Translated by Naomi S.
the last workers are leaving the parking lot, on their way to work. The Palestinian end is empty.
One bus with prisoners' families is waiting on the Israeli end, while the families are waiting in the shade to be checked.
Empty and quiet, in the fields the harvest is finished and the yield is being gathered.
Children are on holiday, so the side road is empty too.
Empty and quiet, no international volunteers to be seen at checkpoints and only one vehicle with UN observers is parked next to the TARPAT checkpoint.
At the beginning of the slope of the Shouhada st., on the war of the cemetery, we found a new signpost announcing a biblical route.
The markings of the route are done (without permission!) with the familiar markings of the Cross-Israel route. Chutzpeh!
On our way back, no special events noted either.
We recommend commencing summer shifts later in the day, perhaps even in the afternoon. Our devoted driver says we may then see something.
Translator: Charles K.
The report was written by Ofra – today a guest who used to be active in Machsom Watch and hasn’t been in the Southern Hebron Hills for almost three years.
Meitar crossing – Sansana
07:30 Heavy traffic of trucks and people. Everything seems to be ok. Many come to the checkpoint in vehicles; the parking area is crowded (which is usually a sign of improved economic conditions); no delays or detainees. Many laborers prefer to cross here rather than at Tarqumiyya because it’s “friendly.”
Southern Hebron Hills
Yesterday two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. During our shift we tried to clear up some questions arising from the reports in Israeli media:
The incident occurred near an army pillbox (the tallest one in the southern Hebron hills) – how is it that the soldiers weren’t involved at all and didn’t do anything?
Why would three Palestinians order a tow truck from the Ashqelon/Ashdod area (that’s how the driver explained what he was doing there)?
The Palestinian version differs from what the Israeli media reported. While in Israel the driver is viewed as a hero who succeeded in overcoming two terrorists who’d set an ambush for him, the Palestinians say that they were partners in shady business deals involving auto theft. The three Palestinians and the Israeli arranged to meet; they had an argument over money that led to the violence and the murder.
all the structures and tents were issued demolition orders. Solidarity groups plan a vigil and demonstration Friday, 22 June, in support of the villagers. Everyone is invited to participate. Transportation is available from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Trees have been planted along Highway 60. The plastic sleeves protecting the trees remind us of the JNF, but we’re not sure who did the work.
Almost no one on the streets in Hebron. It’s very hot. A few children carry pails on their way to the food distribution point. Many soldiers; our impression is that units in the area are being relieved. Usually that involves a number of unsettled days, shows of strength by the new soldiers and commanders for whom it’s important to show who’s in charge of the neighborhood.
What was most noticeable to me, someone who hasn’t been here for a long time, was the obvious difference between the accelerated development of the Jewish settlements and the stagnation and neglect on the Palestinian side.
There’s at least one new neighborhood in every settlement (Ma’on, Carmel, Sussya, Asa’el, Mitzpeh Ya’ir), the roads have been repaved, streetlights installed, new trailers, plantings and large signs advertising summer camps, pools and Jewish sovereignty.
In the Palestinian localities, everything is still the same, completely static. The area looks as though the authorities have utterly forgotten it. That’s extremely depressing.
Translator: Charles K.
At 7 AM there was still a line of laborers and a line of people going to visit relatives in Israeli prisons. There weren’t any significant delays.
We saw people detained by the Border Police at the checkpoints in front of the police station and at the Cave of the Patriarchs. They were detained for long periods, up to 30 minutes. At the police station checkpoint there were ISM observes who told us that during the past two weeks Border Police soldiers had beaten youths.
For 30 minutes we observed detainees at the checkpoint in front of the Cave of the Patriarchs. One youth was required to give his cell phone to the Border Police soldier. The soldier apparently checked the recent calls and the names that appeared, and the youth had to call his brother who came and was also checked. Then the youth had to fill out a form and received a summons for interrogation. The purpose of all that may have been to impress Ofer (active, notoriously harassing settler), who was there with his video camera and whose racist and belligerent comments invited that response.
