'Azzun 'Atma, Tue 23.2.10, Afternoon

Didika Y. and Alice P.

At 2.30 pm arrived at Azoon Atme where everything was peacefully quiet. One horse-driven cart, carrying 2 bicycles and 2 men, arrived, was interrogated and permitted to pass. For the next ½ hour there was no other movement except for a young boy who trotted in and out of the checkpoint, approached us and started conversing ,offering to sell us small plastic-wraped packages of “termoos”at 1 shekel  piece. He told us his name – Mouad , was very friendly and suggested that he would like us to bring him a small dog which he longed to have. We said we would see what we could do.

The IDF soldiers were very friendly too –also bored stiff - and told us that this 8-year-old boy came every day at 5 am with an urn and cups, selling coffee to the outgoing workers, at l NIS a cup. At 8 a.m. he left to attend school, and he returned in the afternoon, again to sell his wares to the returning workers. A very bright young entrepreneur indeed.

Fare thee well and on we went, once again to Hawara, where it too was very quiet. A dozen or so cars passed with minimum delay out of the checkpoint. It is amazing how very peaceful, clean, and quiet this once very busy checkpoint seems to be nowadays. One wonders whether the Palestinians now use another exit. Here too the soldiers were very friendly and seemed glad to talk with us – what a change!!

We diverted to Bureen village where except for a few donkey carts, some passers-by and a number of children, not much else moved around.
At approx 4 pm we passed the village of Sa’.eet . A lane leading from the main road to this village is blocked by earthwork so that travelers going  to, or coming from Sa:eet need to change cars, this being the reason why a number of vehicles are always parked on either side of this encroachment.

We then stopped at Chatmar Shomrom, an IDF checkpoint and information point in order to enquire what the procedure would be in order for residents of Nablus to obtain permission to cross into Israel if they wished to attend a conference (or similar function). Permission to drive into this facility was not granted,but the IDF personnel sent someone out to discuss with us. They – again – were most helpful and assisted us with positive information.

Referring to the latest Machsom Watch Alert, the very same situation was observed by us at checkpoint Irtah where hundreds of returning Palestinian workers are held up for many hours in the pm when they return home from a  day:s work.

A very good article on this point appeared in HAARETZ 2 days ago,written by Ilana Hammermann.  Clearly it is difficult to understand why this chicanery is allowed.