Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
'Anata-Shu'afat, Ar-Ram, Hizma, Jaba (Lil), Qalandiya, Tue 13.3.12, Afternoon
A checkpoint at the north-eastern entrance to the Jerusalem area which was annexed in 1967, at Pisgat Zeev. Passage is allowed to bearers of blue IDs only. Open 24 hours a day.
Our intention was to ‘inspect’ the subterranean (life-fabric) road for Palestinians and turn off at Semiramis before Ramalla to get there. However there was such a long line just to cross the Qalandiya checkpoint despite the fact that no one was stopped or checked, but only because of the bottle neck created by the roundabout beyond the checkpoint that we turned right instead and drove towards Adam. A market has developed around the second roundabout before the Lil checkpoint, which was not manned in our direction. A huge arch has been built at the entrance to Ar-Ram where many taxis were waiting. We wanted to have a look at Adam, but from our direction that was impossible, the lane from this “Palestinian” road is blocked to anyone wanting to enter the settlement and the only way was to turn right beyond Jaba. The road was still extremely busy. The underpass to Jaba is now completely closed off by rubble and not even a small child can pass. The amount of traffic eased and we turned left into the village of Hizme and avoided the line to enter Pisgat Zeev. We continued along some Bedouin encampments just around a huge quarry. From the distance we spotted the new Police headquarters on top of the mountain in Area E-1. At the turn-off towards Jerusalem is a new traffic light. After the a-Zaim checkpoint we continued to the right where a lot of construction is still taking place along the road. We turned to see what is happening to the circular road under the Border Police base and DCL offices, but it is still closed off. At Anata we parked in the parking lot and walked into the village along the pedestrian entrance. Quite a number of cars were entering at the end of the work-day and beyond the checkpoint a bottleneck was forming, since unlike on the “Jewish” side the roads have not been widened and there is no roundabout. Towards the wall where the old checkpoint used to be the market is flourishing and proper stalls are being constructed with stone walls and proper roofs – a great improvement for the salesmen, but the lack of parking and infrastructure will remain problematic. Here too the huge buildings built without permits very close together are becoming instant slums. An acquaintance told us that he is moving out to the Qalandiya refugee camp with his family. This means crossing into Jerusalem through the Qalandiya checkpoint each morning to get to work, but it is preferable to exposing his children to the rampant crime and the drug dealers all over. In the Qalandiya refugee camp the law is enforced by the Palestinian police, whereas here there is no police whatsoever.
The entrance to the checkpoint on the way back looks so much less inviting than from the other side. We counted five turnstiles one has to pass in addition to showing the Id. Quite a hassle taking into account that this checkpoint is for Jerusalemites only. When we stopped to watch the traffic enter Jerusalem we were first told by a girl soldier that we were ‘disturbing’, but then some more soldiers came over and a security guard who explained to the girl who we were. They asked us what we had done in the ‘camp’.