Awarta, Beit Furik, Beit Iba, Burin (Yitzhar), Huwwara, Jit, Shave Shomron, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 8.5.08, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
It is the Jewish Day of Independence - the Braslav sect is here, settlers from Chomesh are here and the town of Nablus is under siege.
6:12 a.m. At Sha'ar Shomron there is a tightly closed roadblock in the direction of the territories but there are no cars. At the entrance to Ariel, there is no traffic at all and there are no civilian police.
The entrance to Zeita is open, at the entrance to Marda the iron barrier is also closed.
There are very few cars. The soldiers are air force reservists; they are not particularly polite. They do not explain to us why there are so few cars at the junction. The menorah position is staffed.
We cut short our stay in order to see what is going on at Huwwara in the light of the information about the closure of Beit Iba because the settlers have returned to Chomesh.
Borin/Yitzhar roadblock is not staffed although a number of metres past the junction there is a spiked roadblock.
The soldiers glance into each car and wave it through.
There is no soldier at the settlers' hitchhiking station.
Very few pedestrians are waiting to leave the town but there is no crossing at all for cars.
A., the roadblock commander, explains that a group from the Braslav sect came back to Nablus during the night to pray at ‘Joseph's Tomb'. They are still there, armed and in two cars. The army wants to prevent them from breaking through the roadblock and getting away, for this reason no cars at all are permitted to leave the town.
Cars are permitted to enter the town with no difficulty.
The DCO representative arrives; he is updated and promises us to deal quickly with matters.
Meanwhile the queue by the turnstiles grows, it appears that they are drivers fed up with trying to cross by vehicle. Some are sent to Mishkefet.
There are no detainees or prisoners. The market starts to wake up.
A bit before the junction there is an army vehicle and a spikes. Here too the army lie in ambush for the Braslav. An iron barrier blocks the exit from the town and a long line of lorries waits for the end of the Braslav incident. The ‘cafe' is still empty.
As usual a long queue (16) await a wave. On the other hand, here vehicles are permitted to leave. (I don't even ask why - what do I understand about security?) Pedestrians cross without any hold ups.
Down the road leading to Beit Dejan we see a civilian car and two military vehicles beside it. We went over. The white car has been abandoned; it has no number plates and has settlers' stickers on it. According to the soldiers the Bratslav people left it, and they are waiting for them to come back to it. According to the soldiers the Bratslav people are being pursued in the area.
On the way to Huwwara we see that the spikes have been removed and lorries are starting to leave Awarta. At Huwwara too cars are starting to cross. According to the officer the Braslav people are still in the area, apparently in the vicinity of Ein Bidan, however, an order from on high has been received to open the roadblock.
The DCO representative updates us saying that in spite of previous announcements the roadblock at Beit Iba is still open but appears to be about to close.
Since the morning shift there was cancelled we decided to go and see what is going on.
The spikes ahead of Borin are still spread out and holding up each car.
The Borin and Yitzhar roadblocks are empty.
We went up to see if the removal of roadblocks had reached Sara village - of course it hadn't, a wall of earth still blocks the entrance to the village.
The preparations for Chomesh start at Jit Junction. Palestinians are not allowed to turn right. We tried to interview the ginger haired soldier at the junction but he was rude and refused to explain (on our way back he also called us whores).
Only residents are allowed into Shavei Shomron.
We are barred at the entrance to Beit Iba. Palestinians are permitted to continue on. The soldiers explain that the roadblock closed at 8 o'clock. Since then there have been no security forces there, therefore, we are not permitted to enter. A number of Palestinian vehicles are parked by the improvised roadblock in the hope that maybe the soldiers will agree to them crossing on to the main road. We turn to leave and the road fills up with forces from the army and the police. The soldiers have lists with licence numbers of vehicles permitted to go north.
At the side of the road: a car with yellow number plates and within an American journalist waiting for transport to the event. He was most surprised to hear that MachsomWatch members still support the removal of roadblocks and that we are not certain that the roadblock is the right answer to terrorist actions...
We stopped at an inn to buy hot pitta (after all it is the barbeque holiday) and joined the stream of blue and white flags on the roads of Israel.