Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Tarqumiya, Tue 28.7.09, Morning
10am. The CP routine seems normal and relaxed at this time of day. Many tracks, loaded with merchandise, come and go. We went to the Palestinian side to check people's passage. It was empty, quiet and derelict. Food vendors sat idle and said all was ok.
Idnah-Tarquomiya: the pillbox is manned, traffic flows. We entered through the Olive pathway to the Halhul-Hebron bridge. The opening of this pathway really shortened travel time from Hebron to Jerusalem. The glassware story next to the Halhul bridge is big and impressive – worth buying presents there. The soldiers positioned at the pillbox did not come down to see what we were doing there and there was no rolling checkpoint either.
Driving on the roads, we tried to see signs of new settlement. We noticed minor changes to the entrance to Kiryat Arba; in the stronghold the settlers call "Avihai viewpoint" there were more cars and more people.
Half-fainting from the heat, there are many more soldiers now where previously there were only blockages. In the alleys going downhill towards Curve 160, approaching from the direction of the prayers' route, soldiers stand next to the concrete blocks. We haven't seen so many soldiers there for a long time.
Tarpat; Tel Rumeida; Pharmacy CPs: soldiers stand idle, no detainees anywhere. We pity the few passers-by, women, the elderly and children, all walking down those steep alleys in midday heat, prohibited to use vehicles.
At the CP next to the entrance to Avraham Avinu Neighbourgood, the soldiers moved to the other side of the road, standing there with their guns pulled out, threatening.
Patriarchs' Tombs' Cave CPs: no detainees. In the parking lot, opposite the stores and the yellow gate separating the Muslims' entrance from the Jews', we notice a large group of youngsters behind the yellow gate, on the Muslim side – this is a group of students from all over the world who've come to Bir Zeit University for summer courses and are now walking around Hebron on a tour. The happily greet us, asking "MachsomWatch?! We've heard of you!", "Your Jewish? Cheers!" "Can we take a joint photo? What exactly do you do?", they take photos with us and excitedly photo also our tags, asking for details about the organization. I answer all their questions, and think to myself how important it is that they meet this face of Israel, too! Turns out they were delayed there while it was determined how they could cross the road to the souvenir shops. A Border Police soldier, civilized enough, we ought to add, approaches and allows them to walk only through the Palestinian side, where the passage through the concrete blocks is narrower, vehemently refusing their passage through the Jews' side entry. It is odd that the yellow gate was not opened for a group of more than 30 people. Responding to my question, he says: "its only today, because works are being done there"… Is this trustworth?
Basem's grocery: Basem tells of a planned march of settlers from the Harsina hill through Kiryat Arba and the Heroes of Hebron Neighborhood, located on Palestinian land proper, down in the valley, then on to the prayers' route, to the Patriarchs' tombs' cave. He says there's no progress with regard to the opening of the Zion route and that all is stuck.
Below Beit Hagai: the bulldozer works the ground, secured by a military Jeep.
All the way back home, nothing seems changed relative to last week.