'Azzun 'Atma, Sat 21.6.08, Morning
We arrived to Azzun Atma checkpoint from the bank’s side, from Beit-Amin village, which is nearby the checkpoint. Approximately 20 people were waiting outside the checkpoint to enter in groups of 3-4, some were waiting to catch a ride inside the village and some preferred to remain standing in front of the soldiers. They were talking about the beatings from the past week. Arrogant soldiers were treating people disrespectfully forcing people to wait for a long time in the heat even though only 2 people were waiting in front of the carousel. Someone from the booth next to the magnometers room opened the carousel. No one can escape the magnometers; we saw a pregnant woman and a child enter the room. No one knows which damages may be caused by this daily exposure. It was very quiet so it was difficult to imagine all the violence and abusing which occur in this checkpoint everyday, that of course besides the obvious abuse of the invention of the checkpoint for the citizens of Azzun Atma. The separation barrier and the security road are visible on the horizon. Another barrier is planned to separate between the settlement Sharei- Tikva and Azzun Atma. This barrier will probably eat into the Palestinians’ lands. The houses in the settlement are directly facing the houses in the village; the distance between them is no more than 100 meters. The settlement looks very peaceful, not in vain, the houses are fenced off and fortified while crushing somebody else. Those who are inferior are imprisoned and crushed every single moment. We don’t hear any complaints about harassments from the settlement; the complaints are about the checkpoint, the soldiers, the separation and the imprisonment. I want to recommend visiting this checkpoint, suitable for every hour an every day.
We visited a family in Rafat village. We met the family in the checkpoint a week ago, the family tried to cross the checkpoint in order to work in the olives groves in Azzun Atma, or to get to an Israeli Arab settlement in order to support the family. They insisted on taking our phone numbers and invited us to come and visit. Rafat village is located between Azzun Atma and Dir-Balut. The largest settlement, which is the closest, is Salfit.
On the side of the roads of the Palestinian bank there are bare hills or covered with olives groves, the view are breathtaking. From distance every Palestinian village looks peaceful and calm. If a stranger arrives here he will not understand, for a moment, what is so terrible about this place. Even if someone doesn’t really look, ask or investigate, a bit by bit the signs of the settlement start to appear. Those names are not really familiar, for example Faduel, Nili, Naale, Bruchin, Ali-Zahav, Netafim and Machzevat-Nataf. All of those settlements are fenced off and have red roofs; the settlements are distant from the Palestinian villages. But obviously it’s impossible to get by without checkpoints, towers, examinations and harassments. Rafat village is small; the access to Salfit is long and curved with a lot of military checkpoints and tunnels for Israelis. We can learn a lot from studying Uchea maps.
We learned a lesson in modesty at Latifa’s house in Rafat. The hospitality was incredible despite the poverty, bit by bit a lot of people started to arrive to the small and empty house. A neighbor, a sister in law, a cousin and her kids, everybody wanted to take part in the conversation. One of them told us about her imprisoned boys, the second told us about the difficulty of getting to Salfit in order to give birth. They told us about the difficulties in supporting and providing their families and the difficulties in finding jobs and about the injustices in dividing the money divided by the PA. They told us about the hopes and ambitions of the young generation that will never come true because of the occupation. Latifa, a Palestinian hero, didn’t ask for a thing, just wanted to get to know us and be friendly. The house was very poor but rich with values and pride. They were very proud of their boys and their achievements in school. The concern for the best education is common to all mothers. This visit gave us a bit of hope and we were very attached to those people whom we met in the checkpoint.