Newsletter April 2023 - We were in Hawarra | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

Newsletter April 2023 - We were in Hawarra

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Saturday, 8 April, 2023


Newsletter April 2023

 Wood cut, On the Open Sea 1921, Rene Quillivic

These are dramatic days. Israel's right wing government has plunged us into a deep crisis. The crisis is about a judicial coup and involves a blitz of anti-democratic legislation being passed. We fear that many will be victims of the new policies, primarily the Palestinians.

Ramadan, Passover and Easter are upon us. At this time our protest and prayer focus on liberation, freedom, equality and justice for all human beings.


HAWARRA:  We have always been there

 For 22 long years, we have been warning about violence in the occupied territories in general and in Hawarra in particular. During those years, we observed and documented, what many others refused to recognize. 
Hundreds of thousands of Israelis are protesting and demonstrating against government actions which if carried out, will turn Israel into a fascist state. At the same time, we witnessed a horrific pogrom in the village of Hawarra. On February 26, 2023, four hundred settlers rioted for hours in Hawarra.The Palestinian residentsremained unprotected and abandoned to their fate.


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Burned cars, Hawarra, the morning after the pogrom, February 27, 2023      Photo: Wafa


A wide boulevard is at the center of Hawarra, a town that could have been a tourist attraction, and a flourishing agricultural center in the West Bank. However, this town is doomed to serve the needs and whims of the conqueror. It has become the settlers' playground. Shattered windows, cracked asphalt, arson and dust fill the air. Soldiers watch the action from above and from the sides.  When we are there, we never know if our visit is welcome.


As soldiers watch, settlers attack Palestinians in Hawarra town, October 2022
Photos: Erik Marmor Flash90 and Activstills


Settlers with venom in their eyes accompanied by hostile hand gestures, as their cars race to nearby settlements on the mountaintop. They plot, how to usurp more land or steal another olive grove. They descend from Yitzhar and Mount Bracha to threaten, curse, set fire to homes, uproot trees, vandalize places of worship, and harm passersby. 

Battalions of soldiers roam the streets.  In theory, their role is to maintain the fabric of the residents' lives. In fact, they serve as the servants of the occupation at the whim of the settlers.

MachsomWatch volunteers have frequented this street for years. We know how to read the situation in the town. Is it a moment of calm or will an event break out at any minute?  Are the shops closed because of closureinfo-icon or because it is lunchtime? This street reflects the national mood.
It is impossible to separate Hawarra from the surrounding villages and greater Nablus. Burin, Arak Burin, Asira al-Kabliyah, Madama, Einabus, Beta, all under a military regime that separates areas A, B and C.  However, there is always an excuse to enter protected Palestinian areas, hunt down a supposed terrorist and declare that peace will come.


A map of Hawarra and its surroundings


A Bird's Eye View of Hawarra: Checkpoints to the north and south

The Zatra checkpoint, at the Tapuach Junction to the south.  Here, Route 60 meets Route 5 and cuts the West Bank into four, with the aim of creating a contiguous line of settlements that will not allow territorial continuity for a potential Palestinian state.
The Hawarra checkpoint, an extension of the town's main street, which becomes the main entrance to Nablus.
To the west of town rises the mountain on which Yitzhar and its sister settlements were built as a chain of outposts. The vandalists come down the mountain and are joined by others from settlements in the West Bank. It is a year round mountain of fear.
To the east, a new multi-lane bypass road with a towering wall has been built. The road is designed to provide settlers with a faster road to reach their homes. Another apartheid road unavailable to Palestinians.  It is no coincidence that expropriated Palestinian lands, on which Palestinians could build homes and plant vineyards have been annexed for this road.


Our Interactive Map: An Accessible Tool for Orientation & Data



The never ending queues in Hawarra checkpoint, 2002-2008


Lives Filled with Obstructions

When your life exists between obstructions, you experience Occupation first hand.  Lost and wasted time alongside closed area curfews interrupt life. These rules govern people who have no ability to influence their fate, and their lives are in the hands of others.

Just knowing that these rules exist disrupts the mind. The most benign tasks, such as traveling to work, to university, for a medical examination, to buy a dress for a wedding, inevitably lead to thoughts about wasted time at the checkpoint. The sharp gaze of the examiner and the never-ending lines add up to fear and not knowing - will they be allowed to pass or not?


The request for permit in the DCO office - the checking in the checipoint - the detaineesinfo-icon - the ones turned back 
Photos: Esti Tsal, MachsomWatch, 2004, 2008 


Barriers do not disappear - they just change

The notorious Hawarra checkpoint, which terrorized masses of Palestinians, ceased to operate in 2009.  Opening the siege on Nablus was a gift given to newly elected President Barak Obama. Some roadblocks were removed, and according to IDF reports the number of terrorist attacks decreased.

No apology was ever given about the unnecessary harm inflicted on thousands of people who were forced to stand in those lines, far from any entrance to Israel. This checkpoint operated mainly to provide protection for the settlers and gave them the freedom to establish their outposts.
Ghostlike, the abandoned checkpoint still stands. Waiting for the time in which the occupation forces will decide that there is a security need for it, or some political reason or just a whim. 

Since then, the settlements and outposts have multiplied, expanded, and under the auspices of the army, begun to block the right of passage of Palestinians on the roads and side access roads to their villages and olive orchards. The settlements have turned into the neighbors from hell.

Hawarra  tells the story of the occupation in all its ugliness. The West Bank is always burning. The ashes of these fires flicker, smoke, and sometimes flare up. A visitor will wonder and will ask the person standing at her side, "But why, why is it like this?"  The question remains unanswered, because it is unanswerable.


Settlers from Givat Ronen burn olive trees in Kafar Burin on the eve of Yom Kippur, October 8, 2019, Photography: local photographer


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There was no hidden secret here

Our website demonstrates that for 20 years we have documented the settlers' violent actions inflicted upon villages and townships, schools, public buildings and even residents' homes.  These actions are always backed by the army who looks aside. The Palestinian residents have been left to their fate for many years.  We cried out, but our cries fell on deaf ears.

There are hundreds of reports where we have documented our observations at the checkpoint and in town.  Over the years, we have heard many personal stories, which the people of Hawarra shared with us.  

The Israeli Government with the help of police and army forces could have prevented the horrific 2023 pogrom in Hawarra.  Violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories is recurring and ongoing with nothing being done to prevent such actions.  Will the severity of the Hawarra pogrom force the Israeli Government to face the consequences of the ongoing Occupation, which affects not only the Palestinians but also Israelis.


 a Palestinian woman outside her house burnt in an attack by Israeli Settlers at Hawarra
Photo:  Ammar Awad, Reuters  


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A wake-up call: There is no democracy with occupation

A soldier who witnessed the pogrom was quoted in Haaretz newspaper on March 13, 2023:
"I feel that today it is difficult for me to reach the Palestinians in Hawarra and talk to them; there is a feeling of shame that there is nothing to say to these people."
The town of Hawarra should be rebuilt and its people should be supported. The perpetrators of violence should be brought to justice.
We continue to ask, "Where were you during the occupation?" The lively and emerging energy of the demonstrations must be associated to the understanding that there is not and will not be democracy with occupation.

  MachsomWatch volunteers protesting, March 2023


 Editors, writers, translators, production: Anat Tueg, Aviva Hay, Hanna Barag, Rachel Afek, Amira Ityel, Aviva Konforty, Yona Eyal. Photography: Local and activist photographers, MachsomWatch members  Distribution:  Ela Greenberg;


What is going now in Israel and how does it affect Israel's friends abroad 


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