'Azzun, 'Azzun 'Atma, Haris, Huwwara, Kifl Harith, Yasuf
We left for our shift feeling combative because of the drumming of the third intifada in the media. What we found was something very different.
09:10 We left Rosh Ha’Ayin.
09:30 The Azzun Atma checkpoint. Two jeeps at the entrance, about ten soldiers wandering around, 6-7 detainees who didn’t have permits to be in Israel wait inside the checkpoint. One man exits, then two women laden with bundles. The others will be held forever. We try to talk to the soldiers. An impertinent little soldier announces “I don’t talk to women like you.” A less aggressive soldier promises to send the commander to speak with us. We wait; he never shows up; we leave.
09:50 En route to Haris. A settler sits at the bus stop, alongside an armed soldier whose job it is to protect him. It’s a familiar sight. But: in view of what General Mizrachi, the Central Command GCO, said about 18 recent attempts to kidnap soldiers, stationing a lone soldier at an isolated bus stop, thereby endangering his life, in order to guard lone settlers who happen to show up there, is both irresponsible and shows the army’s terrible lack of judgment.
In Haris we meet the club’s director who promises that by this coming Friday she’ll ask the municipality to find a room for the women’s English class.
Kifl Harith is quiet. The checkpoint is open. No military presence.
10:10 Yasuf. We came after hearing reports of vandalism by settlers, with the army’s backing, a few days ago. We met a man whose car tires had been punctured. His home is opposite the wall on which someone wrote “Price tag – rock-throwing terrorists;” it still hasn’t been erased. He says that the soldiers who followed the settlers to finish the job broke into a number of homes and took a young man away with them.
Meanwhile, hundreds of pupils burst happily into the street. There’s a partial teachers strike. They’re teaching only half a day in protest over not having been paid. It turns out that hospitals and clinics in the area are also on a partial strike for the same reason. Life here is neither quiet nor routine.
10:50 Huwwara. The town is lively. We meet a young man from Afula whose job is to guard the road crew five days a week. He’s very satisfied. “It’s paradise here,” he says. Each to his own.
We see a change in the army’s activity at the Jit junction. Two jeeps partially block the road and inspect Palestinian vehicles.
A pleasant surprise at Azzun. The checkpoint at the exit to Highway 55 is open, and the concrete barriers that were placed to block a small gap through which cars sneaked in have been moved aside.
And for dessert: A high tension line is being erected opposite the Gil’ad Farm, for the settlements in the area. And where are they putting it? In the middle of a Palestinian olive grove.
11:30 Back to the Rosh Ha’Ayin railroad station.