Abu Dis, Sheikh Saed, Thu 5.11.09, Morning
Shosh H., Michaela R. (reporting)
But why thus? The question pops up at the Pishpash, at the sight of little ones climbing up metal steps taller than their legs.
6:45 Sheikh Saed
One by one, documents, contents of bags, are checked... Not many crossing, and no lines form unless the check is prolonged. Only the little ones cross today without lines or checks.
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Shifting the wall eastward has restored some life to the aluminum project. There are more houses now on
the Jerusalem side of the wall. The windows and balconies of the homes facing east and abutting on the wall, have become cages enclosed in fences and latticework. The Pishpash is now entirely closed off, opening twice a day only for the kindergarten children.
Is the Pishpash included in the list of checkpoints now removed?
A woman wishing to cross east to visit a sick person was sent to the Zeitim Crossing; i.e. in order to get to the other side of the wall she must travel a long distance.
Next to the nunnery a sister stands awaiting the arrival of the children.
She tells us there are 51 little ones, seven from the Jerusalem side, the rest from the east. We saw the well-tended kindergarten enclosed by the wall, and our hearts shrank at the sight, despite the bright paintings on the concrete.
The Pishpash is a narrow entry in one of the concrete blocks of the wall. For some reason, only this block is situated high up so that one has to climb to the Pishpash. From the western side one climbs up a steep mound of earth, and from the east there is a kind of metal ladder.
Around 8:00 AM a border police jeep arrived and the Pishpash was opened. The nuns wait to welcome the children and help them climb down on the western side. One of the teachers is stationed on the eastern side, helping each child climb the steps which are higher than their legs. The smallest she picks up in her arms.
Some parents bring their children by car. It is difficult to see the parents' eyes sending a last glance towards the vanishing backs of their little ones. Leyla, a sweet little girl, is tearful, reluctant to separate from her mother. Most of the children arrive by organised transportation.
According to one of the nuns, the soldiers come late on Saturdays. The transporting vehicle has to wait and wait, but then must leave to perform further commisions. Sometimes the children and teachers have to wait more than an hour until the driver returns to pick them up.
We have been visiting checkpoints for eight years now and we have learned not to seek rational answers -- there is no room for the word "why" in checkpoint-land. And yet, one cannot help asking: Why thus?