It was very sad at Bassam’s.
Here’s what he told us: On May 28, the day after Shavuot, settlers (led by Anat Cohen, Baruch Marzel and Moshe Levinger) from Kiryat Arba and accompanied by soldiers and police came and stopped the construction of the second floor of his building (bassem has it all documented with a video camera provided by B'Tzelem). They also tried to go up to the roof and demolish what had already been built. A tractor removed the construction materials that Bassam and volunteers had carried up from in front of the building. Bassam: “They let us move all the materials and only then the bulldozer came and removed them. They ordered us to remove the rest of the gravel that had remained in front of the building. They forbade us to go up to the roof, lest we continue building, God forbid."
Baruch Marzel pulled a knife on Bassam in the presence of the army and the police, who did nothing. He has a building permit from the Hebron municipality. On Wednesday there will be a meeting about it in the municipal building.
On the walls of the building and along the street homemade signs have been posted, reading: “Stop building terrorist nests on the route to the Cave of the Patriarchs.” Bassam keeps the documentation in his workshop.
Signs calling for “Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria” have recently been posted everywhere. That’s being applied literally in Hebron.
Translated by C. Kamen
The whole area dozes this afternoon, from the Meitar crossing, along the roads and there’s also a woeful quiet in Hebron itself. No soldiers next to the fenced-off Beit HaMachpela; maybe they’re taking an afternoon nap? No one on the street; not even a dog wanders through the depressing blight and desolation.
A merchant from Bethlehem sits in ‘Abed’s shop opposite the Cave of the Patriarchs, telling him that business is bad – no customers, the tourists buy little and they themselves make do with little. The situation isn’t easy and he’s worried. Apparently the recession is beginning to have an effect.
Near Dahariya the kabab was perfect, the tea excellent.
Another normal day in an unbearable region.
In the early morning hours the area dozes in heavy mist.Even the Meitar Terminal seems quieter than usual.Hebron too is quieter and more deserted than ever, if that is possible. On the closed door of Abed's shop a notice in English offers free tours - does anyone know about this? Near Tel-Romeida the soldiers are taking a smoke break...
On the way back to Jerusalem we check on a report from Btselem that the checkpoint at the village of A Shyukh.The checkpoint closed on 4 other villages: A-Sair, Beit Einem, Al-Udesiyeh and A-Dawallah/ It is indeed open but one of the entrances to Hebron immediately opposite is closed off to vehicles with huge stones and blocks. The crossing of Route 60 is extremely dangerous to the many pedestrians crossing there.
At the entrance to El Hadr further north, the police are dishing out fines in a campaign against dangerous drivers leaving the town. All Palestinians of course. In the short while we are there dozens of Israel drivers on the main road zoom by at excessive speed. The (unmarked) police car too is parked at a ridiculous angle neither effectively stopping exiting drivers nor protecting itself from the vehicles on the main road.
And an adddition to last week's report: On the journey north we spotted a group of what looked like settler women having some kind of tea party on the verge of the road. Just beyond them was a very old sign saying
Havat Yehuda in Hebrew. A mystery!
Translated by Charles K.
The Meitar crossing is already empty. Four buses that carried relatives of prisoners parked on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. The relatives are no longer on the Israeli side. They’ve already driven away.
How well-kept everything here is; a gardener waters new landscaping opposite the guard station. They’ve tried to make the surroundings pleasant.
If only what goes on here was consistent with outward appearances. If only this turned into a border crossing between states. If only…
Five minutes away, as we drove on Route 317 to Sussiya, signs posted all along the way, reading: Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria. Blue on white. New buildings under construction at Teneh Omerim on the hill to our left.
These are two proofs of the settlers’ true intentions, and of the government which is implementing them: The state of Israel will be a repressive state which believes it is possible to continue eternally crushing a million people under its boots. The “leaders” who are bringing the Zionist project to a close.
