'Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Tue 13.1.09, Afternoon
Translator: Charles K.
We stopped at Huwwara to observe the curfew procedure
which went into effect at 14:15
9 cars coming from Nablus. Mostly taxis. The line is moving.
14:45 Huwwara village,
The knafeh shop. Amit contacted me this morning. Yesterday afternoon she had seen the shop's owner detained at the Huwwara checkpoint, and then he disappeared from her view. She wanted us to find out today what happened.
The owner, M. L., arrives and is pleased we're interested. He serves us knafeh, and we sit together with H., the driver, to listen to his story. Yesterday the Border Police arrived in a column of vehicles to impose a curfew, as they've done for the past two weeks. M. didn't close his shop fast enough, and was arrested by their commander (with 3 bars on his shoulder), handcuffed, blindfolded and left in the Huwwara detainee pen for four hours. It's bitterly cold at Huwwara, he was shivering. Then they brought him to the DCO for three more hours of questioning. He was made to stand facing the wall, the soldier kicking his legs apart. Then the same commander who arrested him arrived with suggestions how to make the process more efficient: "Kick him harder, like this!," and also proposed jailing him for 4-6 months. He was released after a few phone calls. It was midnight.
That's how the army arrives every day, usually between 15:00-16:00, to impose a curfew. With no advance notice they demand that the stores close immediately and people keep off the street. They kick the storefronts, hit people and throw stun grenades. Yesterday the curfew was lifted at 19:00. Usually shops can reopen only the next morning.
While we're listening to M.'s account, a column of 5 armored jeeps appears with sirens wailing and announcements from loudspeakers, and impose a curfew. All the shopowners begin hysterically to move their wares inside and close their stores. At our shop they bring in the tables and chairs, the vegetable seller brings in his merchandise, the garage, the falafel stand, the pharmacy, all the stores on the street quickly close. Today they have to shut down at 14:15, and lose more of what little money they make.
"It's not serious today, because of you!" The jeeps pass by again on their way back, their loudspeakers blaring. They're now at the southern end of the street. We decide to see what they do. They throw a stun grenade. We stop next to them, without them seeing us coming up behind them, and catch them by surprise. I can't restrain myself when I see them firing another stun grenade toward the shops in the center of the village. I yell at the commander (who has three bars on his shoulder), "What are you doing to civilians; have you gone crazy?" The officer (Border Police) is completely surprised by our presence (as am I), comes within a few inches of me and yells through flecks of saliva that I should get out of here immediately! I was also shocked, but he quickly collected his soldiers in the two jeeps and drove away.
Huwwara's main street is desolate, though it's still daylight.
We continue to the checkpoints.
15:00 Beit Furik
The checkpoint has been reduced to three soldiers in a booth. "Random checks" of cars. The checkpoint is open between 05:00-22:00.
Awarta - No line.
Two lines. Few people. People in the humanitarian lane have their purses and packages inspected carefully. A woman veiled in black is asked to remove her veil. She objects, as does her husband who appears to be a religious functionary. But the female soldier orders her, in Hebrew, in the presence of the other people waiting on line, to remove it, and the woman lifts the veil...
A woman with a blue ID card from East Jerusalem, carrying a baby, makes the female soldier suspicious. Three other soldiers and an officer come over to examine her ID card from every angle, the baby's crying, the line is delayed, and they finally let her through.
The vehicle checkpoint - 30 cars on line from Nablus. Here's the procedure: The passengers get out some distance from the soldiers. The driver drives toward them. He shows documents, opens and closes the doors, hood and trunk, the passengers, standing at a distance, lift their shirts, remove belts, the driver returns to them in reverse, picks them up, and they go through.
A group of Master Sergeants stand around laughing: "Yallah - tonight there's a party for the 1000th person killed"...
17:00 Huwwara village - is under curfew. Only cars drive by.
Beita - Cars entering and leaving are inspected at a flying CP.
Za'tara - No lines. A military vehicle stars in the plaza.