Hawarra checkpoint, Nablus
Sunday 16th, September 2007
During the holy month of Ramadan, when Palestinians are fasting, the Israeli army decided to close Hawarra checkpoint in Nablus. At 11am two international Human Rights Workers (HRWs) tried to leave Nablus through the Hawarra checkpoint, and found crowds of people held waiting to get home.
The Palestinians waited peacefully hoping that the checkpoint would be opened soon. As they waited the soldiers got more aggressive towards the Palestinians, who were stuck with no where to go. HRWs tried to film the situation but were met with hostility, one soldier said, “you want me to shoot them?”
The Palestinians were repeatedly harassed by the army, with one soldier threatening to throw a grenade into the crowed as if it was a baseball. HRWs were then chased from the checkpoint and the commander tried to steal the camera from them. Luckily, with some quick thinking and some quick running the camera was smuggled to safety.
Once the soldiers saw they had no chance to retrieve the camera they became very aggressive, saying to one activist, “Now I am going to kill your friend!” Then he ran after the other activist that fled with the camera. In the end no one was hurt and both HRWs escaped, but it must be remembered that earlier that day another Palestinian in Nablus was no so lucky.
The closing of checkpoints throughout the West Bank during Ramadan is just another assault on Muslim Palestinians and Palestinian culture. The Israeli government claimed earlier that they would ease restrictions on Muslims over the age of 50 for journeys throughout the West Bank and into Jerusalem during Ramadan. This is not only proved false by the long waits at checkpoints, but more famously when Mustapha Barghouthi was denied entry four times while trying to reach the Al-Aqsa mosque last Friday.