'Azzun, Isla, Nabi Ilyas, Qadum
Stores are open in Nabi Ilyas, few shoppers. The entrance to ‘Izbet Tabib is open, the village is quiet.
09:30 Isla. No one at the meeting place. We drove around the village, ran into the son of one of the coordinators who’d forgotten to tell his mother about the meeting. After waiting half an hour we decided to leave.
I’ll find out how to contact them more effectively to arrange meetings.
10:00 ‘Azzun. Quiet. Shops are open, few young people in the streets. People rise later on Friday and attend prayer in the afternoon.
10:40 Qaddum. Children in the streets holding slings, ready for the weekly demonstration.
We met a group of men on the blocked road who told us that electricity to the village was cut off at midnight, not for the first time and with no advance notice. The residents think it’s collective punishment, the army’s way of pressuring them to cease the weekly demonstrations. The DCL told them it was a local outage; Palestinian engineers were sent to locate its source. While we were there they returned from the area to which Palestinians are forbidden access and said the problem is on the Israeli side, i.e. the IEC. I spoke to the emergency operations room; they told me the outage will be fixed after the demonstration. When I checked again after 17:00 I was told electricity had been restored.
Meanwhile we sat talking with the men. They told us that since the demonstrations had begun eight years earlier a total of some 200 villagers had been arrested. Today 14 people are being held.
20 demonstrators have been injured from live fire during recent weeks, four of them seriously and still hospitalized, bullets in their bodies. About fifty others have been injured by tear gas canisters fired at them, one with a serious head wound. They showed us photos of bullets that had been removed from the demonstrators.
One man said to us, “This is our road. They have to give it back. The struggle won’t end until they return it to us. We’ve been here hundreds of years; the settlement was established in 1975. The road on which we’re walking was built by the British.” All the villagers are united and determined to keep struggling until justice is done and their road reopens. While we were there they began preparing for the weekly demonstration. A group of children practiced with slings by the roadside; the adults climbed the hill from which the soldiers observe them and fire tear gas and tried to locate them among the olive trees; youths arrived with gas masks.
We Israelis have much to learn from them about the dignified manner in which they’re fighting for justice and their right to travel freely on the main road to their village.
12:00 ‘Azzun. An army jeep at the entrance, soldiers alongside. The oppressive routine.
At the plant nurseries we were told that the police cars that came three days ago were looking for people in Israel illegally. One was caught. A fantastic success…
On Highway 55, near the Bedouin bidonville, 5-6 police cars on the roadside.