Why does this name strike terror into the hearts of Palestinian parents in the West Bank?
There's a road in the West Bank called highway 55. Depending on your point of view, it's the road connecting Qalqilya to Shechem...or Kefar Sava to Eilon Moreh. In any event, it's a primary traffic artery in the Shomron.
Highway 55 used to go through Arab cities and villages...Qalqilya, Nabi Alias, Azzoun, Jinsafut, Al Funduq, Jeet, Shechem...but because those places became rather inhospitable to Jewish vehicles, bypass roads were built and the road 55 of today is radically different than it was 15 years ago.
While highway 55 doesn't go through Azzoun anymore, it still bypasses Azzoun to about 100 meters in certain places -- and that's when the trouble starts. Over the past few weeks, dozens of Jewish cars have been stoned and firebombed by Palestinian teenagers from Azzoun. In addition to smashed windshields, windows and bodywork dents -- Jewish drivers and passengers were hurt as well.
Frustrated by the IDF's inability to keep this main highway safe and secure, settlers demonstrated on the road in front of Azzoun 2 weeks ago...yet it's only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt or killed (Ofra Moses was killed by a Palestinian firebomb on road 55 about 20 years ago). The settler retaliation is bound to happen as well.
However, not everyone in the IDF was content with its less than effective response, and one day these leaflets appeared in Arabic all over Azzoun...
YNET translated this leaflet as follows:
"We demand that the residents of Azun stop hurling stones and Molotov cocktails, and if you don't stop, we [the IDF] will enter the village, start firing at the residents and close down the businesses. This is our decision, and if you don’t stop the riots you will bear the responsibility," the leaflets read. They were signed by "Captain Joe".
In the pamphlets, the residents were demanded to watch the village's children, who have a habit of throwing stones at IDF soldiers operating in the area.
What doesn't appear in the English YNET story is the reactions of the Palestinians. For that, you need the Hebrew version of YNET. (Don't worry, I'll translate it beneath the Hebrew)
A day after the leaflets were hung up in the village, some of the residents of Azzoun said they were worried that this represented the true intention of the [IDF] soldiers. "Who will promise us tomorrow that there won't be crazy shooting at [Azzoun's] residents, because the soldiers can always claim there were rocks thrown at them," said a local Azzoun "activist." According to him [the unnamed activist], no one has complete control over the teenagers and "the soldiers aren't angels, and most of them antagonize the [Azzoun] residents -- specifically children." Another [unnamed resident] added that from now on the parents will be scared from sending their children to school: "I am worried the army will carry out their threat. If they catch someone, then punish him and arrest him, but why punish innocents?" I'm worried that soldiers want this to happen and will hurt the residents to teach the children a lesson. Children are children, and soldiers are supposed to be more responsible."
Driving past Azzoun almost daily, I can personally vouch that the IDF soldiers have no intention of going into Azzoun. They don't want to go in there...don't want to deal with the rock or firebomb throwers. They don't harass Palestinian children -- they are hardly ever in Azzoun to begin with!
And yet..."Captain Joe" (now in big trouble with the IDF for his unauthorized leaflets) managed to scare some of the residents? The IDF is unable to keep the road safe, and yet "Captain Joe" has put fear into the hearts of the rock throwers? And their parents?
YNET has continued reporting on Captain Joe:
West Bank settlers have had enough of the stones hurled at their cars. Dozens of Israeli vehicles arrived Sunday morning at the entrance to the village of Azun, east of Qalqilaya, in protest of the hurling of stone and Molotov cocktails at Israeli cars traveling in the West Bank.
The organizers of the demonstration, which was authorized by the police, protested against the security forces' helplessness in their battle against the stone throwers.
The demonstrators did not enter the village, but parked their cars at the roadside and made an appearance. Military forces secured the demonstration, which ended an hour later with no unusual incidents.
The settlers told the assistant commander of the district's brigade that if the stone throwing continued, they would block the road every morning.
Two Israelis were lightly injured Saturday by stones hurled at the car they were traveling in. One of the injured, a 15-year-old boy, managed to reach him home in the settlement of Karnei Shmoron and was evacuated from there to the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba by a Magen David Adom crew.
Another Israeli was lightly wounded on Friday after a Molotov cocktail hit his car.
Following the stone throwing Saturday, Palestinians reported that a large IDF force had raided the village of Azun and searched its houses.
According to the Palestinians, the officer who led the force into the village was none other than "Captain Joe", who had hung leaflets in the village about a week ago, threatening to fire at the residents if they continue throwing stones.
The following is dedicated by Lurker to Captain Joe...
(to the tune of Billy Joel’s Captain Jack, of course)
Saturday night and you're still hangin' around
Tired of living in your one mosque town
you'd like to find a few rocks on the ground
So you run out with your keffiyah and your gasoline
And you hang out on the Fatah or the Hamas scene
Soon you're stoning Jews, just like the old routine
And you smile
But Captain Joe will get you shot tonight
And send you to Shuhada island
Captain Joe will see you rot tonight
And to your virgins, you'll be flyin'
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