח., סטודנט לחינוך, חשף בפנינו ערמה גדולה של מכלי גז מדמיע ריקים שנורו אל המשפחה בזמן שהבולדוזרים עסקו בהריסה. בן אחר נפגע מכדור של חייל ובילה ארבע שעות בבית חולים. נפרדנו מח. וממשפחתה בתקווה להיפגש שוב בהקדם ובשלום.
נסענו דרך כפרים נוספים בדרך לחווארה. בעינבוס ראינו בניין בין שש קומות בנוי בשולי הגבעה הרחק ממרכז הכפר. הבניין נראה כמו בניין ישראלי בתל אביב. נדים הסביר לנו שקבלנים מתחילים לבנות בנייני דירות לזוגות צעירים. אנחנו מקוות מאוד שהם לא ייהרסו.
כשהגענו לחווארה ראינו 6 ג'יפים צבאיים וחיילים בצומת יצהר-חווארה. על יד בית הספר התאספה קבוצה גדולה שכללה בעיקר נשים וילדים, ואז הגיע מיניבוס מבּוּרִין. היו בו אנשים צעירים שבאו לאספה בבית הספר, חלונות המיניבוס היו פתוחים והם נופפו מכל החלונות בדגלי פלסטין.
נסענו למחסום. הוא היה ריק. מכוניות עברו בחופשיות בשני הכיוונים.
אכלנו פלאפל בחווארה ושמענו שההפגנות היו נגד החלטת ממשלת ישראל להרחיב את הבנייה בהתנחלויות. על השולחן היה מונח עיתון פלסטיני. הייתה בו קריקטורה שבה נראה פלסטיני כפוף, תשוש וזקן נשען על הליכון שהידית שלו בצורת האות יו באנגלית והרגלים בצורת האות אֶן – דעה עצובה על המצב הפלסטיני.
עזבנו ב-11:000 דרך מעבר שומרון.
Translation: Suzanne O.
Unbelievable –the yellow barrier which blocked the road from Awarta to Nablus is open.
A very short queue at the exit, less than twenty people, in spite of the fact that only two checkpoints are functioning. As already noted, two additional positions have been prepared. The renovations continue. The electronic turnstile is not working and the labourers cross via a new gate beside it which is wide open. It will be possible for women or those returning to pass through without the need to open the gate for vehicles.
The awnings to protect from the weather have not yet been installed. That's probably why it isn't raining yet.
Reservists are here and working efficiently. There was also an additional group of soldiers who came to check that everything is as it should be. We asked what was going on with the binoculars reported on last week. They answered that it was before they arrived and, as far as they know, the binoculars have not been found.
There are no police at the exit from Israel.
We didn't see soldiers in the positions; there was a soldier in the lookout tower.
There was a lot of traffic on the way up the hill.
There is no military activity.
There are no soldiers. There is no flag flying.
We visited the village and asked about the municipality election results. It appears that in Beit Furik the official candidate of Fatah was elected. But what is no less important – more than a third of those eligible to vote did not do so because they are in favour of Hamas.
Halleluiah – The chain that locked the yellow barrier is gone. The iron barrier is now open and vehicles can cross to and from Nablus. We asked one of the taxi drivers how long since the change and he said about two days. He was not sure that the army did it (?!) and he fears that the people from Itamar will soon lock it again. (As we have already said they are the Lords of the country.) He asked us to act to ensure that the way will remain open because it saves both time and fuel.
We didn't see any soldiers in the lookout tower. However there are green and Israeli flags flying.
On the way up to Bracha – we didn't see any soldiers.
There is no military activity.
There are no soldiers in the positions; there is still heavy traffic on the main road. Two soldiers armed to the teeth guard a young woman settler at the hitchhiker's station on the way up to Ariel.
At Shomron Crossing there is no queue and the examination is, as usual, superficial.
The Habla Gate was conducted as usual, a soldier told us that the Palestinians tried the night before to infiltrate to Israel by way of a gap which they made in the gate and they were caught after they were already outside the gate. The soldiers saw that there was a movement from the observation point, the soldier said that they were many, about ten people. According to the soldier they said that they wanted to get out to look for work, and each paid the sum of 250IS to an Israeli driver who was to transport them.
We continued to Huwwara, the CP was empty. On our way we entered Burin. The Cuban woman whose son is in prison asked us to buy oil from her to enable her to pay the fine which was imposed on her son – 4000IS plus 1000IS lawyer's fee.
At the entrance to Burin there were three military trucks driving around.
Azoun Atma – a long queue of workers. The checking is very slow, and when we arrived everything began to flow and within a few moments all the workers were inside.
a flying CP on the main road in Huwwara.
The Za'atara CP wasn't manned.
Translator: Hanna K.
A hot and humid day
A considerable presence of military vehicles
During the night a few constructions were taken off from one of the ridges which was taken by the settlers of Yitzhar
13:45 Habla CP – Sparse traffic of passers by. All are being checked in room, vehicles are checked first by the soldiers, then the driver goes to be checked in the room.
