Translator: Charles K.
We tried again to go through the Tarqumiya crossing. There were no problems going in, of course. We’ll see what it’s like coming out.
Afternoon; many children coming home from school in Kiryat Arba and Hebron.
Many tourist buses at the Cave of the Patriarchs and next to ‘Abed’s shop.
The Nahal soldiers – the Shaham unit – behave like Nahal soldiers usually do, and we praised them for doing so.
A lone soldier at Tel Rumeida – he says it’s quiet, no problems. His company commander stopped his vehicle, which was full of soldiers; we had a pleasant conversation, each of us praising the other.
No one here – neither the soldiers nor the locals – expect any particular results from tomorrow’s UN vote and aren’t preparing for any special reactions here. In short – everything seems calm.
Again we’re stopped at the Tarqumiyya crossing when we return, asked for IDs and told to park on the side for vehicle inspection.
They also call Zion, the manager, who comes to talk to us. He claims that Machsom Watch provided the DCO with very inaccurate reports as regards the number of laborers crossing here every day; he wants to know what was the basis for the report. Everything’s counted on the computer, which has much larger numbers.
We got the impression that he was very dissatisfied; we couldn’t tell him who provided that report, nor when.
Does anyone know anything about it?
Translator: Charles K.
08:30 – 13:30
Overall there’s no military presence today and the occupation routine continues with all its might.
Four buses with relatives of prisoners are on their way out. The parking lot is full; many people are looking for Sylvia.
We went into a school in the Palestinian locality of Suosiya. They’d worked on the road which was now relatively easy to drive on. Autumn crocuses and new grass sprout – a festival for the sheep.
The teachers complain, justifiably, that every morning on their way to school from Yatta the soldiers (now reservists, apparently) come down and detain them. Each time they’re asked for their teaching certificates and are always yelled at. We’ll try to get there at around 07:30 to see. The principal was in Ramallah today; his replacement approached us with a girl who was afraid to look us in the eye. Her mother and father had been beaten by settlers!! No hug from another Israeli does any good in a situation like this.
We went to the village of Darat, a short distance beyond the garbage dump, before Zif junction. A magnificent house was demolished there yesterday that had been built six months ago. Other houses nearby had already received demolition orders in 2004 but nothing happened. There’s a kindergarten behind the demolished house. The whole village is in contact with an attorney from Bethlehem who’s dealing with these matters. The “logic” behind the demolition is that the buildings were on private property and hadn’t received permits because they weren’t included in the village “authorized outline plan”…but of course, the village doesn’t have an “authorized outline plan.” And does anyone really believe that if they’d asked for a permit they’d have received one? You can see the real reason at this link: http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/politics/1.1873365#.ULNHNXiSAS4.facebook
We met locals who told us a white jeep from the Civil Administration had come this morning and photographed all the buildings in the neighborhood.
We gave them our telephone numbers in case something else occurs, and drove on.
Children coming out of school… Again we see the wheelchairs of the girls from the Al-Fahiyya school and the teachers coming through the narrow opening at the Tarpa”t checkpoint… There’s nothing new under the sun, nor, except for a tour by supporters of the settlers, are there any tourists.
One’s heart aches
Translator: Charles K.
Sixth day of operation ” Pillar of Cloud”
I’m writing this report while the “Red Color” siren is sounding outside my home. I’m a disobedient citizen, remaining at the computer.
– No laborers are there by the time we cross, only a parking lot with fewer cars than usual. The Israeli south is inoperative… At least the Palestinian laborers have work – infrastructure work is underway to expand the merchandise area of the checkpoint.
It’s very, very quiet…
At the entrance to Kiryat Arba we’re met by a very pleasant reservist – the Nahal unit is gone along with its sign.
Hebron is as quiet as the BIG market in Beersheba.
People everywhere are in despair. The reservist tells us that stones are sometimes thrown along Highway 60. Hebron residents tell us there were disturbances yesterday at the police barrier – Tarpa”t checkpoint. A camera is the best weapon.
I give candy to Palestinian children…
At Dahariyya they tell us, “Insh’allah, peace will come.”
There's much more desperation today. Why doesn’t anyone say anything?
Translator: Charles K.
- All laborers have crossed and now await their employers. Though the Gaza operation is underway there’s no closure.
Direction south to north [Beersheba to Jerusalem]
There are no signs at most of the turnoffs to Palestinian localities giving the name of the locality.
Checkpoint is manned; there are no detainees.
