'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah)
Beit Furik –
05:50 The checkpoints at Marda and Zeita were open. There were neither people nor cars on the square at the Za'tara-Tapuah checkpoint but quite a large number of soldiers were posted there. There were no people at the bus stop opposite the checkpoint, where the Israeli flag was painted on every concrete block. Posters with the words "Time for sovereignty ! Time for sovereignty!" were pasted on most of the concrete blocks around the square. Those posters also appeared all along the roads as we were driving on.
There were no checkpoints at Huwwara, at the entrance to Beita or on the road leading to Yitzhar. Quite a number of soldiers were posted at the check posts and on the watch tower by the Huwwara checkpoint in the direction of Nablus, especially at the junction to Har Bracha. There were no soldiers around the army base at Awarta.
We drove on to 6. No soldiers were posted at the checkpoint itself, but we saw some on the watch tower at the entrance to the village. They waved to us from above. Cars driving towards Nablus crossed without being checked. It was almost 7 o'clock in the morning. We decided to enter Beit Furik in order to talk about the situation with people at the municipality and in the street. Our plan was to visit two more villages. At the entrance to Beit Furik, there is a red new sign not prohibiting Israelis from entering the village but as a warning of danger. We drove along the main street. At the entrance there is a monument in memory of a young man who was killed on November 15. People showed us the way to the municipality. Unfortunately, it was still closed. We were told that the checkpoint is open during the day, but that at night the residents are harassed by the soldiers. Slowly, we drove back. When we left the village turning left in order to return the same way we had arrived we saw a group of soldiers running towards us waving their hands and guns. We stopped on the side of the road. The soldiers arrived breathing hard. Seeming quite scared they asked us if we knew what we had done. It appeared that they had seen a Jewish car (their words) entering Beit Furik. Immediately, they had called for reinforcements to guarantee our safety. We explained that everything was fine, that when we enter the villages, cross the checkpoints and walk among the Palestinian residents the Machsomwatch flags and tags protect us. They asked for our ID numbers and reported them as well as the number of our car. They were quite friendly but kept detaining us on the road above the checkpoint itself. From there, we could see that on the wall of the checkpoint somebody had managed to write "From Berlin to Palestine tearing down the apartheid wall". After some time we asked the DCO to tell the soldiers to let us go. At last after an hour, the company commander arrived. He claimed that Beit Furik is in area A, but after having checked he returned, apologized for their mistake and let us go. Meanwhile, the soldiers who had detained us and the soldiers who had arrived in the commander's vehicle surrounded us. They wanted to understand how we do what we do. Again, we explained that we have been part of Machsomwatch for many years and that nothing has ever happened to us. Maybe, the wonder, the improbability and the beginning of doubt had made our waiting worthwhile. Maybe, they wouldn't be so sure that the Palestinians "will butcher just anybody", that they are less than human. Or maybe, the impression would be erased the moment we left.
All the soldiers were wearing skullcaps. They belong to the Tomer regiment, orthodox Jews having joined the army. The slogan "They all had swords; being experts in war" appeared on their uniforms. The soldiers from the Rotem regiment, who arrived with their commander, were also wearing skullcaps.
Eventually, we laughed in spite of our annoying delay: The slogan is a quote from The Song of Songs, chapter 3, describing the 60 valiants keeping guard at king Solomon's bed "because of fear in the night". A young woman with myhr and frankincense is supposed to come out of the wilderness. Interpretations say that Solomon's bed has to be understood as "the temple". Sure enough…
Because of the delay - it was almost 08:45 when we were allowed to leave –we didn't have time to visit any other villages. At the Huwwara-Har Bracha bus stop there were quite a few settlers and even a larger number of soldiers. The traffic towards Nablus on the Beita-Huwwara road was extremely slow although the checkpoint itself at Huwwara was open. There is only one lane at the roundabout, so that's why the traffic hardly moves, we believe. Another reason is the fact that settlers coming from Itamar et al. enter the roundabout without waiting for their turn.
There were many people including numerous soldiers waiting at the Za'tara-Tapuah bus stop. Cars were driving in both directions without delay. In the parking lot there were only trucks with Israeli numbers and work equipment.