Awarta, Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Thu 19.6.08, Morning

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Esti V. and Nava A. - reporting

Translator:  Charles K.

Settlers are blocking the road from the checkpoint to Huwwara; the Israeli police don't even appear.

6:20  A police roadblock at Shomron gate leading east.

Little traffic leaving Ariel, and the policeman doesn't stand in the middle of the road.

The entrance to Marda is open; the roadblock at Zeita is still there.

6:40  Za'tara-Tapuach intersection:  Six taxis waiting from the west, and only a couple from the direction of Huwwara.

The checkpoint is still manned by reservists from the Air Force.  The female checkpoint commander is young, energetic, and accompanied by a dog handler.  A bus that was pulled into the lot for document check is released within nine minutes after being inspected by the dog.  The taxi waiting behind it isn't inspected by the dog and is released in five minutes.

An Israeli police car inspects a Palestinian car on the way to Huwwara.

No activity at the Beita intersection.

An Israeli police car is parked at the side of the road to Yitzhar.

7:10  Huwwara: 
The checkpoint is still manned by soldiers from the Nahal.  Traffic flows freely.  There's a binocular and no dog handler.

One detainee - a taxi driver who, according to the commander, has been warned a number of times not to block the road to Nablus in order to try to catch the first people coming through on foot.

Many students returning to school.

7:30  We see a stream of pedestrians crossing the square, like it used to be at Huwwara South.  A long line of cars is stuck in the direction of Huwwara.  We went to investigate, and it turned out that a group of settlers was standing in the middle of the road, wearing prayer shawls and praying loudly.  Next to them was someone who identified himself as the head of the Shomron Local Council (apparently Gershon Mesika, license plate number 86-435-61)

Very quickly there was a mess, cars that could not travel in either direction.  Pedestrians going to Nablus got out of the taxis and buses and walked to the checkpoint.  The soldiers surrounded the people who were praying, at first asking them "as a favor" to clear the road, and then started yelling at them.  Nothing helped, of course.  The checkpoint commander and the DCO representative telephoned their superiors and I called the police (100).  The Ariel police station answered and wrote down my message.  Ten minutes later I called again, they replied that they're aware of the situation, and my third call didn't bring a patrol car either.

Meanwhile the number of settlers increased (some of the passengers in the cars that were delayed joined the people blocking the road), as did the number of soldiers.  No attempt was made to use force.

After long discussions the people praying agreed to leave. (they had even brought an ambulance that waited on the side in the event of bloodshed).

Traffic began moving, and then it turned out that a settler who came from the direction of Huwwara was blocking an IDF tank transporter with his vehicle.  The traffic west again came to a stop.  Young settlers hurried over to support the lone hero, and the soldiers, of course, couldn't do anything about it.  The hostility between the two groups was both visible and audible.  Then the company commander (Zuckerman) arrived, gave the leader of the uproar a push and the traffic began moving.

We received no help from the Israeli police during this entire time.  One police car that came from the west bypassed the whole traffic jam by driving over the field that was once Huwwara South, towards the Madison route, without even stopping to see what was happening on the road.

8:30  Awarta:  Few cars

Earthworks underway opposite the entrance to Awarta, next to the army firing range.  Large mounds of earth being piled up.

8:35  Beit Furik. 
16 cars on line to enter the city, their number constantly increasing, few pedestrians.

One of the soldiers tries to tell us what the Palestinians did the night before to soldiers in Nablus, and then decides that its classified information.  When we got back to the computer it turned out that the IDF was operating in the city last night and a soldier had been wounded.

8:55  Back at Huwwara. 
The calm after the storm.  A fairly long line of cars leaving the city - certainly because of the delay earlier.  The dog handler showed up in the meantime.

A large garbage container near the checkpoint is overflowing, and the stench is strong.  Maybe it would be better for the head of the local council to devote his time to doing what he was elected to do, and take care of removing the garbage.

9:00  Burin-Yitzhar intersection:  A number of Israeli cars parked at the side of the road (planning the next roadblock?)

9:10  Tapuach/Za'tara intersection:  12 cars waiting from the west.