Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Wed 21.10.09, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Michal received a phone call yesterday at 5:30 in the afternoon from a Palestinian at the checkpoint who complained that it was very crowded – both she and I tried to contact S., who is in charge of the crossing, but he must have been screening his calls. We assumed that it would be bad this morning as well. We were wrong: by 06:40 all the laborers had already gone through, and inspection of prisoner families had begun – four busloads. There are no problems with the “back-to-back” procedure at the sand crossing.
A prominent sign of the Southern Hebron Hills local council wishes us a safe trip…So why is it only in Hebrew?! There’s very little traffic in any case, and no military vehicles.
Routes 317, 356
All the roadblocks of earth mounds and large boulders which blocked the roads to the Palestinian villages have been removed. Many children on the way to school near the Zif junction. Many new olive trees are being planted in Sousiya, to the right of the road from Beersheva. It looks like Jewish plantings (they’re in barrels) – another way to take over land. Moreover, on the hill, past the single-family homes, another building is under construction. It looks like a public building, and it’s not clear whether it’s also on private Palestinian land.
Two soldiers stand at the first checkpoint giving access to the Tomb of the Patriarchs’ parking lot – a checkpoint operated by the Border Police. Many children pass through on their way to school, and one of the soldiers keeps making comments and kidding around with the girls.
The other soldier stops one of the Palestinians – who was born in 1991 – and asks him to lift his shirt. He looks at his socks and then at his belt, takes his ID card and tells him to wait by the side of the road – but doesn’t immediately transmit the information over the walkie-talkie. Then he stops another man, born in 1992, and goes through exactly the same procedure… Here, too, he waits before transmitting the information.
This is the first time we’ve seen such behavior while children are going through on their way to school. When we asked why the inspection has become more rigorous, the soldiers said, “Yesterday they threw building blocks at us.” A peace activist from CTP arrived and told us that since Golani soldiers have been manning the position, they counted at the morning inspection at the Pharmacy checkpoint 260 schoolbags that were opened. It seemed to us that the detainees would be released more quickly were we to leave, so we left.
Pharmacy checkpoint: Manned by Golani soldiers, who are in fact inspecting every child’s schoolbag. One of the soldiers asks over the radio whether we’re allowed to be here. We remain, and he doesn’t mention it again, so he must have been told that we’re allowed to be here. We don’t ask for permission. In response to our question about why they’re inspecting the schoolbags, and to our request that they be more polite, they tell us that last night a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the checkpoint – once again, the chicken and the egg. To us, at least, it’s clear that if we hadn’t been there, no one would have thrown Molotov cocktails at us. In any case, the 19-year-old soldier didn’t see the connection.
After 8AM - Hebron, area H2, again looks deserted - the children are in school. We didn’t see any detainees at the other checkpoints. We bought excellent home-made labeneh at a grocery we hadn’t been to before. And at our “office” next to the checkpoint at the Kafisha neighborhood we contributed to the Palestinian economy by ordering chairs from a metal shop.
Leaving Hebron, we see a cluster of people next to the Giva’t Harsina military base: an ambulance and a fire truck. There had been a serious traffic accident, and a car had overturned in front of the entrance – we didn’t stay around to get details, because the drivers of the ambulance and the fire truck were settlers from Kiryat Arba and from Hebron; we’re afraid of them and want to avoid unnecessary confrontations with them.
Ha’zayit crossing is open, with no flying checkpoint, but all the pillboxes are manned as usual.
Tarqumiyya – The olive press is open but they have no business because there’s no crop. People don’t even have oil for household use, and a liter can cost NIS 70. People go to Jordan to bring back olive oil, and they’re sad because there aren’t any olives. At the metal shop in Hebron we saw three jerricans filled with oil that had been bought in Nablus, which they wanted to return because they said the olive oil had been diluted with corn oil.
Again we heard stories about what goes on in the morning at the Tarqumiyya checkpoint and about unnecessary harassment. We tried to meet with Zion, who’s in charge of the crossing, but he couldn’t see us today. We made an appointment for next week.