Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Sun 26.10.08, Afternoon
Husan Checkpoint: The intention was to reach Etzion DCL, but there was a checkpoint at Husan today - in fact a number of checkpoint.
Bassam from the house under “grass widow” treatment called me a little after 12:00 and said that an Israeli presence was important, and that the situation begins to be dangerous because the soldiers are beginning to rampage.
We arrived with an MW video camera (I hope something can be done with the films) and a digital camera - and tried to tell the story.
Immediately upon entry to the village, in the area of the taxi rank, we were told that we should use the western entrance (facing Beitar) because we would not be allowed to pass the block (checkpoint) here. And indeed, as we alighted from the car and approached to within 50 metres of the house, held by 14 soldiers - they guarded against us reaching the home of Bassam's relatives. “Closed military area,” they said. Yes - where's the order? The soldiers looked but did not find.
Meanwhile the children started to come out of school. They were not prepared to go around, but wanted the shortest way home. They were accompanied by two teachers to prevent stone throwing. The objective was clear: they wanted to walk down their street in their village, and wanted the army to leave. Clearly violence would not get anyone out, but residents said that our Israeli presence makes a difference and should influence.
First in line walked the small children, then the slightly older boys. The soldiers pushed them back. The children, disciplined by the teachers, moved back five meters. We were between them and the soldiers, and it was clear to them that we would not move without a signed order. Now the girls were coming out of school, and 200 children and two teachers were facing 14 soldiers, waiting for developments.
A phone call to the brigade spokeswoman, a phone call to the Civil Administration spokesman, Shlomit's conversation with one of the officers - and the soldiers also understood that it was not worth preventing passage.
Within a few minutes the approval came, and the soldiers opened a path alongside the mosque and the children, yelling joyously, raced home on their street in their own way.
At this point, the checkpoint composed of a Hummer on each side and a jeep began to move and the route opened up. But not for long.
Three soldiers suddenly stopped the traffic and began removing stones from a wall built along the church. Why move stones that are so nicely arranged?
The villagers were sensitive to every move by the soldiers, and were following closely and in terror this group that had entered their village to disrupt their lives.
The soldiers set up a temporary block from the stones and also found an iron ladder belonging to a disabled old man. “It's an olive picking ladder,” people around us told us. The old man was very angry - he does not permit... Again a phone call to the spokeswoman (and this is the place to note her attention and willingness to check and deal with every detail), who promised to check, and she let me know that it really was not right, and the ladder would be returned. I told the women around us not to worry - the ladder would be returned within ten minutes.
Meanwhile we chatted with the small children and with the curious who wanted all the time to try the borders of their approach to the soldiers who had woken them up the night before.
While chatting - one of the girls told me: you said ten minutes - and here, they have removed the ladder. But they placed the ladder between the two Hummers which were now parked next to each other close by the house. We wanted to take the ladder but were scared.
Then I walked between the Hummers and began to drag the ladder and one of the boys came and took it.
We stayed a little longer to coordinate with Bassam and his wife entry into the house to take things, and we also took the neighbours from the lower floor back into their home (they said that the soldiers had not let them in during the night, but it seemed to me that the truth was a little different - that they were so afraid of what had happened that they decided it was safer for their (many) children and them to stay far from the incident (a distance of one house away).
When the missions ended and an evening breeze blew, their two girls told us how difficult it was to study in this fear - and then they looked at the house and told me: “Look there are soldiers dancing on the roof.”
Three figures were indeed making strange movements on the roof, and from their booming voices, I could make out “the People of Israel...” and, to my sorrow, they vanished like some nightmare before I could get out the video.