Beit Furik, Huwwara, Za'tara (Tapuah), Sat 14.2.09, Afternoon

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Tamar G., Aya K., Vivi T.(reporting)
Seriously? Does this make us safer?

Translator:  Charles K.

Taxis fill the parking lot, owners of stands sell drinks and candy, taking advantage of the fact that for the time being the soldiers aren't chasing them away.  People sometimes wait a long time for the taxi to fill up and leave, giving us an opportunity for many discussions.

People stand waiting between fences and in front of the turnstiles for the order to proceed to the turnstile and have their persons, belongings and documents inspected.  People are classified by sex and age, or, as Rikki wrote in her report from 11 February, the special ones and the ordinary ones.  The young men wait a long time and receive most of the insults and humiliation from the female soldiers secure in their fortified booths. Today they're not the only ones.  The female soldier moving the line for women and older men forward doesn't stop yelling at them, roaring orders - "Arja lu'ara - Move back - and if they don't obey she stops the inspection.  In fact, she's just stopped.  One dares to reply that there's no room to move back, and she yells "Shut up, or maybe you'd rather go to the end of the line."  A murmer of protest is heard from everyone waiting, and then the commander intervenes and also tells him to shut up.  It's like that all the time.

Sometimes it's hard to hear what's happening, separated by the double fences and the dead zones between them.

That morning I read on "Wafa" and "Ma'an," the Palestinian web sites, that Palestinians from Israel will be permitted to go to and from Nablus on foot and in an Israeli vehicle starting today, Saturday, 14.2.  We try to find out from the soldiers at the vehicle lane whether we can go through.  They don't know, and the following conversations develops with the commander:

--It's just for Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

--How about Palestinians from Haifa?

--There's no such thing as a Palestinian from Haifa; they're Arabs, and they're not allowed.

We leave for Beit Furik, where one of the soldiers at the checkpoint tells us that everyone can enter and leave Nablus freely, and cars with yellow license plates pass through in both directions after a quick glance into the front seat.

At the Huwwara checkpoint we tried to follow up the story of Mahmud Awwad, who was severely beaten there.  He was attacked from behind when the soldier (Yitzhak) simply shattered his skull with the butt of an M-16.  Mahmud's brother, Na'im, has worked at the checkpoint for years as a taxi dispatcher.  We asked to meet nearby with Mahmud and members of his family.

Mahmud's has a serious brain injury.  His life was saved thanks to the quick thinking of his two brothers who were at the checkpoint,picked him off the ground and quickly drove him to Nablus where he underwent a complex operation.  The incident was reported in Dvorah Oreg's report that day, and in Aya's report from Saturday, 31.1.  A little appeared in the press, and B'Tselem is in contact with the family.  Today we also met him.  He's in considerable pain, he's out of the coma, is walking, but his mental and physical functioning are impaired and he needs intensive rehabilitation that, for now, he'll receive in Ramallah.  His family doesn't leave his side, and one of his brothers or adult nephews accompanies his every step.  An impressive grief-stricken, concerned family.  I'm just reporting a small portion of the story; Aya will write a full report, with photographs.

I, personally, hope that some of those people who don't think Palestinians are human will read the report, that something in him will change.  Meeting the family provides some small hope for a future that won't be as dark.

Next to the army base at Huwwara there are excavations and mounds of earth.  There are rumors of a sunken road parallel to the Madison Route.

Returning from Beit Furik we see a military vehicle that caught two Palestinian cars that drove on the prohibited route.  We didn't stop; we saw packages being removed from them.

Along Route 60 - A long line of cars at Za'tara, going south.

The entrance to Turmus ‘Ay, whose Palestinian residents are wealthier, has been renovated.  A well-marked road has been paved with rows of palm trees on both sides.

A barrier that's never been removed blocks the exit from Sinjil, south of the settlement of Ofra.