'Azzun, Isla, Kadum
10:10 Isla. It was pouring when we arrived at the club for our weekly meeting with children from the village who want to improve their English. We feared they wouldn’t appear because of the weather. We were surprised to find the door of the club open wide. In the past we’d had to send one of the children for the key. N., the supervisor welcomed us with a broad smile and led us to a classroom which had already been set up, where 22 children of various ages were sitting. Some were 6-7 years old – in first grade. We divided them into two groups, engaging the first primarily in games. The topic for the older children was “family.” We learned the village had some 1000 residents in four hamulas. Most of the children were related, siblings or cousins. They’re well-dressed and amazingly cute. Because the village is small there aren’t local health services. They must drive to ‘Azzun, and to Qalqilya in more serious cases, for medical treatment.
Shortly after 11:00 the older children began leaving for prayers. We decided to start a little earlier in the future.
11:15 ‘Azzun is quiet. Streets are deserted because of Friday prayers and the rain. A few youths outside. Most shops are closed.
11:40 Qaddum. We arrived before prayers had ended. Many people waited for the demonstration to begin. Some on the opposite hills, some by the roadside. Others shelter from the rain next to the houses, among them a young woman from Nablus with a camera. She introduced herself as a journalist from Aqsa. Some stood on the outskirts of the village, at the distant location considered permissible for someone who isn’t a soldier, the unmarked line which the residents recognize as the border between Area B and Area C. Thick black smoke from burning tires rises in the background. The path is muddy, hard to walk on. We wait beside one of the buildings, talking to people standing next to us. The villagers are determined to continue their demonstrations for as long as the road remains closed. They talk about holding demonstrations during the week if they decide it’s appropriate. They’re willing to continue for ten years. They emphasize that the road has been theirs for hundreds of years. But they’re willing to agree to it remaining closed to private vehicles and open only to public vehicles and ambulances. They’re waiting for a sign from the army. They don’t have faith in words. They’re waiting for action.
At approximately 12:00, when prayers ended, we could hear loud voices from the village and the noise of a dense crowd of people approaching, a crier announcing their arrival. Photographers from Palestinian TV and from Al Aqsa pass us, hurrying toward the demonstration. A tractor pulling a wagon loaded with tires drives rapidly to the focus of events, unloads and returns to the village. An ambulance arrives, parks some distance away in case there’s a need to evacuate injured. We meet S., who’s also participating in the demonstration, and walk with him for a while. He asks that if we publish photos on the web, they don’t make it possible to identify anyone. We speak with him about villagers who’ve been arrested. A car goes by; S. says the driver has already been arrested three times but still hasn’t given in and keeps coming to the demonstrations. His friend, who had been released on Thursday, showed up at the demonstration the following day. Suddenly we heard a loud, echoing explosion – a shock grenade. Even if they’re invisible, you can hear someone’s in charge here. We asked how long the demonstration will continue. As long as the army’s here. That’s how the army operates – showing who’s in charge. He guesses the demonstration will end between 14:00-14:30. Meanwhile we must withdraw. The army is advancing, entering Area B, into the village. The entire area of the village is under the army’s control.
12:30 We must leave because of other commitments.