... No University, no work...
6:40 Sheikh Saed
A pleasant morning, very little traffic.
The checkpoint commander recognizes me: "you're ....'s mother", they were at school together. The guard knows another friend of my son's, and both are eager to listen to us and understand what brings us to their checkpoint.
In the lot above there is no demand for taxis, and the young drivers complain that when the university is on vacation their livelihood suffers. They are bored and frustrated, incarcerated in their small community beyond which they are not permitted to travel.
An old man wants to leave. The commander explains, apologetically, that the man comes to the checkpoint every day but has no permit of any kind. We speak of the dire results of occupation, of the injustice of dispossession, and the lack of reasonable living conditions. But who speaks of the human aspect of the individual, the personal plight of an old man who feels the urge to go beyond the narrow confines alloted him, and doesn't stop trying day after day.
Digging and massive construction of a very high fence is in progress on the American route, near the turning to Silwan. It's almost impossible to negotiate the narrow road remaining. The workmen say this is the work of the Gihon Company, but they don't know its purpose. Phone calls to the company and the municipality did not produce precise information.
8:30 Olive Terminal
The checkpoint is empty. As in Sheikh Saed, the taxi drivers remain unemployed. One of them explains: No univerisity - no work.
The vacation will be over next week.
They say that three weeks ago the pressure here was enormous.
I remember that 3 weeks ago I was at the Kalandia checkpoint and crossing took three hours and more. It appears that many workmen gave up on Kalandia, travelled by taxi via Ma'aleh Adumim and Al Ezariya to the Olive Terminal, bringing with them the pressure from which they had tried to flee. It's unclear whether the additional effort and expenditure got them to their workplace on time.
At the entrance to the third corridor, that of the DCO, there is large sign:
DCO hours for the public:
Sunday to Thursday 8:30-12:00, 13:00-16:00
But at 8:40 the DCO is still closed. One phone call, and the corridor came to life.
9:10 Wadi Nar
A FEDEX vehicle is stuck on the side road leading to Wadi Nar, with two other vehicles, one damaged: a traffic accident.
It's odd to see FEDEX in this god-forsaken spot, with parcels scattered in the heart of a wasteland. A young man was busy taking pictures. 45 minutes later, on our return, little had changed in the scene of the accident.
At Wadi Nar checkpoint, traffic is busy but flowing. From time to time papers of vehicles going to Bethlehem are checked.
A border policeman comes up to ask about us. A lively conversation reveals a facet of the new Israeli, an immigrant trying to make his way in a dangerous job, against the odds of discrimination and other difficulties, in order to ensure that his children will be equals in their new land. He works hard in order to send his children to good schools which are expensive. He has mastered the Israeli code for success, and plans the future of his children with an emphasis on education, values, respect for parents, diligence and loyalty.