Hebron, Sansana, Wed 4.11.09, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
A huge, terrible confusion when we arrived at 06:40!! At least 1,500 people waiting on line, relatively orderly, more or less. The crossing opened on time, at 03:45, and for three days it operated very well (see the reports from Nov. 1 and Nov. 3). This morning none of the scanners were working so people weren’t going in; they added inspectors and security personnel.
Shlomo, the manager of the crossing, was already there when the breakdowns began and did all he could to make the inspections go quickly; he asked to be allowed to let people through, but nothing helped. The Ministry of Defense has money to waste on 5-star hotels in Paris for the minister, but for the crossing to operate in a manner that allows people who want to make an honest living to go through easily – there’s no money for that. The machines break down frequently, and then the Palestinians are accused of being disruptive on line…Who wouldn’t be disruptive in that situation?! It was very lucky that it didn’t rain this morning. Shlomi allowed many of the people to go through the parking lot, to the vehicle scanning machines, and opened as many gates as he could to reduce the pressure on line, but we saw at least one Palestinian whose ribs were in danger of being crushed from the shoving. By eight in the morning everyone had gone through, and a bus carrying relatives going to visit prison inmates was waiting to pass.
After things had calmed down we had a long conversation with Shlomi and told him that it’s important to tell the Palestinians what’s going on, explain the delays, not ignore them – not knowing when they’ll get through is extremely irritating, particularly if you’re worried about missing a day of work. They promised to let them know what’s going on. The crossing staff has already asked for funding to install an electronic message board in Arabic so they can display information about how long the wait is, but the request hasn’t yet been approved. We said that meanwhile they can make announcements over the loudspeakers… Let’s hope that the scanners will be working tomorrow morning. We were also told that there’s sometimes a problem in the afternoon when people are returning from work, and that someone with a pacemaker arrives who isn’t known to the inspectors, and because he doesn’t have an official letter they make him pass through the machine. We explained how he could get the necessary letter, and left.
Hebron always looks to me deserted and irritating.
Because of the delays at Sansana, we arrived too late to see the children going to school. But what we did see, at the Curve 160 checkpoint, were the Border Police inspecting a Palestinian car for an entire quarter of an hour before allowing it to drive on the road. Although the road looked open, in fact barely five cars a day use it and an entire Border Police detachment defends it, and if someone does happen to come by, the police pull him over because the vehicle is unsafe to drive – in short, a kind of CYA [“Cover your ass”] – “Look how good we are to the Palestinians, and they don’t take advantage of the crossing.” Maybe we wouldn’t be there at all, and let them live there own lives?! That, of course, isn’t a possibility that anyone considers.
L., the friendly policeman, tells us that the army is annoyed that an entire Border Police detachment is wasted on five cars a day, and for that reason the road might simply be closed. And he adds: “They’re given more and more, and are always angry…”
Up at Tel Rumeida we run into the new TIF police on an orientation tour of Hebron. We go down to introduce ourselves and the organization, but just then we received a phone call from home that required we return quickly, so we left and drove home.