We passed next to Carmel and Ma’on; everything is quiet.
We didn’t know that, only two hours later, we’d be told about more vandalism carried out by the settlers from the Ma’on farm.
Again they uprooted olive trees, again they abused the residents of the nearby Khirbet Tawani. They believe that’s how they should behave.
The entry road to Kiryat Arba, and from there to Hebron, is still being upgraded. They’ve opened the southern gate which is usually shut and guarded.
Soldiers and Border Police everywhere, as usual, including on the roof of the building overlooking the worshippers route.
The residents of the neighborhood around the Cave of the Patriarchs are renovating their homes, as if according to the verse “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew” (Exodus 1:12). Despite everything, their spirit hasn’t been broken. A small consolation.
A protest tent on the Cave of the Patriarchs plaza, a woman taking her turn there with her children, as usual, and buses with Israeli visitors. All go to the Jewish side of the Cave of the Patriarchs.
No detainees anywhere, not at any of the checkpoints or the roadblocks nor along the apartheid road leading to Shuhadeh Street. Many children in the streets; summer vacation must have begun.
The main activity on this road involves a special large crane removing Israeli flags that were hung two months ago for Independence Day. Finally.
On our way back we spoke by phone with a man who wanted us to help him obtain an entry permit so he could work his olive grove. The grove is on one side of the fence; his village is on the other. We consulted with Chana Barg and referred him to her. Maybe.
Later we met two more people: The first, to follow up on our attempts to help him obtain again the work permit for Israel that had been withdrawn suddenly for an absurd reason. Sylvia and Chana will tell us how to help him. Meanwhile he has to wait because the computers are being upgraded. We’ll see how long it will take these experts in attrition to implement the upgrade. A second man, also blacklisted for many years with no reason or explanation, asks why he hasn’t received any answer for months. Sylvia explains that his request was delayed because…they upgraded the procedures. Now, after the upgrade, they’ve begun dealing with his request. Now he’ll wait two months for any answer.
That’s the dream of Greater Israel. The nightmare of the lords of the land oppressing a million people forever.
Translator: Charles K.
We arrived a few minutes before 7; the peddlers hurry to gather their merchandise because they’re not allowed to be here after 7 because of the stench coming from the open cesspit. Palestinian laborers continued to cross a few minutes after 7. A Palestinian whose permit had been taken from him by a Border Police soldier at a different checkpoint, and had been lost, asked us for help. We contact Sylvia in such cases, hoping she can help.
Following up on a report from the Ma’an news agency, we went to look for an olive tree that had been burned on 1.6.12.
The olive grove is opposite the protest tent erected after Mrs. Heikhal’s car had been repeatedly set afire. A passerby reported that the police came, and left five minutes later. A Palestinian Authority fire engine extinguished the fire, but the tree was completely burned. They don’t even have mercy on trees planted by Abraham the patriarch. Muhammad reported that Michael, our friend Tzipi’s son, who some years ago had made the effort to rehabilitate and preserve the ancient olive grove.
We forgot to send members of Hashomer Hahadash to the arson site, to investigate the villainy. Hopefully, they’re not completely indifferent to villainy, whatever its source. They’re youths with a mission who are doing a year of civilian service before going into the army, working with Jewish farmers in the Galilee and the Negev to prevent thefts of livestock – a strange, not completely innocent mixture of police work (crime prevention) and Border Police work (protecting Jews against Arabs, including those who are Israeli citizens).
We bought local cucumbers from Nabil, who’s very nice, at Hazif junction. They’re delicious!!
Translator: Charles K.
09:00 – There’s little activity at the crossing because of the terrible stench from the Hebron stream. We asked how those working here are doing. The guy in the booth begins to reply politely when suddenly someone next to him whispers, “Machsom Watch!,” and he immediately alters his demeanor, stops talking to us, waves us off so we’ll “disappear.” We’d become lepers!
