'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 28.10.08, Morning
Translation: Suzanne O.
A wintry day, the dust has been washed away but the hard reality remains, preserved and heavy.
We entered the territory via Sha'ar Shomron, no hold up at the entrance but there is a queue at the exit into Israeli territory, it is pouring with rain.
There is not even one car from the direction of Road No. 5.
From the direction of Nablus there are about 12 cars at the crossing which runs smoothly. In the car park no cars are inspected.
The rain stops and the traffic on the road is light, the village of Huwwara wakes to another day's work. As we saw that the car park at Huwwara was not full we drove straight to Beit Furiq.
The routine is as usual at this roadblock, most of the time there are about 9 cars in the queue to enter Nablus.
There is the normal process of queuing at the car park, a vehicle is inspected, and then another vehicle approaches, when the inspection is completed the vehicle that approached is inspected. Today the drivers do not alight from their vehicles but drive up to the soldiers, show their documents and continue on their way, only a few vehicles leave Nablus.
There is a surprise a little way from the roadblock: on the pedestrian lane there is a large stone painted beige and brown on which is written ‘The Women's Watch Position'. Obviously we did not take any notice and went up to the entrance of the roadblock itself. The soldiers took no notice of us...
The traffic of pedestrians is relatively light, from time to time a group of pedestrians arrives, a lot of young women, apparently students, and they cross with no hold ups.
We went over to the kiosk, its owner has returned and he told us about the fire, according to him settlers burned down the ‘cafe'; they come in the mornings and try to cause provocation.
The inhabitants make their own way of life, on one of the vehicles which is towing another one, there is a notice in English saying that when the Hanani family is around, everyone should leave.
According to the driver the Hebrew translation is: ‘I'm here, everyone should fear'.
We drove to Awarta roadblock, at the entrance to Nablus one car is parked and at the exit, as far as we can see, there are about 8 cars in two queues. The soldiers are on alert when they see us.
When we arrive the drivers report that, up to now, everything is fine.
There is a constant stream of residents entering Nablus; some of them appear to have left there later.
At the exit there are very few pedestrians, the inspections are as usual and the roadblock runs quietly, the soldiers do not take any notice of us.
There are 2 checkpoints and a humanitarian checkpoint; it all runs quietly with no shouting although the inspections are the normal ones, belts, mobile phones, jackets, anyone coming with a parcel crosses to the other side of the roadblock to put it through the x-ray machine.
Throughout our stay at the roadblock very few people leave Nablus, perhaps because of the weather.
A group of volunteers from Italy, Paxchristi who belong to the Roman Catholic Church, leave after a visit of 2 days in Nablus, they know about us, they know some of our volunteers in Jerusalem and are most appreciative of the work we do.
The soldiers' tannoy announces something very loudly; we don't understand it but the soldiers immediately move the residents back in both directions, both at the entrance and the exit from Nablus, we move back too. The drivers joke and don't treat the incident seriously, and indeed within 2 minutes life returns to normal. (An exercise apparently.) The soldiers do not answer when we ask what was announced on the loudspeaker and what happened.
We left, the car park is full to bursting and there are stalls everywhere.
We drove back via Jit, Azon and Kalkilya, apart from a number of military vehicles driving around, there were no hindrances.