'Azzun, Khirbet 'Asla, Tue 28.5.13, Morning

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Natalie Cohen, Naomi Bentsur (reporting), Nadim (driving)


Translator:  Charles K.


Azzun.  We came to see whether any changes had occurred in the difficult situation we’d observed when we were here about two months ago, and to determine whether there are any activities we could undertake with women in the village.

The checkpoint at the entrance to Azzun is open; we don’t see any military vehicles in the area.  We meet with the mayor and his deputy; they describe the current situation:  there has been a change for the better.  The Palestinian police maintain order and prevent the young people from throwing rocks in order not to give the army an excuse to enter the town and arrest people.  The unusual event occurred on May 2, after the settler from Yitzhar had been killed.  The army closed the entrance to the village, entered and arrested five youths, all under 18.  There’s been no contact with them since.

From what the mayor says it seems they’ve become resigned to the situation and are willing to accept it in order not to make things worse.  “The Occupation routine.”  For example:  A few years ago a clinic was built on the outskirts of the village, financed by contributions from international organizations, and then demolished immediately after the opening ceremony with the excuse that it had been erected in Area C where construction is prohibited.  The pool that had been installed survived the demolition.  To prevent its destruction they decided to fill it with sand and await better days.

Or – the soccer field built by the municipality.  After the army forbade paving an access road from town to the field, the only way to reach it requires crossing Highway 55 on foot, which is dangerous.  To avoid accidents, the field isn’t used.

But, while the town stagnates, the settlement enterprise continues to expand.  On our previous visit we saw a single electric pole erected along the route of the road that will connect the settlements surrounding Azzun.  Today we saw five poles.

And regarding women’s activities:  we can use vacant rooms in the municipal building. Hassan, the mayor’s right-hand man, will find out whether women are interested in participating, and if they are, which activities they’d prefer.  He’ll have an answer in a few days.


10:50  Leaving Azzun for Khirbet 'Asla.  The village buildings are enveloped in greenery and colorful flowers.   The grape arbors on the roofs and the vegetable and spice gardens next to the houses are a delightful sight – one that’s unusual on the West Bank.  We continued to Izbet Tabib.  Girls in school uniforms play next to the school, which is still standing.  So is the tent where the Friday protests against demolition of the school were held.  On our way back we saw an armored military vehicle on the hill opposite Alfey Menashe.  That was the only military presence we saw today.


11:15  Back to Rosh Ha’Ayin.