14:00 Eliyahu CP – Many vehicles are waiting in the queue to enter Israel.
14:40 Huwwara CP – A lot of vehicles coming out of Nablus. There are no soldiers at the checking posts. From the CP building soldiers come over to us. To our question why there is such a load of vehicles coming from Nablus the answer is: "We work here, we perform all kinds of tasks". But the load breaks quickly up. In the tower near the hitch-hikers station of the Beraha settlement there is a soldier as well as in all the hitch hikers stations.
15.40 Za'tara CP. – A soldiers is posted at the
checking post but he is not checking the
passersby. There are soldiers at the guard tower.
Banners by the settlers are everywhere at the
16.05 Azzun Atma – Palestinians worker returning from work.
8:45 am: We entered the territories through the Shomron Gate. We decided to drive through
Ariel to see if there was anything new there, and also
as Tamar had never been there. There is a large new neighborhood on a hill farther to the east of the built up area.
Huwarra: The checkpoint was open and cars were driving through freely in both directions. An army jeep was standing in the parking lot.
Four soldiers were standing and sitting near the jeep looking entirely bored. They barely even glanced at us.
The checkpoint at Awarta was open and empty. We drove through Awarta hoping to be able to talk to our contact there. His workshop was
open but empty. We continued through Huwarra and Einabus. In Urif we saw a family harvesting olives. We stopped to talk to them and
to take pictures. It was a delightful Shahada family activity. A half year old baby sat in a swing-chair as his mother, aunt and grandmother
hit the trees to bring down the olives, and his father handled the heavy bags full of the fruit. The baby quietly watched the activity going on
We drove through Jammain, Zeita, Kira, Kif'l Hareth and Haris. Life seemed to be going on quite normally. We saw a few more groups harvesting
olives. At 11:15 we left through the Shomron Gate.
At 13:45 we arrived at the Habla gate which was open. People passed in both directions and the gate was closed at 14:15. We continued to Huwwara, on the way, at the entrance to the village of Jinsafot, there was a flying CP, vehicles and taxis were stopped and ID cards were checked.
On the road of Jat-Huwwara there was massive traffic of military and police vehicles.
At Huwwara the CP was empty, there was hardly any traffice, on the way back the Zaatara CP wasn't manned, at the entrance to Kif-el Haret stood three military jeeps.
And last but not least – Azoun Atma – we arrived at 15:45 and we saw the
Old sights of the Huwwara and Beit Ibba CPs. We left the car and crossed the road and saw a group of about 15 people and a five year old boy trying to climb the gate and shouting "we are hungry, we are tired, open the gate, we want to get home". We asked the soldier what was going on and they answered "that they report only to their commanding officer".
We talked to the people, you won't believe it, it simply drives me crazy they said they are from Azoun Atma their house are outside the fence and they have authorization. Each time they have to buy milk they enter the village after presenting the authorization and depositing the ID cards, but this time they left early in the morning to pick their olive trees which are inside the village. They finished their work and arrived at the gate at 13:00 to return home, they soldiers didn't enable them to pass and didn't open the gate and when they asked why? The answer was that the soldiers lost military binoculars and they were sure that one of them found it and that they won't return to their homes until they returned it.
We were absolutely shocked. We began contacting the humanitarian center and the DCO . I talked to Adal and they promised to check the matter. 20 minustes later they contacted us from the center and said that something had been stoled from the soldiers. When I reprimanded them they said they would take care of matter. Adal too contacted us and said that he had sent a jeep to check the matter out. A few officers arrived, three jeeps one after the other, they whispered with the soldiers, talked on phones but nothing happened. I call Adal, Adal calls me back, from the Center they also call and everybody promises that they would pass within five minutes. It is already half pas five. I called the Center and said I would notify the media. I stood not far from the officers and I contacted the journalist Alik Maor, a military reporter from the Megaphone organization, and at the same moment he passed this on while my phone was open. A few minutes later another jeep arrived and this time the soldiers began letting the people pass one by one, after checking them of course. At the same time one of the people calls me and asks us to photograph – look what the soldier has done. We see that the soldiers has taken from him the pail which was full of tomatoes and has emptied it on the floor. We took photographs of course and when we asked the CP commander why they did this he answered simply "how else can we check what he has underneath the tomatoes". And this is how the event finished and I ask you forgiveness that my report is so long, but it helped me unload a small portion of the pressure I am under.
We left at 17:45.
Translator: Charles K.
“Checkpoints bring peace”is the sign inside the new structure at the Azzun Atma checkpoint.
06:15 Azzun Atma: We were last here a month ago; the construction and roadworks at the checkpoint are almost finished. Today, because of the holiday, only one inspection station operates. There’s no line at all, the few laborers arriving at the checkpoint cross without problems. A group of laborers gets out of a contractor’s vehicle after a night shift; the morning shift hurries to take their place.
A huge red sign is posted on the concrete slab at the entrance to the checkpoint: “This road leads to a Palestinian locality. Civilians entering could be in danger.” The reservists don’t allow us to stand near the inspection booths and there’s certainly no possibility of them allowing us to enter the dangerous village.
