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Awarta faces second wave of curfew and military harassment

According to Awarta residents, the Israeli army entered the village again at 3 am on Thuesday 22nd of March laying down a curfew for the second time this month. The previous week Awarta, south of Nablus, had been put under curfew for five days by the Israeli military.

Once again houses were searched, leaving a trail of homes suffering from property damage and reactivating traumas from the previous military attacks on 12-16th of March. ISM activists present in Awarta on Monday during the curfew reported that computers and mobile phones had been confiscated and money stolen by Israeli soldiers. The activists witnessed how soliders entered families’ homes, arrested young men and left the homes completely wrecked from the inside.
At least nine men were arrested yesterday, one of them a 22 year old man who was removed from his family’s home, handcuffed, blindfolded and taken away to an unknown location in front of watching activists.

A youth center lost their computer access when soldiers stole the hard drives of seven computers. A computer shop was also completely wrecked when soldiers broke the door taking several hard drives and breaking laptops.

Familes were also left without enough drinking water when it ws tipped out by soldiers, and they were not allowed to leave their homes to fetch water from neighbours. When ISM activists demanded a reply from soldiers at Odala checkpoint they were told to encourage the familys to contact soldiers in the village although the curfew was still in effect. According to the same soldiers in charge of Odala checkpoint the curfew would be over at 6 pm the same day, 5 hours after the need for drinkingwater was critical.

At around 8 pm the soldiers left the village and the curfew was lifted, although the villagers are concerned that they will come back again.

Proof that any Awarta resident is involved in the murder of the Fogel family in the nearby illegal settlement of Itamar on 11th March has yet to be made public. ISM activists present in Awarta during the first five days of curfew claim that the last weeks military operations are a clear case of collective punishment on Palestinian civil society and are not connected to investigating the Fogel murders.

Director of programming at The Voice of Palestine Radio was arrested by Israeli military together with his sons aged 17 and 16. The arrest has been condemed by the Palestinian journalist syndicate according to Ma┬┤an news agency.

According to the village council, eleven of the men that were arrested last week have been released, while nine were arrested yesterday. About 40 men from Awarta are in Israeli custody at the moment, some of them at the military base in Huwara, while some have been taken to an interegation prison in Israel. Their families have not been told where their fathers, sons or brothers have been taken, about their condition or when, or if they will be released.

On the 15th of march, during the five day curfew of Awarta, settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Itamar started building a new outpost on private land own by the villagers of Awarta. At the scene, on a hill in the valley between Itamar and Awarta, one can see settlers operating bulldozers under the protection of the Israeli military.