Whether due to the heavy heat or overflowing sewage somewhere nearby, the stench arising from the mounds of garbage at the entrance to Sheikh Saed was worse than ever. No one at the checkpoint objected to our entry into the neighbourhood, we were only asked why we should want to do so. Our impression was that, as far as the security personnel were concerned, we also had permission never to return.
Some youths in the square offered us transportation which we did not accept. One of them, a 24-year old, married and a father, has been denied a work permit and has no livelihood.
It appears that, despite complaints to the checkpoint commnader who promised to deal with the problem, loud music played by the soldiers throughout the night continues, disturbiing the sleep of the children and the elderly.
A man with a child about 6 years old in his arms came down and asked to be taken to the clinic which is about 100 meters distant from the checkpoint. But he was refused because he didn't have a permit. A stormy argument ensued, while we remained silent, interested in the results, but not interested in hearing the soldiers telling us we were interfering with the work of the border policeman who was not interested in contacting his superiors about this matter. He knows his job and is familiar with this man who is a manipulator. The man told us that all his family lives in Jabel Mukhaber, and he alone has a Palestinian ID. He said the population had not rebelled when one of them was shot about a year ago, and another spattered with about 150 rounds of bullets when he tried to leave illegally. But of course everyone is fed up.
The argument terminated when his cousin arrived from the other side and took the child. One of the guards seemed a little more humane than the rest, he spoke fluent Arabic, a Druze. A blonde female soldier took sides with the unrelenting commander, saying that her mother was a qualified nurse and therefore she, the soldier, could tell that the child was not really sick...
We stopped at the roundabout to yield to the traffic coming from El-Azaria, and one of the settlers coming from Kedar expressed his impatience vehemently. Meanwhile we admired the ancient olive trees recently planted in the centre of the roundabout.
Traffic flowed at a reasonable pace in both directions. When we approached, one of the soldiers said to the commander: "Here come your girlfriends." A well-mannered soldier from the Jerusalem Envelope unit came up to ask who we were. He's new at this post, comes 2-3 times a week to make sure the Palestinians are not harrassed or unnecessarily delayed. And indeed, when one of the taxis was stopped, the papers were returned to the driver within minutes -- a miracle!
On the way back we entered Maaleh Adumim to admire an even more splendid olive tree just beyond the entrance to the settlement. Orit promised to send us a poem about these trees.
We detected more and more signs that Mevasseret Adumim has arrived.