End of May - Beginning of June at the road-blocks or "The Virtual Road Map" | Machsomwatch
אורנית, מהצד הזה של הגדר

End of May - Beginning of June at the road-blocks or "The Virtual Road Map"

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Monday, 30 June, 2003

People who follow our politics may have perceived hopeful signs - President Bush talking about division of the Holy Land, PM Sharon pronouncing the need to end the occupation and the undesirability of ruling 3.5 million Palestinians. The Road Map was accepted by both sides. Then - the unsurprising sequel - the Israeli assassination attempt on the major Hamas leader, followed by the gory bombing of the Jerusalem bus. More violence. Now - frantic international efforts to keep the Road Map alive. During all this time, the reality of the occupation did not improve; in fact, it has become worse. Total disconnection between political declarations, and the reality on the ground, is staggering. The policy of strangulation of Palestinian society has only tightened. For example, the only gate in the Abu Dis ghetto wall was closed shut. The ghetto (an East Jerusalem suburb) is surrounded by a concrete wall covered by barbed wire. In order to get to Jerusalem, you have to climb the wall, or to squeeze precariously through a hole. This does not stop terrorists from bombing. It stops normal people from having a life. Below you can find excerpts from MachsoMwatch reports from Qalandya, Huwwara, Abu Dis and Bethlehem roadblocks, which exemplify this reality. Full reports of all shifts can be viewed under the respective dates. (compiled by Victoria B.)


Huwwara checkpoint

Saturday May 31, 2003, 8-11:45 a.m 
Upon our arrival, 8 a.m., we found a huge crowd of about 500 hundred people. Local people told us that the checkpoint was open at 6:30. It seems that people expected easier passage through a checkpoint, because of new political developments. There was a new arrangement of a pedestrian passage: it was divided into three narrow lines with barbed wire. It seems that the only material that Israel Defence Forces find proper to use for arranging a passage for civilians is barbed wire. Since passages are very narrow people's skin and clothes are constantly caught by wire barbs.
Soldiers believe in an exemplary punishment: they kept 3 men, two of them with hands tied from behind, at the checkpoint and the commander explained us that it is a good lesson to learn for by-passing people.



Etzion checkpoint and Al-Khadr roadblocks

Sunday morning, 01/06/03, a.m.
Team: Chaya O., Tamar S., Maya R.
 ...."the general closureinfo-icon on 'Judea and Samaria' has been lifted". The grand trust-building manoeuvre supposedly took place over-night, while the nation was asleep. If this wasn't such an outrageous lie, I would have suggested that we replace April Fool's day with June Fool's day. What should worry us all is the willingness of the Israeli public and media to swallow the declaration for fact, regardless of what takes place on the ground, and first and foremost the fact that no redeployment of the occupying forces whatsoever is accompanying the supposed "lifting", that is, not one checkpoint is removed, not one roadblock dismantled, not one unit pulled out from the midst of the Palestinian territory. " 



Qalandya checkpoint

Tuesday afternoon, June 3rd 
Yael N., Hagit S. 
Curfew in Ramallah, some of the checkpoints are closed according to the news on Israeli radio. We do not know what to expect... We arrived at Qalandya at the very same time Abu Sukar, released from prison, was received there by family and followers. Hafez was there to explain the reason for the big happening with lots of cameras (including some soldiers who left their post for a minute and took pictures), music by local drummers of all ages, the released prisoner was held up by the crowd and escorted through the CP. For a while there was a lot of tension in the air. Soldiers were running about with rifles pointed at the celebrating crowd. We even heard a shot, but it mingled with the music. On the crossroad, the road is blocked for vehicles in both directions and 4 soldiers are checking pedestrians. The soldiers tell us willingly the most recent instructions they have got last evening and will last for two days: only yellow [Israeli] plate cars can pass, pedestrians with blue [Jerusalem] ID, all women, men over age 60 and all children... About 15 people who were denied passage hang around waiting for a right moment to re try . Some of them have been trying for days to return south to their home. Dave, a volunteer, told us that yesterday the checkpoint closed at around 13:00 and "as a result there was an eruption which looked like war". The commander of the check-point, Nadav, did not like the sight of us talking with Dave and came forward to recite his speech : "We are disturbing the work and endangering the soldiers. The area of the check-point should stay sterileinfo-icon". 



Abu-Dis Wall

5/6/2003 morning
Magdalena H, Emmi K, Eva J.
....we heard various opinions [from Palestinians] about the peace process more than one person explained that peace is coming and very soon (few days ) the blocks will be gone. We felt very sad expecting yet another disappointment for them.



Etzion checkpoint and near Al-Khadr junction

08/06/03, am
Team: Chaya O., Lauren E., Tamar S., Maya R.
"The declaration of the re-imposition of the general closure on the West Bank this morning carries one positive consequence in its wake; it relieves the Palestinians of the outrageous lie concerning the supposed lifting of the siege to which they are subjected. As of today, terminology ("closure") again matches with reality. On the other hand, our experience at Etzion and Al-Khadr this morning proves that the measures subsumed under "closure" are still far from being exhausted, that is, Palestinians are currently facing even tighter and stricter restrictions and prohibitions of movement than before." 




