Huwwara and Beit Furik Checkpoints, Yasuf, Iskaka, Abu Falah

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Aliyah Strauss (English), Ana Shidlo, Hanna Zohar, Dvorka Oreg (reporting)

The day of our vigil was rainy and dark. The roads, streets and checkpoints were almost empty of people and vehicles.

The village, Khirbet Abu Falah, does not suffer from harassment from the settlers in Shilo, as do the towns, Turmus'ayya and Al Mughayyir. The army only passes through Abu Falah on its way to Al Mughayyir.

9:00 We went from Rosh Ha'ayin straight to Huwwara checkpoint and not on our usual route to the villages along Road 60, after we had heard on news reports that in the last few days there had been some bad problems at the checkpoint.

Za'atra (Tapuach Junction) - At every bus stop and waiting point for rides there were 2 armed soldiers on guard. A border patrol jeep was parked by the road to Ramallah. Across from the entrance to Beita another jeep with soldiers was parked.

9:45  At Huwwara checkpoint we saw no sign of the problems we had heard about. Everything looked quiet, the road was almost empty, and the few cars passed through without any problem. At the Beit Furik checkpoint the situation was the same, and along the 'apartheid' road (for Israeli cars only) we met very few cars.

10:30 - Yasuf - The streets of the village were empty. We met a few high-school girls who had taken an exam at school and were on their way home to continue their winter holiday.

Iskaka - The Council building was cold and empty. We were met by a young secretary who telephoned to the head of the Council for us. He said he could come to meet us only in another hour, so we left.

We continued along the road in the direction of the village, Kafr Malik. When it became clear to us that the village was a long ride away on a small road that goes down and up again with lots of twists and turns, we realized that this was not a drive for a rainy day. We decided to stop for coffee in the small village of Abu Falah.

11:15 - Abu Falah – We went into a Café that looked a bit different from the ones we usually see in the West Bank. We learned that the owners of the Café had been in Venezuela for quite a few years. The mother and the children returned to the village about 5 years ago. The father continues to work abroad, now in Panama. He comes every year to visit his family in the village.

N., the owner of the Café, received us very nicely, and was happy to tell us about the family and the village. (We have her telephone number.) She told us that in this village, as in the neighboring town of Turmus'ayya, most of the people live and work abroad. According to her, Palestinians who have made some money in Venezuela, which is a poor country, have opened stable businesses. Other Palestinians join them and work for them as salaried workers. The wages are not high, but are better than in Palestine. Those who remain in the village work in construction and/or on their olive groves.

There are four schools in the village; girls and boys learn separately.

Abu Falah does not suffer harassment from the settlers of Shilo, in this they differ from the people of Turmus'ayya and Mughayyir. Land for Shilo has been expropriated from all three of the Palestinian villages and town, but mostly from Turmus'ayya and Mughayyir.

12:00 Za'atra (Tapuach Junction) - The junction and the military area in the center are quiet and almost empty.

We paid attention to the gravel path leading from the hill to the west of the junction to road 60. This is the path that is permitted to the Palestinians to walk down to their separate bus stop going to Ramallah, so that they won't, heaven forbid, use the road that serves the Jews who come to the junction.