Deir Ballut, Huwwara, Yasuf, Za'tara (Tapuah)

Natalie Cohen, Neomi Bentzur (reporting), Nadim in the vehicle.

An especially difficult day.


09:30 Departure from Rosh Ha'Ayin.


10:00 Arrival at Dir Ballut. We were supposed to begin a session with a group of women, as was agreed with them last week. The feeling is festive. To our surprise, a lad arrives from the council house and informs us that the women will not come. Without prior notification, without explanation. Nadim calls Nivin, the organizer. At first she is evasive. And bit by bit the truth is exposed: one of the council memebers opposes our activity and under his influence it was decided to cancel our activities.


How can such a step be explained? One reason which, as far as we are concerned, it is easier to digest is – "the conservative men don't want to expose the women to "modernity". A more difficult reason – "we don't need your favours". Be it as it may,the fact was that we were kicked out. Sad.


10:15 Departure for a tour.

As we had time on our hands, we decided to make it an expanded tour. We didn't imagine that we would find ourselves in the heart of a terrorist attack which would develop into Price Tag. On the way to the Tapuah junction we already saw more military vehicles that usual. At the junction itself. Near the bus station, there was a big gathering.

Policemen, soldiers, armed settlers. We approach and try to find out what has happened. It turned out that around 09:00 hrs a Palestinian fatally stabbed a settler from Yitzhar, snatched his weapons, and tried to get away. Soldiers shot at him and wounded him. He isn't around anymore, was evacuated by ambulance to the hospital.


A woman settler tells us assuredly that the assassin is from Yasuf, near Yitzhar. Later it transpires that he came from afar: from the village of Shwayka near Tul Karem (it may be hoped that at least for the moment Yasuf is saved from a retaliatory act…).


We tried to extract explanations: what led to the stabbing? After all it is not logical to assume that a person looking for revenge would choose such a long trail so far from his home (which makes his rescues in a hiding place more difficult) just in order to stab somebody? Just like that? What was the trigger that cause the violent outburst? Was there a prior  acquaintanceship between them? What inflamed the atmosphere between the settler and the Palestinian prior to the stabbing?


We didn't get any answers to our querries. Will the investigators eventually try to find out whether the stabber had a motive? This remains to be seen.


While the military Zaka people (a religious organization of volunteers for finding and rescuing people injured in a disaster) perform their work, young people who fit according to their looks the description of the Youth of the Hills arrive from nowhere and the atmosphere becomes heated. One young man tries to shoo us away. "Who are you, are you the police?" we ask. And the answer, directed at Natalie is: "If you weren't a woman, I would crack your skull".


11:00 We leave. On the radio we hear the details of the event. Military jeeps patrol along the road. Every 100-200 meters there is a group of soldiers who block with spikes vehicles which drive in the direction of the Tapuah intersection. We, driving in the opposite direction. Pass without being checked.


All along the way, at the entries to each village, there are road blocks. Nobody can enter or leave. We arrive at Huwwara. Surprisingly the main road is lively. But in sporadic conversations with people it transpires that they are aware of the going-ons: "There is a mess". And indeed there is.


Ambulances pass with sirens, driving at high speed in both directions. And that's the reason: at the exit from Huwwara, at the roadside, there is a parked bus which drove girl pupils from their school. The front window is smashed. Wounded girls are transferred by ambulance for medical treatment. The price tag has begun its activities.


At the order of the border policemen we turn around and go in  the opposite direction. Large groups of settlers, some of whom are armed, are seen along the road. How did they manage to pass through the police and army checkpoints??


12:30 Back to Rosh Ha'Ayin, to another reality, to another country. The news announce that the price tag activities which we witnessed are only the beginning.