South Hebron Hills, Sat 18.4.09, Morning
CP is almost empty and looks rather deserted.
The activity of several leftists enlivens the district today. Several police Sufa vehicles (Israeli-made Jeeps) and several military vehicles drive back and forth. We try to understand what happened, that might explains such massive presence of security forces and gather that several activists tries to do some agriculture works next to the illegal settlement of Assael, whose residents are recently busily engaged in attempts to extend.
Obviously, such activity awakens the entire district. The Brigade commander has signed several decrees and effectively, the entire South Hebron mount is under a closed-military-zone decree.
The policemen proudly present us with the valid and properly signed decree.
We reach Sousia: present, is a large group of Israelis and Palestinians who have arrived there with a guided tour conducted by "Breaking the Silence" and "Fighters for Peace" (two Israeli peace NGO). The policemen, as part of a special gesture, have allowed them to enter Sousia, but now they will not let the tour proceed, insisting it must now return to Jerusalem. Following some negotiations, the tour proceeds regardless, under heavy military escort. At the observation point, next to the illegal outpost Avigail, the soldiers prohibit stopping, as they do at the highest spot, next to the transit station at the entry to Ma'on Farm and, obviously along the side of the road too. In short, both soldiers and policemen make the lives of the tour participants and guides alike so unbearable that they can nothing but turn back home. As they leave Sousia, follows some more negotiations between the tour's guides and the policemen, one of the guides' ID, as well as those of the bus drivers are confiscated. This is how the policemen's ensure "good behavior" and obedience.
The tour proceeds from this area, to the end-point at Simiya, where Israelis and Palestinians sit together under the olive trees for a joint lunch. As the buses leave for Jerusalem, the guide from "Breaking the Silence" is handed back his ID. The drivers do not earn a similarly friendly treatment – their IDs stay with the policemen who promise to escort the buses and hands them back to the drivers when they leave the area. At the Sheep's Juncture, the bus driver stops the vehicle – the police van has vanished, and his ID – what's with it?!
After waiting for about 15min., a police van drives past at high speed. The bus driver chases it. At the entry to Halhul, the policemen stop. Following some talk, it transpires that the documents are not with them anyway. Let the driver wait some more.
15min. later, a second van drives past. The IDs are returned to their owners and the tour's participants can finally make their way back home.
The quantities of fuel burnt by police cars that day are difficult to estimate, but they were considerable – and all, at our expense of course, citizens of this clumsily administered country.