Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tue 21.4.09, Morning
A long line of sand tracks stands on the Israeli side of the CP, and there's a similar line on the Palestinian side, too. Four buses of prisoners' families' visits, although workers have all already passed through (if only Irtach could be like Sansana…).
South Hebron Mount:
Troubling developments at Hirbat Tawanni:As we've received tens of phone calls from the people there through the week, we decided to visit there and see what's troubling them. And indeed, troubles are multiple. They also sounded rather disappointed by the fact that other left-activists have somewhat neglected them lately.
1. The army roams around the village quite often (5-6 jeeps) because many illegal workers infiltrate to Israel via the open fields to the east of Hirbat Tawaf. The army detains car owners, accusing them of assisting in those infiltration efforts. The army enters also the homes of those car owners, detaining them – collective punishment imposed over those who have nothing to do in the matter at all. Soldiers are violent and uncivil.
2. Together with the "Bimkon" NGO, the head of the village's council, Mochtar Saber, submitted a master plan to the civil admin., asking for 100 dunams (4 dunam = 1 acre): the civil admin., however, approved only 30. Hence, the village council and Bimkon appealed to the courts – apparently irritating the military authorities, who now exerting pressure on the villagers, hope to make them repeal this appeal.
3. Minister of defense, Ehud Barak, decided about four months ago to include the south Hebron mount villages to the "fluctuating [separation] line" policy, approving the opening of agricultural gates for them as well. Meanwhile, though, until final mapping is agreed upon, all contested areas have been declared "closed military zone." And who is allowed in? The herd owners of the Schmid farm who, immediately upon hearing of the elections results, rushed to enlarge their herds – knowing it should be still easier to harass the Palestinians now. 4. Grazing fields – 15 dunams of wheat incontestably owned by Palestinians, were declared "closed military zone" by the army. The settlers' herds have ate the Palestinian wheat there. The Palestinians were allowed only into their olive groves, where sheep can eat very little anyway.
5. There is still water in the water wells, but it seems unlikely that that should last until the end of the summer. Not only Israel is drying up – Palestine is so, too. Yet, we take their water from them. The Ma'on farm, an illegal settlement, enjoys water supply from Mekorot (Israeli Water supplier), and so does Mitzpeh Avigail and Mitzpeh Asael – but the Palestinian villages, not so.
6. Many reports concerning the police and army late arrival for school escorts. The officer in charge on behalf of the Laison &Coordination Admin., substructure officer A., as passed on all decisional authorities to officer H., who is a settler. When we talked to him, in attempt to decipher the logic behind this, he referred us on, to the public complaints officer at the Civil Admin. Superficially looking, the symbiosis between the settlers and the Civil Admin. seems pervasive, effecting the deliberate discrimination of Palestinians and preferential treatment of settlers, almost all of whom reside in illegal settlements. Justice apparently has no place in the Wild West.We connected G. and H. (our Palestinian "informants"), with Ehud Hemo, and hope he will indeed publish some piece on it this coming Sunday.
We arrived early enough to see the settlers pray "Shacharit" at the Hazon David synagogue, inside the tent just under the Patriarchs' Hill – an illegal settlement/stronghold that remain put, ridiculing all the army's decisions and declarations to the contrary. At the crossroads, a military ambulance is parked. Why?
On both sides of the Zion Route, due to be opened (soon?), gates and pillboxes have been set up. The route itself is not yet opened.
Next to the House of Dispute, soon to be transformed into a military base, a caravan, toilets and transformer have been put up. The settlers have been evacuated, but not the CP. Below the House of Dispute, Border Police soldiers detain one pedestrian at a time all day long. The evacuation of the settlers from the House of Dispute has not made the local Palestinians' lives any easier. Before, it was the settlers who harassed them – now, it is Border Police soldiers. The numbers of Border Police soldiers positioned in Hebron has increased considerably since the evacuation of the House of Dispute and, discounting the CPs of Tel-Rumeidah, Tarpat, Avraham Avinu, and the Shouhada St., manned by soldiers of the parachutes 101 brigade, all Hebron CPs are manned by them (BP) – the Patriarchs' Tomb Cave; the Pharmacy CP and the Schorr CP.
We wonder whether this is a new policy and what is the rational behind it? In any case, at every CP there's at least one detainee at any given time – each such detention takes no more than ten min., but what good is there in such harassment and humiliation?
Tel Rumeidah CP: Two parachutes detain a young person, hurrying to work. He replies, but they find his response unacceptable and one of the soldiers pushes him back. We jump out of the car and violence is held on check. I pull out my camera, and the soldiers is annoyed: "you're not allowed to be here. This is military area," he exclaims – to which I respond that, if it is indeed military area, the settlers, too, should not be allowed there. "I will call the police" he warns me and when I ignore him, he adds "so don't take my picture!" Given that violence is over and they now check their detainee's ID details, I agree and he calms down. The other soldiers proposes that we go up to Yishai's Tomb, up on Tel-Rumeidah – everything, so long as we leave them at peace. Meanwhile, they release the detainee. After some more words have been exchanged and we find out that the harassing soldiers comes from Dimona, and that we know the highschool he's studied at, he allows us that Arab Palestinians are humans, too.
Tarpat CP: One detainee is released as we arrive. We can see no peace activists anywhere – only two TIF policemen under the Cordoba School's stairway; another pair at the Pharmacy CP, and yet another next to the Schorr CP.
Pharmacy CP: at the boys school's Ibrahamiya, the boys walk readily through. The school's janitor there tell us that on Sunday Border Police soldiers have denied access to a food cart, supplying the school with food (light beverage and cookies) for two years already. The food is supplied by the EU on Sundays, lasting the entire week. Enquiring with the soldiers at the CP they tell us that they are new there, and have been ordered not to allow the cart in. They've actually checked the contents of the packs and saw nothing suspicious but not being explicitly allowed – they prohibited. We told the TIF policemen of this incident and also update K, the L&C Admin. representative, who promised to follow up. We then returned to school and updates them, asking to be informed of new developments this coming Sunday. We felt like good social workers' of the occupation. All Palestinians we talked to in Hebron today – and we've talked to quick many – said the Passover passed quietly for them – only the close-down was oppressive.
As we were there, Hebron was flooded by children walking to school – but at 08:00am sharp, this part of town looks deserted, which is always depressing. And the thought that a mere 500 Jewish kids can create such havoc in the lives of so many Palestinians is very troubling.
Roads 60, 35, 356, 317:
There is very little traffic on the roads just now, almost no military vehicles at all. At every juncture, flags of Israel and of the South Hebron municipal council. As usual, there is no mention of the Palestinian villages on any of the signposts. All blockages are in place, and all pillboxes are manned – the routine of the occupation goes on, uninterrupted.