10.6.03 afternoon
Irit S., Hagit S., Roni H.
Due to recurring reports on the deterioration of the situation on the Surda "promenade" we decided to go there. We realized that the road - unlike a month ago - was completely obstructed by huge concrete blocks, which impeded all movement of vehicles - also of ambulances or other emergency services. According to the orders of Mahat Roni Numa, ambulances are now supposed to use the road of the Military Court, a fact that substantially prolongs the route and jeopardizes life saving efforts! .... The road from the airport to Kufr Akeb runs parallel to the almost completed separation fence and all the side roads are blocked off by newly piled up earth ramparts. 




11.6.03 Wednesday morning
Shalmit B., Hana B. Michal L. Avital O.
Today is a seger [closure], as yesterday and the day before. Just when we arrived to the Gilo road we saw some persons (including a boy) jumping from the wall, running successfully to Beit Tzafafa. They were lucky. Some minutes later came a soldier, stood on the promenade, and could see everything moving. The unlucky ones stayed in Tantur. ... In the Cafe, near the taxi station, where we visit every week, and hear the stories of abuse, hitting, breaking, and stealing of cigarettes by Border Police soldiers, we were happy to find again that more than 10 days nobody has come to interfere.



Abu Dis

11/6 afternoon 
Natania G. Judy Shotan, Ruti B
When we arrived Abu Dis was very quiet. ... But barbed wire had been added to the blocks so that people could not go through... still one woman managed to squeeze through a crack. We helped a mother and her daughter over the wall. The mother told us she worked at the home for the elderly opposite and came that way to work each morning. They asked from which country we had come...Sweden? England? and were amazed to be told that we were Israelis, Jews from Jerusalem. The woman said that no one wanted their sons to be killed, not Arabs and not Jews. ... ... Then we walked down towards the petrol station and suddenly saw the soldiers running and the jeep speeding up to the gate...the soldiers had their rifles on the ready and as they ran past us shouted that there had been a pigua [terrorist bombing] in the centre of Jerusalem. It was very hurtful to hear their comments as one shouted " Are you happy now?" and from the jeep one shouted "Your friends have made another pigua. " We did not attempt to go up to the gate to see what was happening as we felt that at such a time we could only have made things worse, so we left the area. 



Abu Dis, Sawahre

12 June
Observers: Eva J. Chana A. and Ilana D.
.... Down at the bottom near the wall, the street was almost empty. Two Border Policemen on top of the wall prevented any attempt to cross. At the top the gate was closed and the soldiers informed us that not even holders of blue [Jerusalem] ID-s were let through, only school-children whom they assisted to climb over the high wall next to the gate. The buses and vans were idly waiting for lack of passengers and the soldiers said they had no idea at what time the passage would be opened. The order to close it hermetically had come from the government and not from the army. We took our car through A-tur all the way around to the other side of the wall and boarded a cab to Sawahre... In Sawahre we found a long line of trucks with agricultural produce on their way from Jericho to Hebron waiting in the sun while the vegetables were getting spoiled... We were approached by the truck-drivers who related their problems to us. One of them with a carload full of wilting Swiss chard (mangold) said that an empty truck was waiting at the bottom in Wadi Nar and he was prepared to leave his papers with the soldiers while he would carry the crates from his vehicle to the other truck. Another told us about the cheeses on his truck, which were getting hot. When we suggested they approach the commander themselves, they told us they were scared of possible beatings. ...After half an hour the truck with the Swiss chard decided to attempt the descent and pass the Border Police jeep all the way down in Wadi Nar. The other drivers watched with us and saw that he was held up. We then called Nissim the Head Commander, who said that he was no longer in charge, but would pass on the information and within a couple of minutes we noticed that the jeep at the bottom had let the one truck through. Very excitedly all the other trucks started in a long convoy on their way down and we were pleased to see that a large number of pedestrians also appeared as if from nowhere. Most walked down, but some were picked up by a yellow cab who took them beyond the valley. A man who was born 36 years ago in Jericho, had lived his whole life under the occupation and had worked in Jewish settlements nearby warmly thanked us. His Hebrew was excellent. He gave us some of his tiny cucumbers after rinsing them and told us that he fetches 15 Shekels for a whole crate (18 kilos) of tomatoes. His truck-load was worth 3000 Shekels and he was very pleased that now it would not spoil. 



Abu Dis, Sawahre

Thursday, 12/6/03 afternoon 
Observers: Judith Warschawski, Yarden Dankner and two guests
.....An older man, speaking beautiful Hebrew summed the whole frustrating experience, looking into my eyes he said: you know, peace is made by and between people like us, by being in contact, by talking to each other; this act removes fear which in turn removes anger and hatred. Life is so short, he said, and this is such a terrible waste of it all. As if he read my mind.