The DCO office is located in the rear portion of the Judea Brigade headquarters. As civilians we are not allowed to enter so we can’t see how Palestinians are treated.
The road from Kiryat Arba to the Cave of the Patriarchs is closed to Palestinian vehicles; as a result we see dozens of pupils walking to school.
We conduct an educational conversation with Nahal soldiers at the Pharmacy checkpoint who would like Gaza destroyed.
Quiet despite, or because of, the fighting in Gaza.
No soldier in the booth at the Kiryat Arba junction.
We return via Highway 317, past Carmel, Ma’on, Avigail, Mitzpeh Ya’ir and Suosiya, where we see construction work underway, enlarging the settlement.
We weren’t asked to show IDs at the Meitar crossing on our way back.
Observers: Hagit B, Yehudit K (reporting), M. at the wheel
We set off at 7:30 am so that the Meitar checkpoint was quiet. On Route 60 an access road is being built to the settlement/outpost of Eshtamoa of the eastern ridge and there is the skeleton of a temporary structure just beside the new pathway. The rest of the road is as usual until we hit the Dura/El Fuwar crossroads where three soldiers are stopping cars at the entrance to Dura. And here we found just the tiniest crack in the wall of occupation, which is no longer an occupation but something more far reaching. The following is a full, but not literal, account of our encounter. But first, some information: in the West Bank there is a lively trade in Israeli vehicles, purchased (or stolen) for their spare parts. The army has a procedure of stopping all cars with Israeli licence plates that are driven by Palestinians. The rationale for this is that the Palestinian in the supposedly Israeli car can, despite his green ID and lack of permit, drive unchecked into Israel, this is of course nonsense since such a driver would be stopped, checked and returned from whence he came by the checkpoint personnel. While detained, the car's papers are checked to ensure that it is not stolen. One way and another, the Palestinians are detained, sometimes harrassed and their journey to the salvage yard and ready cash, delayed.
We were surprised to be greeted by the commander of the patrol at Dura, who readily gave us information: a patrol of reservists of the Kfir Unit and yes, this was policing, not soldiery but the job had to be done. Yes, he frequently thought about how the Palestinians must be feeling about their oppression, but he also thought a lot about the Israeli side, having attended so many funerals of friends killed in terror attacks (statistically more people are killed in road accidents or murdered by their spouses each year!) He didn't think there could be a simple solution to the conflict but as a religious man he believes in the Jewish right to all the land, even if this is not a rational belief. He suggested that Israel should declare sovereignty over "Judea and Samaria" (de facto, it has already) but the Palestinians should get a 'different kind of citizenship'. He admitted being uncomfortable with this but did not retract. The interesting thing about this encounter was that despite the fact that our soldier was juggling his radio equipment trying to speed up the check, he followed us around the checkpoint in order to continue the conversation, without paying any heed to passing cars nor to an accident further up the road that required three ambulances to evacuate the wounded. As we were leaving we agreed that there might be a point in some kind of dialogue between settlers and Leftwingers (although I doubt either side will change its views much) and also blurted out that on these patrols he only checked two cars, in order to put a 'v' beside his list of tasks. It was clear that hear was a thinking person, even if he couldn't take his doubts to a logical conclusion.
We proceeded to Hebron and visited the apartheid Worshipper's Alley at Wadi Nasarah where the route is marked out by soe hideously ugly planter, a broad road for the Jews and a rough path for the Palestinians. We visited the Daan family and were shown a hole in the garden wall where settlers throw rubbish, stones and sometimes shoot (?) and we also were shown the broken glass on one of the windows. A circuit of Hebron, including a stroll to the well (David's well?) proved once again: a dead city.
On the way back at the entrance to Dahariyeh another patrol of mliuimnikim (this time not forthcoming at all) had stopped a man who forget his ID. In spite of the fact that he lived close by, abd he was forced to send for a family ember to bring it. A car load of passengers was detained and thoroughly searched, including luggage, and one passenger apparently was suspected of something. Hagit gave her phone no as we could wait no longer to find out their fate.
Down here in the south it's never a dull moment!
...Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world..
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and every where
The ceremony of innocence is drowned.
The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity...
From Second Coming W B Yeats
Translator: Charles K.
Again we decided not to go through the Tarqumiyya crossing because of how we’re treated on our way back.
Southern Hebron Hills
Road repairs at the entrance to Asahael. The laborers are Palestinians, despite the fatwa forbidding them to work in the settlements and along the fence.
An armored police vehicle has stopped two settlers. We didn’t stop.
