Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Mon 31.3.08, Afternoon
The first day of the easing of the closure as decided by the government of Israel.
13.30 The Shomron crossing.
A police van, 6 detainees, sitting exhaustedly at the side of the exit.
We went to the entrance of the villages of Brukin and Dic to show our visitors the road which is blocked in the day and at night and which today is open.
The entrance to Marda is closed with the iron gate and there are 4 soldiers one of whom is a lieutenant. On the hill two boys of about 17 handcuffed behind their backs and blindfolded. The two of them have short sleeved shirts on and rain drips down. There is also a white van and two Palestinians of about 30 who are also detained. The captain says that the two boys were caught throwing stones and they are waiting for the forces which are inside the village to complete their task and come to take them away. The soldiers say they have been there 30 minutes. How long will they be detained. They do not know and do not know how long the action in the village will continue.
Every now and then one of the soldiers goes to the bound boys, strengthening their handcuffs and bandage. At least their eyes are warm!. After all they cannot see the sights of their childhood. This is a very difficult security problem.
13.50 A private car arrives and the soldiers check IDS and tell the driver, an elderly man, and his 4 passengers to park at the side of the road and to go into the village on foot. The man seems happy that he can return home and almost shows his joy and excitement. When we ask the lieutenant he says that whoever lives there can go in.
14.00 A taxi arrives and is ordered to let his passengers alight and go back. Another is given the same order and told to park at the side of the road. From this car an elderly man in suit and tie alight and coming to us asks if we are from the television and if we can help him. He is 60 years old and has a heart condition. He has just come back from hospital and may not carry more than 5 kilograms or to walk far as he will now have to do. He can hardly control his tears of anger.
Monologue. The actions of the army causes unnecessary tension. Each young man who sees how they act with his father or grandfathers will be driven to carrying out a terrorist activity. These children, pointing to the silent handcuffed youths understand nothing. How can they succeed against a large army. But they are frustrated and relieve their anger by throwing stones and doing any damage they can. We try to calm him and speak to the commander until he agrees to allow us! To drive into the village. A few minutes later a taxi appears and the commander order it to take the man home and he thanks us profusely.
14.12 A Hummer appears from the village and we thought we were seeing the end of the closure but it turns round and goes back in to the village.
Zeita - Jamaiem are still closed.
From the west no cars and we see the changing of a shift. From the north are 6 cars.
The commander, S., a reservist comes to us smiling and says willingly that today there are no special limitations. Noah P. phones and says we must get to Huwwara quickly as there are problems in the parking lot.
14.25 The village of Huwwarra .
A group of settler children with 5 soldiers guarding them are strolling in the streets and another 2 jeeps with soldiers scattered along the way are also guarding them from a distance.
At Huwwara CP
We are greeted with excitement by those in the parking lot. The drivers tell us that a moment ago a driver has gone to Huwwara to have a tyre fixed which was ruined by the CP commander (a lieutenant). He had let out the air and if a television crew from the 2nd channel had not been present would also have cut it with a knife.
He had said to the driver that it was forbidden to park at the checkpoint. The incident was photographed and shown on the second channel by Yoram Binor.
Another driver Z. arrived and said that yesterday the same lieutenant had hit him so badly that he had to be treated at the hospital in Nablus for broken ribs. He had been freed about an hour earlier and had brought his x-rays which will be given to Yesh Din. The lieutenant together with four other soldiers who are near are evidently waiting for us to leave. Therefore we divided our forces and I went into the checkpoint and Merav and our guests stay outside next to the Palestinians.
14.45. We got hold of the DCO, R. and ask about this incident. He makes a motion with his hand and said it had been done for the television crew. When I ask about what had happened yesterday he said that he had not been present and had told the man to make a complaint. He says that there is good reason to keep taxis away from the area because of the security. I drew his attention to the soldiers who were waiting nearby. He went to check and came back to say the demonstration ended and the soldiers went back to the checkpoint.
We speak to a man who wants information and the commander scolds us saying that we are good people with good intentions. The area has to stay sterile and if we to talk, please not do it in the area of the checkpoint.
14.50 A boy says he waited an hour and a half in the line. Another says an hour. There is no dogtrainer. There is an x-ray device.
15.15 An elderly man from Salfit tells us that an hour ago soldiers had come to his house, pulled his children out of their bed (there is a strike of the school teachers) , a child of 10 and one of 17. The younger one was very frightened and they had left him but the 17 year old was arrested in his pyjamas and without shoes. Today is very cold and windy. We tried to find out where they had taken his son but were told that there was no necessity to answer us and that here there is no democracy (which is true).
After many hours of waiting we were told that the boy was in the jail at Shomron. We informed the worried father.
15.35 Beit Furik.
A boy is detained. His borther was a shahid. Always he is detained and Merav was not allowed to speak to him. The checkpoint is closed by the military policewoman until we will agree to go beyond the white line.
The commander tries to persuade her to open but with no success. We phone R. to inform him.
At 15.47 He asks us to move which we do and the checkpoint opens. Cars pass fairly quickly and in the upper parking lot there are no cars. It is hard to know how long the line is from Nablus.
At Awarta there are 8 trucks waiting to enter Nablus and 2 at the exit. No detainees.
The "daughters of Oketz" (the dogs unit) have arrived. A dog checks cars. The entrance to Nablus is wide open and cars going in are not checked at all. There is a detainee who according to the ecumenical workers has been there an hour. We asked R. about him and were told that he would not answer. We ask if there is a security reason and he asks if they detain people unnecessarily. (No, just when there are mistakes).
At 16.40 he is freed and says that he is stopped at the each CP he passes, kept in isolation for about an hour and a half and afterwards sent on his way. He does not know why and neither do we.
At 16.50 at the corssroads of Burin a military jeep blocks the road to Yitzhar, about 20 cars in either direction. Shawn and Merav get out to see what is happening. The next moment a car nearly riding them over stops with a screech of breaks and out of it jumps the cream of our youth, one of the hilltoppers and from his mouth pours out all the usual filth. For the most part he shouts,........DDDRRIIIIVE away....you...... or we will break your camera. He walks behind them continuing to curse even though they have their backs to him. "You are still here. I will break your bones."
A police jeep stops and immediately comes back especially because they thought that the boy was a Palestinian. Merav and Shawn give their details and the police ask the boy something and he says NO and goes off.
17.15 At the Za'tara crossing 10 cars are waiting and there are detainees. But we had no time to stop.
Marda was still blocked and there were 18 cars and pedestrians. Two soldiers are guarding.
17.25 At Shaar Shomron the detainees have gone but a young man is detained arguing with the soldiers.