Beit Furik, Huwwara, Kifl Harith, Za'tara (Tapuah)
Jurish, Usrin, Za’tara junction, Huwwara, Beit Furiq
10:30 Jurish. We didn’t go on our shift last week because friends in the villages told us not to come. We arranged this week’s visit with A., the women’s club coordinator, who was very happy the activity was continuing.
But, when we arrived, only four young girls were present, who were as enthusiastic as usual to learn English and have yoga lessons.
Three women arrived later, the coordinator and two of the women who are most active in the club. We talked about what was happening in Gaza, and of course told them how sorry we were, and how we sympathize with them. It was a very frank discussion. They described the horrors they’d seen on their television stations. When we told them Israeli TV mostly shows the destruction, not the terrible injuries, one said: “Hearing is no substitute for seeing…” We agreed, of course.
We spoke mostly in English; Nadim helped translate from Hebrew to Arabic and vice-versa.
A., the coordinator, couldn’t explain (or perhaps didn’t want to?) why so few women came today. Perhaps it’s because of the war and the catastrophe in Gaza they feel so strongly about, and perhaps also because the older women stopped coming during Ramadan. She suggested rescheduling the meetings in the afternoon, which would be better for the women and for the girls coming home from school, who don’t want to forgo their meetings with us. The school year in Palestine begins this coming Sunday.
We started today at 10:45, and continued until 12:45, dividing the time between an English lesson with Shosh and yoga with Sarah and Nina.
Bella had informed the pupils she was going on vacation, and that Shosh would substitute for her. They welcomed Shosh warmly.
“Four high school girls participated in today’s class, as well as Maryam, who’s five. It quickly became apparent Sirin’s English is good enough for the baccalaureate exam while the others’ have only a basic knowledge. But the lesson went well anyway. We introduced ourselves and discussed events of the day. The girls talked about how angry they felt because of the war. The atmosphere was good; we all spoke frankly.
We read one of Aesop’s fables, “The Fox and the Grapes,” rewritten in basic English. We learned new words and conjugated the present tense of the story’s verbs. We concluded by discussing its moral. The girls were asked to write a short tale of their own at home.”
The yoga class was again enjoyable and successful. The pupils left smiling, as usual. This time Nina joined Sarah and helped the pupils follow instructions, which was very helpful.
10:50 While the activity in the club was underway, we made our circuit with Nadim.
The road to Jurish, as well as the bypass road, had been blocked with boulders by the army some time ago. This time we saw two ditches had been dug, and earthen beams erected, to insure the closure is hermetic! The army also prevents the construction of an alternate road the residents had intended to open a few hundred meters to the east. Construction material scattered along the planned route is evidence of the villagers’ willingness to invest resources to open a direct route from the main road down to the Jordan Valley, instead of the road through Kisra.
We saw about ten new dwelling units in the Midgalim settlement adjacent to Jurish, on the hillside, still without windows. They overlook the road and the lovely landscape down the hill.
At Za’tara, on the way to Ramallah, a taxi has been pulled to the side for inspection of the vehicle and the passengers.
On the way to Huwwara, as well as in the entire area, there are two soldiers at each hitchhiking station, to guard any settler arriving to get a ride. (It’s interesting that there have been budget cuts for security coordinators and their vehicles in the localities surrounding Gaza, but there’s no manpower shortage when it comes to protecting settlers in the Jordan Valley).
An army jeep is parked at the entrance to Beita. There are three army jeeps at the exit from Huwwara toward Nablus, an Israeli flag flying above them. One of the residents we spoke to said there are many jeeps driving around Huwwara today, looking for wanted men, or to “supervise” the two families whose sons were killed in last week’s demonstrations.
On the way to Beit Furiq we saw, from a distance, construction of a new public building in Itamar. Perhaps the yeshiva is expanding? A soldier is on guard in the pillbox at Beit Furiq. There aren’t any signs of the demonstration held there last week.
12:15 On our way back to Jurish we drove through Usrin village, next to ‘Aqraba. It’s a small village, part of a joint regional council with the villages of Beita and Za’tara. At one of the curves of the road overlooking the main highway we saw residues from burning tires on the road, signs of recent demonstrations.
We stopped to talk to an owner of one of the shops in the village center. He said that three weeks ago settlers came along the road below the village (he didn’t know where they were from), caught the son of the chairman of the municipal council, broke his leg and left him there. We’ll return to the village the first chance we get to learn more about it.
13:00 We left for home. At the junction of Highway 5 and the road to Kifl Hars the iron gate, that’s usually open, is being repaired.