We drove through A-Tawwani and were very impressed by the village’s development – many buildings, attractively painted. We glimpsed Nasser next to his home.
Highway 317 is pretty empty. The olive harvest seems to have ended in most of the groves.
Kiryat Arba – There are still signs of life on Giv’at Avichai (a car, and other things…).
Beit Hameriva [house of contention] has been transformed into Beit Hashalom [house of peace]; at least, that’s what the sign now says.
In a number of locations in Hebron the entrances to houses are decorated with colorful slogans in honor of those returning from the Hajj to Mecca.
The roads near the Cave of the Patriarchs have been renewed and well-marked. It’s not clear who’s responsible. The Hebron municipality? Kiryat Arba? The Cave of the Patriarchs?
Many tourists at ‘Abed’s shop; he has no time to talk (just to offer tea/coffee and sell souvenirs…). We also managed a short visit with Azzam and to the grocery across the street.
We returned via Highway 60 which was pretty empty now as well. An observation balloon floats overhead.
The Meitar crossing is a pleasure compared to Tarqumiyya.
Translator: Charles K.
Southern Hebron Hills
We began on Highway 317 because we’d heard about demolitions in the Sussiya area. It turned out we didn’t have to go there so we drove to see what’s going on at Mitzpeh Avigail. We could already see from the road that the investment of Israel’s government in improving the entrance to the locality.
The cranes, trucks and laborers are Palestinian. The theater of the absurd at its best. The security coordinator doesn’t simply allow himself to transport building materials in his vehicle. The guard in the booth at the entrance is an IDF soldier. Expansion has begun.
As we left we saw shepherds from Al Mafkara, between Avigail and the southern part of Ma’on. They wanted to speak to us; we went down to them. They suffer continually from settlers and from the authorities who want to demolish where they live and expel them, claiming it’s a firing range. A riddle: why are they the only ones interfering with the IDF’s training?! Aren’t the Jewish localities also within range?
The locality, like others in the area, is comprised of dilapidated, heartbreaking structures and caves. Only the school and mosque are more substantial buildings, and they’re also slated for demolition. The school is for first and second graders who aren’t able to walk all the way to A-Tawwani.
We saw the demolition orders, whose implementation has been delayed for now. They don’t know for how long. They say attorneys are handling their case. We’ll follow up.
We drove to Hebron.
In the photo: Postal vehicle in Hebron. Only this kind of vehicle is allowed on the streets of H2
In Hebron the quiet chronicle of the occupation continues.
The concrete barriers surrounding Beit HaMeriva [house of contention] are being removed.
It appears that they’re beginning to remove signs of the military position that has been there till now, and are preparing to “recivilianize” the location. We’ll follow up here also.
The notorious revolving gate at Curve 160 has been removed. Should we be glad, or will they now upgrade the barrier with a dignified magnemometer booth? We’ll wait and see.
Many buses in the Cave of the Patriarchs parking lot, bringing pilgrims who appear to be from Africa.
On the portion of Shuhadeh Street near the Cave of the Patriarchs all the shuttered shop doors have been painted the same color, concealing most of the graffiti.
Translator: Charles K.
Southern Hebron Hills
We left at 10 AM.
The Meitar checkpoint is empty, except for trucks being inspected.
We drove along Route 317 in order to see how the Israeli settlement of Sussiya was expanding and the terrible situation of the original Palestinian Sussiya. We continued on a new road to A-Tawwani which crosses through the village and connects its two parts. It’s a great improvement, thanks to European funding and the organization of villages in the area, a welcome grassroots initiative.
We met with DOVE members in their office. They told us about themselves and about the organization. It’s interesting that they don’t lack for volunteers, usually young people, some of whom remain for periods of a year or more. They’re “recognized” by the Vatican but not funded by the Holy See. Activists staying for a year or more receive a salary; it’s not clear to us how the organization is funded. They told us that for now the army cooperates in escorting children to school and the trip is relatively peaceful.
We stopped at Nasser’s house next to the excavations, which have now stopped. He erected a pen for goats in the middle of the excavation (which annoyed me because the place is neglected and filthy, apparently on purpose). Nasser said that settlers show up from time to time. He still has no water line (as you remember, that’s how the business with the excavation began), but he has gotten an electric line from the Civil Administration. The village has become widely known; they enjoy international support. Nevertheless, they fear the planned expulsion of eight villages from the area will apply to them as well. The army fenced the village on the southeast in order to create a closed military area and also confiscated vehicles.
