We received a call that soldiers had occupied the roof of a home in Huwarra. We rushed down, after finding out what the residents of the house wanted us to do, we went up the stairs and tried to talk to the soldiers through the closed door. They would not talk so we decided to stay there. The family brought up chairs for us and started to prepare us tea. Before the tea was even warm the soldiers barged off the roof, pushing by us silently and left the house. The residents were so grateful we felt compelled to stay for the tea even though we were on a tight schedule. Also wanted to give us some wonderful roles with spinach in side and cookies.
There had been a knock the door, when the lady of the house answered the soldiers, rifles ready, pushed their way in, went up the stairs and occupied their roof.
The soldiers had been on the roof about an hour when we arrived.
We counted 9 residents in house three were small children one appeared distraught and handicapped
What we did:
We talked with the residents of the house to see what they wanted us to do. We went up to the top of the stairs where there was a metal door which opened on to the roof and the door was slightly ajar. (By ajar I mean it was just open enough I could see the barrel of an M4 through the slot. It was not raised and pointed at me, it was at say a 45 degree angle so I could see the flash suppressor at the end and look up the barrel a little way, not as far as the breech, until it disappeared in the darkness.) We all had HiVis vests on. This was at 6:15pm. We tried to engage them in a conversation which went about like this:
Elfie: We are international observers and would like to talk to you.
The door closed more. (Which posed the temptation to simply slide the bolts shut and leave them on the roof. While it leaves one wondering why they would expose themselves to that it would obviously have been and escalation.)
Elfie: We are international observers and would like to talk to them about why you are on this families roof.
Elfie: Is there an English speaker who can talk to us about why you are on this families roof?
From the other side of the door We don't speak English.
Elfie: We would be happy to talk with one of your commanders who does speak English about this. Silence.
Elfie: We would be happy to talk to one of your commanders who speaks English about why you are on this families roof.
The family brought us up chairs and asked if we would like coffee or tea. We chose tea and sat down. My chair was in the middle of the door way, back to and touching the door. Elfie was to my right at the side of the door way. We chatted a bit waiting for the tea. The door opened and unannounced a soldier pushed his way out. It was actually a bit of a squeeze between my chair and Elfie's and we did not move our chairs as they came out. They pushed through in a rush, with a little stumbling. This was at 6:24PM. They all had their masks pulled up, didn't say a word, didn't look left or right. With weapons (they only had M4s) at ready they were leaning forward and just looked ahead at the stairs which were about 8 feet from the door. Six came out. The next to last one fell on the stairs. They went down the stairs, directly out the front door and, off into the night.
|The room the soldiers just barged through to get on the roof - one wonders how the child felt|
|The door to the roof with soldiers on the other side as we bagan to setup chairs|