'Azzun 'Atma, Wed 22.4.09, Afternoon

Akha A., Racheli B., Sharon L. (reporting), Translator: Charles K.

17:25  ‘Azzun ‘Atma checkpoint

There are a group of soldiers at the checkpoint, including two colonels.

It turns out that today you can only go through to the quarry and the nearby localities.  Passage from the other side is free.  The gate closes at 22:00.  But, the soldiers tell us, in case of an emergency, they open it.  People coming to visit after the gate closes aren’t allowed to enter.  The sector’s deputy commander says, “That’s the law.”  Racheli corrects him, that they aren’t laws.  He agrees, and says – orders.  We have a pleasant conversation with the soldiers.  Few people pass through the checkpoint.  Their IDs are checked, and they’re let through without many problems.  So it seems, that is.


The soldiers claim there’s no pressure at the checkpoint.  Racheli asks about all the soldiers that are there.  The sector’s deputy commander claims that it’s a checkpoint that’s important to the army…


Racheli talks to one of the colonels, who allows us to enter.  We spoke with the unemployed taxi drivers who are penned up in the village.  One of them says that they’re not allowed to bring in goods.  They allow whoever has a permit, a business or a home on the other side to go through.  Relatives, on the other hand, can’t come visit.  The only place through which goods can be brought into the village is Tulkarm.  Vehicles from the other side can’t come in.

He shows us a document on which is written that this is a closed military area – the seam line.  He says that the situation is only becoming worse.  There’s a fence between neighboring Sha’arei Tikwa and ‘Azzun ‘Atma, and there’s also a fence and a gate lower down, that opens at 05:00, and closes at 22:00.  He says that there’s a soldier who shuts it whenever he feels like it, and even trips to the hospital are difficult because it takes a long time to open the gate.


“Vehicles stop,” he says, “and the people look at one another.”  Another adds, “They don’t stand – they sit, like in prison.”


Besides the enormous difficulties resulting from their being penned in, there was also a serious complaint about an officer named Sharon, apparently the deputy sector commander, who harasses the residents of the village.


Sharon drives around the village in various cars, by day and by night, enters the homes of residents and terrorizes them.  He hits children and adults, and tears up documents.

He burned a birth certificate of a 13 year old boy, and took away his cellphone, and two days ago took one of the taxi drivers at 21:00, and yesterday they didn’t yet know where he was.


Sharon’s been in the area for the past month.  He came back after serving in Gaza for about half a year.  We complained to the humanitarian office.