We walked down the worshippers route to look at the “temporary” barriers. We entered the Cave of the Patriarchs, which wasn’t any better than it had been when I visited last week, but was now filled with Israeli tourists, most of them secular, praying fervently, as well, of course, as the settlers who live in Hebron who were busy in various activities: prayer, study, eating cake (!) and PR groups. Gwen was pretty shocked. We then went down to the street to the sounds of the fireworks welcoming those returning from Mecca and an obligatory tour along Shuhadeh Street to Tel Rumeida – all the checkpoints were quiet, and next to the booth at Tel Rumeida we saw a heart-warming event: a soldier genially pulled to safety a two-year old child who’d wandered into the road.
When we reached the Meitar checkpoint Gwen’s passport was taken for inspection, ostensibly because “there was a problem with it.” She was very concerned, because a few of the volunteers on her project had been expelled from the country, and one hadn’t even been allowed to enter the Jewish State. Gwen felt there was a growing tendency to isolate international activists; she herself had been repeatedly delayed entering Israel. Thanks to our acquaintance with Motti, the checkpoint manager, we went through after a delay of only 30-45 minutes. To M’s (justified) annoyance, they unloaded his vehicle while we were waiting and even put the license plate through the scanner. Considering that we’re talking about a tourist accompanied by two Israelis, the behavior was completely illogical, but that’s the situation. Gwen was very impressed by Machsom Watch’s efficiency!
The Bedouin village of Al-Araqib
From there to Al-Araqib, where we were received warmly; they told Gwen of their many hardships. During our activities in opposition to the occupation we tend to forget the discrimination and dispossession suffered by the Palestinian citizens of Israel, part of the same racist phenomenon, lust for land and being drunk with power that goes far beyond “occupation.”
Muhammad played a very important role in making today a success – far more than simply driving safely and well. He’s a full partner!
.Trans. by Naomi S.
We drove to Hebron along Route 317 and 356. We wanted to see the olive harvest, hoping it was proceeding quietly and uninterrupted.
The harvest seemed wonderfully pleasant. In every olive grove, large plastic covers laid on the ground and the people could be seen among the trees, working, cutting, eating, and drinking, notwithstanding the neighboring settlers from Sousiya and Ma'on Carmel.
For a moment, one could imagine that life in this area were normal.
But only for a moment – because suddenly, next to the outpost overlooking the road leading to Massafer Yata, a few soldiers from the Shimshon Brigade came down. They detained cars, conducted searches, and examined cars with yellow registration plaques [Israeli]/
While we were there, we could see how a Palestinian driver was made to take off a yellow plaque. And then another, and another…
That's it. We were reminded where we are.
Photos 2847, 2848: taken next to the outpost, in the middle of nowhere.
Phots 2853: A new, fresh graffiti of "Na, Nach, Nachman, from Uman
In Hebron, it is quiet. The last day of Id-Al-Adha, all are on holiday, nicely dressed.
And yet, next to the Gross Square, uphill on the blocked alley leading to Abu S'ninah neighborhood, we notice soldiers patrolling. We walk up to them.
"What's this, in the middle of a holiday, soldiers in H1 area (Palestinian controlled)?
A polite and pleasant sergeant approaches and asks that we leave the area. Why? We enquire. "Because I am responsible for your safety", he replies. What are they doing there, we ask, and he replies that he can't tell us. "It is holiday today" we remind him. "I know. Precisely therefore"[?], he says.
Not a dull moment in Hebron.
Trans. by Naomi S.
Once again, we preferred crossing through Meytar over Taquomiya
South Mount Hebron
Along the entire road – Route 60 and more generally – there wasn't much traffic: relative quiet.
Next to Dura Elfawwar there's a new camera. The olive-harvest is in its midst, olive groves and vineyards are clean and well-kept.
Around Sousiya – Kefir soldiers detained a vehicle with some people in it. Following a check-up, they were allowed to go on their way.
At the south exit from Kiryat Arba, a military vehicle stands solitary. Immediately next to it – a police vehicle conducts "winter-preparedness" checks to Palestinian vehicles. At the top of Avihai Hill a vehicle and some building remnants can still be seen.
Beit ha'Meriva (the house of disputation) is surrounded by wires and fences, but the Israeli flag still blows on top.
At Abed's – various tourist groups, one of them guided by Hagit Ofran (Peace Now).
Beit Hamichpala – flags, no soldiers.
In a few days, it is Id-Al-Adha which is perhaps why so many children can be seen everywhere. In the Zip grocery store, there was still olive oil.