Azzun, Mon 14.4.08, Afternoon

Observers: 
Sharon L. Hagar L Natanya translating.
14/04/2008
|
Afternoon

A report by the head of the town council

 

Checkpoint
Azzun Atma.

  4 Palestinians hurt including the head of the
town council and schoolchildren held for 5 hours in a bus and not
allowed to enter their village after a school trip.

 Whenever
I go to the village of Azzun Atme I am never sure what horrible stories
I am going to hear even when I just speak to a passerby. Sometimes a
woman who has not been allowed to pass and gives birth at the
checkpoint. Another time a young man who was hurt when a tractor
overturned and bled to death at the checkpoint. This time too the
village did not "disappoint" me.  On 23.4.2008 we got to the checkpoint
of the village which is the gate in the separation fence which divides
the Palestinian villages in the east and the Palestinian village in the
west which stands at the projection between the settlements of Shaare
Tikvah and Oranit.

We
were standing watching the pedestrians and cars when two middle aged
men arrrived. I asked them if they knew how the head of the town council
was. I had heard about the incident on the 16.4.2008 from a soldier who
of course had forgotten to tell me that a Palestinian had been hurt,
children harassed and had only said that his friend had fought with a
young man in the village. I heard that Betselem had heard of the
incident and sent an investigator.

One
of the two men said that he was the head of the town council and showed
us his stomach and breast and also the scars of the rubber bullets. He
was lucky. Another Palestinian had been shot by live bullets
millimetres away from his eye and had been taken to the Beilinson
hospital by the soldiers.

This
is the story as he told it.  At 19.00, 4 buses with children had come
back from a trip to Jenin and Nablus. When they arrived at the
checkpoint the soldiers had the children alight from the buses and
asked for the IDs of the boys who had them. For some unknown reason
they refused to allow the bus to enter the village. The children waited
an hour in the bus and then decided to get out and walk home even
though it was not a short distance to do so. The soldiers would not let
the children do so and made them get back into the buses.

 At
about 20.30 the head of the town council returned from his workplace at
Beit Amin and saw the buses outside the gate. He phoned Bilal at the
DCO who said that the matter was being dealt with but nothing happened.

 Some
of the children decided that they were going to walk home. One of the
soldiers grabbed a child and hit him. A driver in a car arrived at the
checkpoint and asked the soldier why he was hitting the child. The
soldier hit the driver who got out of the car and returned the blow and
a fight started.  Then the soldiers shot into the air and threw tear
gas canisters. The head of the town council again phoned Bilal and told
him about the shots and the tear gas and Bilal said that they were
coming.

The
head of the town council then put the children back on to the buses and
started to walk towards the soldiers so as to identify himself and help
to solve the problem. He called the soldiers from afar and then the
soldiers opened fire with rubber bullets and hit him in the stomach.
They also opened live fire on the car in which sat the driver who had
fought with the soldier. Both were badly hurt.

The
buses were sent off in the direction of Abu Salman and the injured men
were taken to Qalqiliya. When the car in which they were taken arrived
at the checkpoint of Jalud the soldiers prevented them from going
through. In spite of his wounds the head of the town council remained
in the area of the checkpoint and again phoned the DCO and this time
the representative hurried to Jalud but still the soldiers would not
let them through. They also would not speak to Samir at the DCO and
said he should phone the brigade commander. When the shots were heard
the parents of the children came in alarm to the checkpoint and the
soldiers increased the shooting.

Some
time before midnight a captain of high degree arrived saying "I have
not come to make peace between the Bedouin but thought that there were
10s of injured." The head of the village was then taken to hospital.
At 24.30 at night he phoned the DCO to say that he was leaving the
hospital and asked that the checkpoint be opened as it usually closes
at 22.00 and this was done.

At some stage the children were allowed home and those hurt by live bullets taken by the army to Belinson.

The
head of the village identified the two soldiers who were at the
checkpoint. One of them is evidently the commander and his picture is
attached and the pictures have been sent to Betselem.

That is the picture of a school trip under the occupation.