The outer gate leading to the agricultural gate is padlocked.
Shomron gate: No police at the exit from Israel.
06:50 Za’tara/Tapuach: We saw no soldiers in the positions or in the observation tower.
Yitzhar/Burin checkpoint: No military activity.
07:20 Beit Furik: No soldiers.
We went through the village and saw photos of the candidates for municipal elections adorning every wall and a multitude of flags decorating the electric poles. There was no point asking who won because Hamas boycotted the election and it was essentially a struggle between the veteran and new Fatah leadership (sound familiar?).
07:25 Awarta: The yellow iron bar is still locked, blocking the crossing.
07:50 Huwwara: We saw no soldiers in the tower.
A soldier at the road up to Beracha. We saw no soldier in the tower opposite the hitchhiking station.
Burin/Yitzhar: No military activity.
08:15 Za’tara/Tapuach: Border Police soldiers in position, few cars crossing. Two cars detained off to the side for inspection, not interfering with traffic.
No line at the Shomron gate; inspections are superficial, as usual.
13:20 We went through the Eliyahu crossing; a truck had been stopped for customs inspection. The Habla agricultural gate is open; carts, cars and people with children cross to Habla.
14:00 The gate closes.
Funduq – Shops are open, people in the streets.
Huwwara checkpoint isn’t manned; no cars go through.
14:20 Burin – We met the mother and sister of the youth who’d been arrested in his home in the middle of the night, compelled to admit throwing a rock and sentenced to seven months in prison. He’s in the Meggido prison. His parents had also to pay a NIS 5000 fine and hire a lawyer. He was about to take his matriculation exams; now he’s lost a year of school.
A man named Munir tells us how settlers from Beracha and Yitzhar attacked olive pickers, cut down trees and injured people. Residents of Burin complained to the IDF; soldiers are guarding the olive harvesters. A sack of olives on the shoulder, soldiers to the left and right. The settlers are fine.
We were also told about a woman hospitalized after being hit in the head by a large rock. The incident happened in the olive grove next to the road from Burin to Huwwara, near the quarry.
We’re outraged by the Palestinians’ helplessness in the face of harassment by the settlers and the regime.
The streets of Huwwara are filled with people; traffic is heavy.
15:00 Deir Sharaf – Stone cubes remain on the road where the Shavei Shomron checkpoint had been located.
Anabta-Te’anim: Soldiers in the tower; no one around.
Jubara checkpoint: An armed female soldier asks for IDs. We’re in Israeli territory.
We took Highway 5 to Za’tara. The parking lot is almost empty; one military vehicle, and no soldiers in the positions.
On the way to Huwwara we saw a military jeep parked before the turn to Yitzhar, but there was no military traffic, nor were there soldiers at the checkpoints and traffic flowed.
The main road in Huwwara is being widened; foundations are being laid for streetlights. Residents told us it’s the municipality’s initiative.
The streets of Einabous and Jama’in are fairly empty; many residents must have gone to harvest olives.
We ended our circuit in the grove belonging to one of the members of the club where we hold classes, and helped a little with the harvest. We’ll now do so every week in different groves.
Translator: Charles K.
The earth around the olive trees has been plowed and cleared – the harvest begins in two weeks.
06:30 Azzun Atma: Construction and roadworks underway around the checkpoint. There are now two locations where laborers are inspected, with four computers. But only one booth is operating; the other isn’t manned. The revolving gate still isn’t operating and the laborers pass through the fenced gate.
About 40 laborers on line; many on the other side wait for their rides.
The soldiers say the checkpoint was closed yesterday because there was no work in the settlements.
The outer gate, leading to the agricultural gate, was locked. From a distance we could see vehicles driving near it.
Shomron crossing: No police at the exit from Israel.
07:05 Za’tara/Tapuach: We saw no soldiers in position. The observation post was manned.
Yitzhar/Burin checkpoint: No military activity.
07:30 Beit Furiq: No soldiers.
07:35 Awwarta: The yellow iron bar is still locked, blocking the crossing.
07:40 Huwwara: We saw no soldiers in the tower. But two stand at the checkpoint. We asked why today is different; they replied, amazed, “there are always soldiers here.” A car from Nablus has been detained nearby. We stopped to ask why. The soldier refused to answer, nor did the Palestinian driver reply. We didn’t stay, in order not to hinder traffic, nor did it appear the Palestinians wanted to talk to us.
A soldier at the road up to Beracha. Another in the tower opposite the hitchhiking station.
Burin/Yitzhar: No military activity.
07:55 Za’tara/Tapuach: Soldiers in position, but they’re not delaying traffic.
On our way back we saw, opposite the Ariel industrial zone, a flying checkpoint had been set up, creating a huge traffic jam, mostly of Israeli vehicles.
Shomron crossing: The car two vehicles in front of us, with a yellow license plate, is sent to the side for additional inspection. The inspectors refuse to tell us what was problematic about the passengers