Beit Ummar, Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nuaman, Mon 13.4.09, Afternoon
14:30 till 18:00 PM
A Machsom Watch member from Tel Aviv and her friend wanted to come with us to find out what is special about the checkpoints near Jerusalem. We therefore decided to give them an extensive tour and we even left the Bethlehem area somewhat; more about this later.
Nuaman: it was early afternoon and very hot. Not a soul was outside. We had already in the past reported on the fact that the inhabitants have returned to an agricultural life and this time we were even more impressed by the amount of tilled fields all around. We continued on the road towards Nokdim and thus were able to show our guests both the pastoral Palestinians villages bathed in colors of spring flowers along de road enclosed by fences and the settlements of Tekoa and Nokdim which stick out with their red roofs.
Etzion DCL: which was almost empty. Two young men stood next to the entrance and asked for our assistance. They were holding a request from their church for a permit to attend holiday services in Jerusalem. When we tried to ask the soldier at the window whether they had any chance to obtain a permit, he replied that in the intermediate days of Passover (Chol Hamo’ed) the DCL only deals with humanitarian issues. As we were leaving we met with a man who was just leaving very pleased since he had just received a magnetic card which had been refused to him for the last couple of years. Now he has to request a permit to go to work and he hopes he will not be considered a security risk and therefore refused. We gave him Sylvia’s telephone number just in case.
We felt very uncomfortable when a cabdriver told us that someone had been waiting for us. We remembered that indeed last week we had promised someone we had met at the Container CP that we would try and intervene with Maher to get rid of the fact that he was refused a permit on police grounds which according to us had already lapsed. Because of the holidays and the curfew we had forgotten our promise. So we called him and told him we would let him know when we would be at the DCL next time. We would not have been able to help him, because Maher was absent, but we still felt very badly.
We continued southward and paid a visit to Abu Nassim who during our last visit had complained bitterly about the behavior of the army, which had entered his house. This time he was his old smiling self again; the soldiers have not harassed him since that last time.
Bethlehem - Rachel Crossing: we returned to the Rachel Crossing where we didn’t see one single worker, only a few tourists entered and exited – a proper curfew!
Sheikh Sa’ad: to show our guest this sad prison.
We were not allowed to go in, according to the officer of the Border Police at the entrance the situation is very tense, because of what had happened a few days earlier in Jebel Mukaber when a driver who suspected of wanting to run over policemen who had come to demolish the house of a terrorist, had been shot dead. His body is still there, a few dozen yards from the entrance to Sheikh Sa’ad.
According to Maya, a MW-member of TA area there is indeed a huge difference between the checkpoints she is used to and the ones she saw with us: “The Israelis and Palestinians live so close together and are entangled together.”