Bethlehem, Etzion DCL, Nuaman, Wed 23.9.09, Afternoon
2:30 till 5:30 PM.
Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: new building sites surround the neighborhood of Har Homa and its skyscraper is reaching completion in record time.
Nuaman: someone must have read our report, because we were allowed immediately to enter Nuaman (last time we had been refused for no apparent reason). The place looked like a ghost village. There was no one outside, but two donkeys. It is clear that there is much more agriculture and in addition to newly planted olive trees, the number of hothouses has increased and large plots of ploughed land await the seeds and winter rains. New swings and a slide have been installed, probably a gift from some benefactor.
On the way to the Etzion settlement bloc we saw Palestinians harvesting their crops of cabbages and tomatoes.
Etzion DCL: a man with a grin on his face exited, he was pleased and told us that everything was OK. There was no one inside. We left.
There were no soldiers near Al Aroub and the cabs parked right in front of the grocery store across the watchtower. We bought some vegetables and saw that our friend Abu Nassim had added a storey to his house.
Across El-Khader there were a lot of parked yellow cabs awaiting returning workers after their first day after Ramadan and the closure.
At the tunnel CP there are two lanes for people who look like Palestinians on the the right. Those who `by mistake' take the left lane are also directed for further scrutinizing to the right. The wait was not longer than five minutes and even a bus which had to be inspected after all the passengers had gotten off, was sent on its way after less than ten minutes. The soldiers in charge of the checking were not bothered by our attendance.
The stretch of the road between the two tunnels is now completely closed off on the eastern side, making it even more claustrophobic than before.
We thought that it must be Rachel's yahrzeit again, but it falls only next month. We could hardly get close to the CP because of the number of busses with Haredim, maybe the ten days till Yom Kippur are also dedicated to visits to the tomb. We parked in the official parking lot which was almost empty and noted that the metal gates on both sidewalks are closed forcing us to walk on the street.
There were three windows open and people passed quickly. The civilian guard explained to us how important the checkpoints are and was not convinced by our arguments.