10:00 We drove to Deir Balut. Heading southwest on Highway 446 we see Jewish construction continuing on both sides. North of the road, on the ridge where the settlement of Alei Zahav sits, the neighborhood/locality (?) of Leshem is being built diligently. The same is happening south of the road, on the ridge where the settlements of Beit Arieh and Pdu’el are located. The tempo of construction is really frightening. On both ridges building extends almost to the junction of the road to Ramallah and Jerusalem, where there was once a checkpoint. On both sides of the road from there to Deir Balut are cultivated fields with well-cared-for crops. Let’s hope no one covets them…
Southwest of Deir Balut we see troubling new fence construction.
We came to Deir Balut to meet the coordinator of activities for women; about two months ago she asked to speak with us about possible activities in the village. In the absence of the elected local council head she was joined by the city engineer. She lives in Bidiya but works in Deir Balut. Nadim was very helpful translating and explaining what each side was saying. The city engineer speaks a little English, which also helped.
We told them about Machsom Watch and why we’d come, and heard a little about the village. It turns out there are almost no community activities for women – except infrequently, when outsiders offer help or training (non-professional) in various areas. We offered to teach English, handicrafts and perhaps lead exercise classes, and told them about the “Beach Days.” The coordinator preferred Hebrew classes. We decided to return in two weeks to meet with the women themselves to find out what they’d like.
12:00 On our way back we drove through the villages of a-Diq and Brukin. We saw almost no cars on the road and in the villages, nor any sign of the army.
We shortened our shift because of other commitments. Nadim was asked for his ID at the Shomron gate. We weren’t delayed.
Translation: Suzanne O.
On the radio they talk about the budding Intifada – around Nablus only the almond trees are in bud.
'Today the roadblock is not good' say the labourers. It turns out that one of the computer stations is not working and the exit queue moves very slowly. Tens of people crowd around the turnstiles. According to the labourers the waiting time is over an hour. The soldiers are not prepared to put in place someone to take notes manually. According to them their business is to take care of security and order not the welfare of the labourers.
At the entrance to the roadblock there is a new red sign. It does not prohibit the entrance to the village, just warns that it is dangerous for Israelis to enter. Is this not pronouncing a verdict?
There is no police presence at the exit from Israel.
There are no soldiers in the checkpoints.
Almost without our noticing it the settlers' buffet in the car park, which has been there for years, has been dismantled. One of those waiting for a lift says it has been removed because it had no licence. Has the law of the land reached settler country?
There is no military activity.
A military vehicle is parked at the side but does not interfere with the flow of traffic.
In the village itself the children are on their way to school. They have not heard on the Israeli radio that no schools are open on the West Bank so that the children are free to throw stones.
The yellow barrier still bars the crossing.
The roadblock is not staffed.
On the way up to Bracha – a soldier.
Heavy traffic of lorries exiting.
Translator: Hanna K.
A journey in the landscapes of Ruben and Guttman (Israelis painters) – if one ignores the army and the settlements
06:20 Azzun Atma: A calm CP. It seems the squadron became adjusted to its assignments and the soldiers are less tense. There is no long queue of waiting people. The soldiers allow the workmen to pass the turnstile and to approach the checking computers and thus the waiting time is shortened. A magnometer was installed and we returned to the well known sights of unfastened belts and emptying of the pockets. This adds another minute of delays on the way to the contractor's car.
SamariaPassage: There is no police at the exit from Israel.
07:05 Za'tara/Tapuah: There are no soldiers at the checking posts. A group of border-policemen watches from the nearby hill.
Yitzhar/Burin CPs: A military jeep waits on the roadside.
07:25 Beit Furik: No soldiers.
The streets of the village teem with children on their way to school, the girls going up the hill and the boys going down and all are of course in the middle of the road because nobody has heard here about sidewalks.
07:30 Awarta: The yellow arm still blocks the passage.
07:30 Huwwara: The CP is not manned. On the road up to Beraha settlement there is a soldiers.
Yitzhar/Burin CPs: The jeep went on its way.
08:00 Za'tara/Tapuah not manned.
Samaria Passage: Very sparse traffic.
A mini-intifada in Azzun
13:00 Habla. The gate opened on time. The first five people enter for inspection. They cross to Habla in five minutes. A pickup truck and two tractors, one of them loaded with seedlings, exit the village. They’re followed by a shepherd and his flock. All the Palestinians who arrive go through without delay. We hear about yesterday morning’s strike which was already reported on yesterday. A large group of Palestinians refused to cross because of the female MP’s behavior toward one of them.
13:20 Eliyahu crossing. No lines in either direction. A number of cars being inspected.
13:30 Azzun. The street is livelier than usual. Shops are open, pupils returning from school. Many vehicles on the main road.
We visit Z’s shop. After we give him the parcels, here’s what he tells us: About a week ago, children threw rocks at settlers’ cars. One rock hit and injured a woman. On Saturday night, dozens (perhaps hundreds) of settlers came to Azzun, threw rocks at homes and blocked the entry road. Villagers left their homes and burned tires. Many soldiers arrested the settlers. A number of Azzun residents were injured. A sort of local intifada.
This evening, Monday, we were told there was a new disturbance(Tomorrow’s shift should take note).
14:00 A military vehicle comes from the track leading to the guard tower, near Azzun.
We turn south, enjoying the white blossoms on the flowering trees and the green landscape.
We drive via Tulth, Siniriyya and Bidiya. We enter shops and a pharmacy, looking for someone who speaks Hebrew or English, but with no luck today.
We continue south. Red roofs of Yaqir, Revava and Nofim on the hillside.
We get on Highway 5 and drive west.
15:20 Shomron gate. A short line. Three cars being inspected.
15:30 Azzun Atma. The checkpoint is quiet. Everyone who arrives crosses quickly. A Palestinian who works at a quarry in the area says he believes there’s a great deal of confusion at the checkpoint when the military unit is replaced. It takes time for the new soldiers to learn their job and stop showing how tough they are. After they know what’s going on and no longer have to make an impression the crossing goes smoothly, without problems. The occupation routine.
The good news is that there has been much rain and the almond trees are in bloom.
6.15 Azzun Atma. It's raining all the time. There are a few workers next to the turnstiles and they go through quickly. The "Kfir" regiment's soldiers are welcoming. The sergeant tells us that this morning when they came to open the checkpoint 50 people were already waiting but now there are fewer and they go through quickly.
Shomron crossing.There are no police at the exit from Israel.
7.00 Za'tara/Tapuach. There are no soldiers at the checking posts.
At the checkpoints of Burin/Yizharno military activity.
7.20 Beit Furik.No soldiers
In the streets of the village the rain washes the streets and we do not see the children going their way.
Awarta.The yellow bar is still blocking the road. Also the large boulder is still in the middle of the road.
7.30 Huwwara CP.is not manned. The flags at the top of the tower have been replaced.
At the ascent Braha settlement is a soldier.
Za'tara/Tapuach CP. Two soldiers shelter from the rain at the post and do not stop the small flow of traffic.
Shomron crossing.The checking is quick as allways.