We met in Qira to coordinate plans for activities with the women and to part temporarily from Sally-Ann.
‘Azzzun – A meeting at the municipality following intensification of the army’s harassment of the village.
Habla – Serious complaints from those using the crossing about the behavior of the new army unit operating it.
10:00 Qira. We were almost the first to arrive, as usual, and by 10:30 a large group of women had gathered at the center.
Today’s meeting was devoted to an evaluation of the activities and (temporarily) parting from Sally Ann who’ll be devoting her time to a new project at the Suzanne Dellal Center. The women asked us to continue with the physical exercises and useful handicrafts for the family.
The women will look into the possibility of teaching English to village children.
11:45 Azzun. We came to the village after a phone call from Daphna B. regarding the growing harassment by the army in recent nights. The women in Qira also confirmed there were problems and youths had been arrested.
We went to the municipality and met M., who summarized the main problems behind the continuing and increasing abuse of villagers by the army.
About ten years ago Israel closed the road inside the village from ‘Azzun to Highway 5. More than a year ago Yesh Din prepared a suit in the High Court to open it.
M. took us to see the road blocked by a checkpoint/yellow iron gate, paralleled by a high metal fence erected a few months ago on which are cameras. An electricity pole erected there three months ago supplies electricity for the security apparatus, including the cameras.
He explained that, unlike the previous situation, where the blocked road ran near houses of the Qaddum settlement, this is different. Although the road is close to the one built to the Ma’ale Shomron settlement, it’s not near the homes.
He says that Yesh Din had determined the army declared the location to be “a special security location” so there’s no chance of succeeding in the High Court, and the suit might even be damaging. A few months ago the village contacted the “Center for Defense of the Individual.” They also took up the matter, but the suit they were working on was ready for filing at about the time the Molotov cocktail was thrown and injured the Israeli toddler, and the attorneys recommended they wait to file it.
A short time ago they inquired again about filing the suit. Since then, says M., the army has intensified its confrontations with the residents. Recently a Druze unit was sent, which treats the residents very harshly. They search houses violently, sometimes block the road from ‘Azzun to Jayyus, and additional internal roads, prevent families from reach the well and the playground and particularly harass the youths.
The villages began to demonstrate on Fridays, demanding the road be opened. During this past Friday’s demonstration the army entered the village, fired smoke grenades and also arrested three youths aged 15-19.
On the way we picked up M., an acquaintance, who was going from ‘Azzun to ‘Izbet Tabib. He told us that on Thursday twenty villagers were arrested at a demonstration and held for a two-hour interrogation.
At the exit from ‘Izbet Tabib a jeep and a command car were parked by the roadside next to the fence.
12:55 Habla. Before we arrived, Anat S. (who’d been there that morning with participants in one of the military preparatory programs) called our attention to the fact this morning there were problems at the crossing because of the behavior of a new military unit stationed there.
The soldiers arrived at 13:10, opened wide the gates in both directions, but until 13:30 allowed through only people coming from Habla. They didn’t send them through the security room, but inspected and interrogated them at the gate.
One person who works in the area volunteered to us that this morning the soldiers stopped one of the children (about 14 years old) and beat him. They also made the school bus wait at the gate almost until 08:30. When the driver asked them to hurry up they reprimanded him rudely, as they did the person who told us. Again we heard the question: “What are we, donkeys? Aren’t we human beings?
Another man who passed said that inside soldiers are beating one of the Palestinians who came to the checkpoint. We heard complaints about the “new” soldiers from a number of people.
Before we left we tried to talk to the soldiers about what we saw and heard. They weren’t receptive. And then we told (with assertive politeness) two who were near us that rumor of their improper behavior has spread throughout the region, and they should be aware of the fact… Nothing in the soldier’s expression indicated whether he heard, understood, cared…