Blockade of 'Azzun & 20 villages, Fri 14.6.13, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
Blockade of Azzun & the 20 villages in the area, all the way to Tulkarm.
Today, Friday afternoon, I drove my friend who lives in Jayyous from his place of work in Israelto his home in my car which was loaded with clothing and items for his “second-hand” shop in the village.
Here are the three parts of the story:
1. We reached the entrance to the town of Azzunin order to take the road to Jayyous (the Azzun-Tulkarm road). But the turnoff from the main road, Highway 55, to Azzun is blocked. We drove back toward Qalqilya to reach Azzun via a detour through the villageof Izbet Tabib– but a jeep blocked our way and the soldier declared, “No entry”!
All the roads to Azzun-Tulkarm are blocked! What’s to be done?
How will residents of 20 villages be able to get home, since this is the road they use?
But the Palestinians don’t give up – we drove back one more kilometer to a dirt road which had been the route of the “separation fence” between Tzofin and Jayyous that had been removed by order of the Supreme Court.
(There had been a paved security road here to protect us, but now, after the High Court ordered the fence moved, its top layer has been peeled away leaving only the ruins, an obstacle course suitable neither for cars nor for agriculture.
We made our way to Jayyous along this barely passable track. It turned out that the road abandoned by the builders has become a main route – a highway for Palestinians…cars traveling in both directions meet on this one-lane path, smiling and greeting one another…and N. asks, How can they keep smiling?...
We finally reached Jayyous. I unloaded my car. My hosts fed me regally, as only Palestinians can. But something bothered me: How will I return to Tel Aviv? (the answer’s at the end).
2. While we drove round and round, N. told me:
Yesterday, Thursday, June 12, I left home for my job in Israelat 03:30, as usual. I reached the Azzun junction and saw three people sleeping in their cars next to the yellow gate near the concrete cubes.
Each had his own story:
A. A taxi driver – he’d been there, in his car, since the previous day, June 11, at 8 PM. He’d driven from Jayyous to Azzun, and when he wanted to return home found the gate closed. From that moment he’d been stuck between two roadblocks – one between the village and the main road, the other between the village and road to Jayyous and Tulkarm. And there’s no one to turn to. The soldier is carrying out his orders. No one may enter, no one may leave. When it opens – at 04:00, maybe – he’ll return home.
B. N’s brother-in-law left home for Azzun at 19:30 to buy something for the house. He returned at 21:00, and found a roadblock. He’d been stuck there since. When it opens – at 04:00 – he’ll return home. That day he won’t go to work.
C. A man working in Oranit. He returned home the previous day and was stopped by a locked gate. He’d spent the night in his car, and will then go right back to work in Oranit. He’d already (or still) been wearing his work clothes… The question is whether today, Friday, after having spent the night in the car and worked all day in the settlement of Oranit, he’ll be allowed to return home? I’m afraid not. All the roads are still blocked (from here he can’t even reach the improvised detours).
3. How did I get home?
N. and his wife suggested I stay with them until morning. They have a wonderful room and will be very happy if I’d be their guest. But I have my own family, and I want to join them for Friday dinner.
I started out. I reached the concrete road block. I didn’t want to use the bumpy track N. and I had taken. I decided to try to reach Izbet Tabib and then get to the main road.
I got there. And found the same soldiers who had stopped us before and didn’t allow us to enter. Now they see me again. “How’d you get here?,” they ask.
And I reply: There are ways…(and leave it at that).
Again they ask: But what are you even doing here?
Me: I have a friend in Jayyous.
They: What? A friend? In the village?
They: Did you know that a Molotov cocktail was thrown here yesterday?
Me: No. What about today? What’s happening today?
They: It’s closed, dangerous.
Me: So what will you do – leave me here in a dangerous place?
They: But how did you enter?
Me: The Palestinians are smarter. They always know how to go around.
They: They’re not smarter. We aren’t barricading them, just making it harder (those were his very words!).
Me: I want to speak to the commander. I want him to let me through to get home.
The commander repeats the questions, I repeat my answers. Finally –
Me: Will something bad happen to someone if you let me through to go home?
After hesitating, a strange expression on his face, almost helplessly – the barricade was lifted momentarily and I went through! Security wasn’t undermined!
For how long?