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Huwwara: A Settler Night Visit

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Shortly before 11 p.m. MPTers were phoned by their Palestinian contact, Zakiraya, who told them that a Huwwara resident driving down the main highway had noticed that a group of settlers had entered Huwwara near the mosque. Three MPT members walked the short distance from their house down to the main street and toward the mosque. When they approached the Mosque, they noticed nearly a dozen settlers sitting about 200 feet from the Mosque. They were presumably from the illegal settlement of Yizhar. The settlers appeared to be praying. MPT made their presence known by filming the street. More settlers arrived in a car and some left as though they were taking shifts.

A picture of the mosque during the daytime

Zakiraya called the team members and informed them that the DCO (District Commanding Officer) had been notified and said he would come to the scene. Team members were then asked to document in case violence occurred as well as maintain their presence, to deter the settlers from using violence.

About fifteen minutes later an army jeep arrived with soldiers, shortly followed by two more jeeps. The soldiers and settlers walked around the corner of a nearby building almost out of site of the MPT members. The soldiers stayed with the settlers for another 15 minutes and then both parties left. Before the soldiers left, they walked up to the three MPTers and asked in a joking manner if “everything was cool”.

MPT was at the scene for about an hour total. While they were waiting for the army to arrive, a Palestinian husband and wife whose home MPT was standing near approached them. The couple invited MPTers in for coffee, but the team members explained that they were working. Although MPTers tried to explain to both the man and woman that they were monitoring settler presence on the road, the woman did not understand as she only spoke Arabic and the team members only spoke English. When the woman finally looked to her left, she pointed fearfully and exclaimed to her husband, “mustutaniin,” the Arabic word for “settlers”.

Zakiraya, MPT’s Palestinian contact, told the team members that it is extremely unusual for settlers to come into the town of Huwwara in this manner.

A map of the area: Huwwara is in the south. The Yitzhar settlement is just to the northeast. (Courtesy of www.poica.org).

They do use the main highway that passes through the town, but they do not walk or sit. As relayed in previous reports, the Palestinians in the villages surrounding Yizhar settlement have experienced a large amount of violence from settlers in this area. Due to this, they are concerned when settlers come into their village. Additionally, the fact that the settlers were praying near the mosque at a time when evening prayers had just finished and villagers were likely to be making their way home, seemed to be a statement of some kind.

Three short video clips of the settlers.


Nicole said...

Great posts guys- very informative and good job being clear, concise and otherwise 'journalistic' for the most part!

Michigan Peace Team said...

You guys rock! I love that just the fact that you're visibly taping the area can act as a deterrent! Well done - - the epitome of nonviolent intervention. :-)
- Mary