'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Habla, Tue 31.7.12, Afternoon
We drove to Azzun Atma in the wake of a report in the Arabic press that the road to a well which had been in use until two weeks ago had been closed.
Eliyahu crossing. Traffic flows through the checkpoint with no delays. Two cars in the “Authorized Palestinian Vehicles” lane being inspected, trunk open.
We drove via Azzun, Kafr Thult, Beit Amin to Azzun Atma’s northern entrance. Almost no vehicles or people along the way. The oppressive heat and Ramadan have apparently kept most people home.
[3 photos: the northern entrance to Azzun Atma]
We meet the secretary of the municipality, Abed Karim Ayoub at the municipal building. He tells us that two weeks ago the IDF blocked access to the well and to agricultural land with a long fence and concertina wire. Initially there was not gate; as of yesterday, there is one.
We decide to drive to the well at the southwestern edge of the village, accompanied by the children of a man we met opposite the municipal building as our guides. It’s not really a road; just a stony dirt track.
[Photos: The closed gate.
Hani Hamer, a farmer who’s in charge of the well, comes toward us.
When the fence and concertina wire were installed, without a gate, Hani telephoned the UN and the Red Cross. As a result of their efforts, as of yesterday there’s a new gate.
The soldiers at the checkpoint open the gate and we ask to go through for a few minutes.
Hamer says: Before the fence was erected, everybody crossed the road where it was most convenient for them and reached their fields by the shortest route. Now the farmers must accommodate themselves to the hours the gate is open:
Morning 06:15 – 06:30
Afternoon 12:15 – 12:30
Evening 18:15 – 18:30
[Photos: The new concertina wire fence.
The gate to the well.
The well, behind the fence.
The new gate erected yesterday, flanked by concertina wire.]
The UN representatives who dealt with Hani’s complaint came yesterday to inspect the site.
[Photo Two UN representatives and their vehicle.]
We met the UN representatives, spoke with Hani, photographed the fence and the gate and hurried back to the checkpoint which is open for only 15 minutes. A surprise awaited us: we’re forbidden to enter Azzun Atma. The soldiers demanded our ID cards and we waited for the company commander whom they called to solve a tough problem at the checkpoint. Absolutely surreal. A few minutes earlier we’d crossed through the checkpoint, left the car 200 meters away, and we’re waiting for the commander in the oppressive heat. We were happy he drove up a few minutes later, heard our story and ordered the soldiers to allow us to return to Azzun Atma.
We weren’t able to find out the hours the new gate is open. We believe it’s closed; the soldier says it’s open.
Back to the burning car. Again we had to drive via Kafr Thult and Azzun to Highway 55 because there’s no access to Highway 5 even though it’s very near.
Eliyahu crossing. No vehicles in the inspection area.
Habla. The gate is open. A solitary car leaves the village, a Palestinian with a horse cart enters. Everyone arriving crosses quickly.
A brief stop at the plant nursery to buy spice seedlings, then back to Tel Aviv.