Haris, Huwwara, Shomron Crossing, Za'tara (Tapuah)

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Ana Shidlo, Aliyah Strauss, reporting

9:15 We entered the Palestinian territories through the Shomron crossing. At Haris junction a military jeep was standing by the bus-stop. We saw no activity around it.

At Za'tara /Tapuach Junction there were several Israeli police cars in the center. Here, too, we did not see any activity around the cars. At the bus-stop on the road to Ramallah (road 60), where settlers often wait for a bus or a ride, there was no one waiting. Two soldiers were standing and talking.

As Sawiya - is a large village on road 60. We stopped to talk to officials at the village council office. The head of the village council was not present. He is a teacher at the high school and was at work. Being head of the village council is a volunteer job with no salary. The two men who welcomed us into their office were working on the bookkeeping for the council.  We asked them if the village had any recent problems with the Israeli settlers. "The fact that they are here is the problem," they said. "Sometimes they bother the farmers."

One of the main jobs of the village councils is to provide electricity for the residents. The electric meter in each home has a card - like the SIM card for the telephone. The residents pay a certain amount of money each month and then they have electricity for that month.

The high school in As Sawiya serves several villages. It is located right along road 60. Boys and girls both study at the school, but the classes and the yards are gender separated. There is a high wall which separates the school from road 60.   While walking home from school students have been arrested by the army on the charge of throwing stones, whether it is true or not. Because road 60 is the main highway between Nablus and Ramallah, and many settlers travel it, the army wants the school to be moved away from the road. The Palestinians are sure that this is what motivates the on-going harassment of the students by the army. In February this year Machsom Watch received a request from A. M. of As Sawiya for assistance with the problem of the harassment of the students by the army. Have we done anything about that request? I don't know.

Three weeks ago the army entered the elementary school in As Sawiya and created a disturbance. We would have liked to talk with people at the school about their experiences, but that wasn't possible. Without prior permission from their Ministry of Education they may not speak with us. Education in the West Bank is possibly an area of interest for us to investigate.

We passed through Kfar Lipan. On the hills directly above the village are two built-up settlements and an outpost of caravans between them. The council building of Lipan was closed, so we had no one to talk to. Here, too, the council head is a volunteer. He teaches at a university, and works in the council in the evenings.

Yatma is a small village with a huge junk yard of old cars. On the edge of the village is an Israeli outpost. Actually the village is on three sides of the outpost. This is another area of possible investigation.

Star and Bucks We again passed Za'tara/Tapuach  junction. In the center were two Israeli police cars, two jeeps of the military police, and some soldiers. One Israeli police car was checking a truck with an Israeli license plate.

At Huwarra checkpoint the traffic was flowing. In Huwarra we stopped to check out the new coffee shop named "Stars and Bucks". The shop has a nice sign – Star and Bucks, Howwara  Coffee Now. And the area is enclosed in red plastic with windows. But it is closed and empty. A pity.

We left the territories through the Shomron crossing.