We wanted to see how the Shayuch-Beit Anun checkpoint opened. It was open, the road full of vehicles. They can now access Highway 60 directly, but the roadblock on the other side of the road, at the northeastern entrance to Hebron, still hasn’t been removed.
All along Highway 60, and in Hebron itself, we saw nothing unusual, nothing to report.
Kids are kids, again it’s the end of the school year, they’re all getting out early, hanging around, buying ice cream bars from the grocery.
But Hebron remains Hebron. So what else do the kids do here!? Gather around the soldiers’ posts and talk to them.
At the turn to Tel Rumeida, the Palestinian kids hang around the soldier in the booth. Both sides look like they’re having a good time. They’re unaware of the theater of the absurd in which they’re playing their parts.
About 200 meters away, next to Beit Hadassah, settlers’ children. Doing what? Also hanging around the soldier stationed in the booth at the foot of the stairs to the Cordova school, also eating ice cream bars, also seem to be having a good time.
Childhood in Hebron, 2012.
Southern Hebron Hills
We left. On the way back we decided to see what’s happening in the Eshkolot area. The settlement, which almost abuts Ramadin, lies on the Israeli side of the Green Line.
Work is proceeding apace on this winding section of the fence. Here’s where they use unmanned drones to chase people who lack permits, and where the army and police lay ambushes.
Soon it will be very hard for them, even impossible, to enter and earn a little money.
“The human pressure cooker” will grow, with all that implies. But who cares?!
Translator: Charles K.
The last of the laborers hurry through. The peddlers tell us that lately the crossing has closed at 7:30 in the morning, until evening, in protest against the stench of sewage in the area. We saw it close as soon as the bus carrying relatives of prisoners had been inspected.
The city is quiet. The information stand opposite Beit HaMeriva is deserted and dirty. Only one female settler watches over the empty tents. There’s no one to explain to.
Anat welcomes us opposite Beit Hadassah with her usual curses; right behind her, opposite the soldiers’ position, we meet two CPT volunteers. One of them, Petahya, is crying; she tells us that Anat had just fallen upon her, yelling, and then kicked her. We see the red mark on her calf; she’s particularly angry at the soldier who’d just stood there without intervening. We try to interrogate the soldier, and the sergeant who’d also joined him. The soldier said he’d spoken to her, which is why she’d left. The sergeant demonstrates how the soldier responded, this time to us, off-handedly. So we left Petahya, who had decided to complain to the police, which made her feel better.
The schools are giving exams, the pupils finish early, and as we left we saw them walking home along Highway 60.
Shayukh-Sa’ir – The entrance to the village from Highway 60 is open to vehicles. An army jeep that had been parked at the junction was no longer there when we returned from Tarqumiyya.
Translator: Charles K.
Armed soldiers next to the pillbox at the junction near the Tarqumiyya grocery, watching trucks crossing to Area A. A surprise at the Shayukh-Sa’ir junction: the crossing is open! Many vehicles going through, in every direction. Boulders still block access to the west.
(Why, after many years, has it suddenly been opened?)
Farther on, a huge sign: “Judea and Samaria – Every Jew’s story.” And: “Beit Haggai – You’ll feel at home.”
At the entrance to Hebron we discover our radiator is leaking and drive immediately to the local garage. While they’re replacing hoses we stop at a grocery, and then visit Azzam (to order a table for friends…)
More signs near the Cave of the Patriarchs: “My flame will burn until the Messiah comes;” “The time of redemption has come; we’ll continue our acquisitions…”
It’s relatively quiet today. A few tour buses, the tourists in the Cave of the Patriarchs…
Camouflage netting on the roof of a building opposite the Worshippers Route, soldiers looking down.
Golden fields all along the road – people reaping with sickles, bundling and tying sheaves, just like in the days of Ruth and Boaz. (“And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.”)
We’re detained once again at the Tarqumiyya crossing, and when Raya demands that they stop treating us this way, the excuse is, “She’s a new inspector.”