Jerusalem24– The residents of Huwara village south of Nablus in the West Bank have been witnessing a wave of settler violence for the second week in a row.
On Saturday night, prior to the Israeli Flag March in Jerusalem on Sunday, settlers demonstrated with Israeli flags in Huwara for three hours under the protection of Israeli occupation forces. They attacked people and property, including shops and homes, and took down the Palestinian flag with the help of Israeli soldiers.
Wajeeh Odeh, a member of Huwara municipality, tells Jerusalem24 this was not the first time this had happened. “This has been happening since 1987 since the first uprising [First Intifada], and in 2000 when the second uprising started when the occupation imposed a long curfew on Huwara and established barriers on Palestinian streets and roads that link different towns. Now, they closed down eight different roads on the eastern and western sides of Hawara which lead to other towns, punishing the Palestinians and causing them difficulties reaching their homes.”
Odeh explains that the Israeli authorities are collectively punishing anyone who passes through Huwara, since it’s located on the main road between Nablus and Ramallah.
“The Israeli settlers and army converted the confrontations between them and Palestinians into a conflict over the flags,” says Odeh. “The Palestinian flag means a whole lot to us, and we cannot retreat against the Israeli aggression against us.”
Odeh believes that the Israeli government is weak and divided and is a step away from collapsing. “That’s why they export their weakness to the Palestinian people. They’re escalating the situation and attacking Palestinians in Al-Aqsa Mosque and Huwara and different parts of the West Bank because they’re weak. The problem for them is the flag which is an important symbol for Palestinians”.
Odeh explains that during his time as the head of Huwara municipality between 2000 and 2005, residents went through a critical time when the Israeli occupation closed the town for 42 days, only allowing the citizens to go out to buy essentials and medicine for a period of two hours during the day.
“Now there are about thousands [of stores] in Huwara,” says Odeh, “so the economy is improving, the number of citizens is up – so people can confront the Israeli occupation and can stand against its aggression”.
Listen to the full interview on this episode of Vibes.