'Azzun, Burin (Yitzhar), Habla, Huwwara, Jayyus, Shomron Crossing, Za'tara (Tapuah), Wed 12.12.12, Afternoon

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Rachel A., Amira I. (reporting), David W. (Amira’s brother from Japan, a guest)

 Translator:  Charles K.


11:30  Habla checkpoint.  Fences and gatesinfo-icon are closed.  Not a soul around.  A sign displays the hours when the checkpoint is open.


Coffee and plants with A. in the plant nursery.  The hosts and guests change places around the table.  A. is affable to everyone, funny, witty.  He’s always happy to see Machsom Watch, always repeats that we’re the Palestinians’ ray of light.  T., a friend who joins us, owns a fruit stand which the army keeps ordering him to move from place to place.  Now it’s located at a gas station.  His Hebrew is extraordinary he knows what each word means, the aphorisms roll off his tongue and it’s a pleasure to listen.  He learned by himself, from reading and listening.  A true autodidact.


A. tells us of an incident involving a group of soldiers at the Habla agricultural crossing.  They were being photographed with a raised weapon against the background of the lengthening line of farmers waiting to go to work.  He complained loudly that they’re not opening the gate on time and in response they fell upon him rudely, pushed him with the gun, threatened not to let him through.  A. submitted a complaint to the Palestinian DCO; he reports on a prohibition against complaining to the Israeli DCO in order to avoid contact with the "Shabak" (the Israeli General Security Service).


13:00 Jayyous

We visited our friend N.’s family.  He wasn’t home because he’d received an Israeli work permit.  His wife and children were happy to see us.  They showed us their lovely, renovated home.  A second-hand shop run by his wife is on the main street.  We made our contribution and drove on.


In Azzunwe stopped at Z’s second-hand store.  Machsom Watch women are involved in his “rehabilitation,” helping to maintain the store and with medical aid.  The army injured Z. psychologically and physically.  People come to the shop, inspect the merchandise.  They finger the clothing and footwear; the new salesperson behaves as if he’s always been there.  We made our contribution and drove on.


15:00  Burin

We met M. so he could sign documents aimed at removing him from the security blacklist.  We sat with his extended family whom we’d met on the trips to the beach.  We made our contribution and drove on. 


16:30  Huwwara

Huwwara is full of life.  New shops have opened, others are under construction.  The main road hasn’t been repaved like roads to  other roads villages even though traffic is heavy and dangerous.


Chance meetings:

At Mazen’s coffee-and-sweets shop:  David, our guest, is curious about the customers, wants to meet them and we use what spoken Arabic we’ve managed to acquire.  We sat with three youths from Haris:  a student, one who works in his father’s enterprise and a laborer in the settlements.  After a few minutes we hear about a youth about 20 years older who’s already been jailed in Israel a few times:  for six months when he was 16 and for a year when he was 18, because he threw rocks.  He tells us about his time in jail, that the 60 days of interrogation at Jalameh were hard.  Eight hours a day including beatings.  Then he was transferred to Megiddo where he didn’t do anything.  There are no longer classes in Israeli prisons like there used to be.  All he did was sleep and wait for his family to visit.  His mother visited once a month, for 45 minutes each time.  According to his brother, he was jumpy when he came out.  His behavior changed.


A man in the street who owns a chocolate shop invites us in.  He tells of an incident this week in which settlers from Yitzhar entered his family’s olive grove.  "Yesh Din" is dealing with it.


17:30  Za’tara.

Soldiers at the checkpoint aren’t watching the traffic.  It flows.


We saw almost no military vehicles on the road all day.


18:00  Shomron checkpoint

Our driver (Amira’s brother) spoke English, we hadn’t removed the banner and he had a foreign passport so they took his documents for inspection and sent us to the vehicle inspection area.

They asked us to empty the car.  Flats of plants we had bought  olive oil, etc.  They inspected and scanned everything.  The car was checked top, bottom, within.

The black hibiscus plant received special treatment: a security man donned gloves, took two Q-tips and stuck them into the pot’s earth.  Then he entered the laboratory, together with three more security people.


We were released after about 40 minutes.  As we burst out laughing from how seriously they conducted the inspection, the security people told us earnestly, “We’re keeping the country safe…”


The Chabad menorah is still lit at the Shomron gate.  It’s to remind us of other victories.