Huwwara is a Palestinian town located south of the city of Nablus. It has a strategic location being the link between the cities of the northern and central occupied West Bank.
The main street of the town remains active around the clock and is rarely empty. Shops are spread on both sides of it, providing a living for the residents of the town and the neighboring villages.
The town, however, faces serious problems.
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Jewish settlers usually pass through the main street of Huwwara to reach the illegal settlements established on Palestinian lands. In their passage, they usually attack Palestinian residents, often while protected by Israeli soldiers.
Due to the constant presence of Israeli occupation forces, the residents of Huwwara are constantly on edge.
A Bloody Night
On February 26, hundreds of Jewish settlers poured into the town of Huwwara and started torching Palestinian houses, shops, and vehicles. It was a horrific scene.
The brutal attack came hours after two illegal settlers had been killed by Palestinian fighters while they were passing through the main street.
The truth, however, is that settler attacks have been taking place routinely and for years, without any apparent reason.
Abdullah Odeh, a resident of the town, was at home with his family when the settlers began to gather around his neighbor’s shop.
“We heard voices and shouts in Hebrew, so we quickly closed the windows, fearing that they (the settlers) would attack our house, but their target was my neighbor’s shop,” Odeh told The Palestine Chronicle.
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“They began to break down the shop’s door and set it on fire until it turned completely black… We tried to put out the fire, but it was huge and there was no point in trying,” Odeh added.
As Odeh made his way home, the Israeli soldiers began throwing gas bombs at the Palestinian residents of the town, leading to cases of suffocation among his family members.
On that same night, dozens of attacks were recorded in Huwwara, which led to the killing of Palestinian and injuring over one hundred others.
To make matters worse, the Israeli soldiers prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded.
The residents of Huwwara live in constant distress and fear as a result of the continuous attacks by Jewish settlers and the closure of the surrounding Israeli military checkpoints.
Many Palestinians can only leave the town using alternative dirt roads. Some internal roads are blocked as well, making it very difficult for the residents who work outside of Huwwara.
Israeli occupation forces regularly issue closure orders against Palestinian shops in Huwwara under the pretext of ‘security’. They claim that these measures are necessary to protect the illegal Jewish settlers, even though, in actuality, they are the ones who regularly attack Palestinian properties.
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Samer Awad owns a bookstore on the main street of Huwwara. Like dozens of shop owners, he suffered heavy losses as a result of the closures.
“We had to close our shop for more than two weeks. The (Israeli) soldiers do not just issue the order, they also break the doors and windows until the shop is closed in front of them,” Awad told The Palestine Chronicle.
Awad’s small store also provides customer services to obtain travel documents and visas. Since embassies and consulates set appointments on very specific dates, during the closure, Samer was forced to complete the transactions from home, “smuggling” the necessary paperwork from his own shop to avoid unnecessary delays.
However, the most affected businesses were the restaurants and the sweets shops for which Huwwara is famous. Due to the prolonged closure, the owners were forced to throw away their expired goods. This resulted in losses estimated at tens of thousands of dollars.
Aman Ali has owned a restaurant on the town’s main street for ten years. He tells us that this Ramadan in Huwwara was “dead”, due to Israeli military closures.
“I have incurred huge losses since the beginning of March, due to the closure and to the fact that we were forced to throw our food away,” Ali added.
The people of Huwwara describe themselves as prisoners in their own town, not knowing when the next closure will be imposed on them or when the settlers will attack again.
Nevertheless, they try to live day by day, hoping that, one day, the Israeli occupation will end.
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