Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tue 13.4.10, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
06:30 – 11:30
7:45 On our way to Hebron. The passageway is already empty; all the laborers are on the Israeli side. No family visits to prisoners. There’s considerable infrastructure work underway.
On our way back from Hebron, we asked to introduce ourselves to Motti, who’s the new manager of the crossing. He willingly agreed, and shows us that work is well underway to improve the conditions at the crossing for laborers coming through. For example, there will be an additional inspection passageway. He promises many changes in the near future. He understands very well the difficulties faced by the Palestinians, but he says that conditions in the parking area and the food sellers create disruptions, garbage and safety issues that must be dealt with. We agree to keep in touch, and contact him if necessary.
We say that we hope that transferring control of the checkpoint to civilian, professional and humane management will prove itself the right decision.
1. The situation of people living next to the worshippers’ route.
2. Kiryat Arba is expanding at the expense of farmers living next to it.
Hebron seemed normal this morning. The occupation’s routine. Nahal soldiers have been manning all the checkpoints and roadblocks in the city since the beginning of the week. We’re told that they’ll spend seven months here… Is that because someone in the army decided that, because the location is so problematic, it’s better to assign better soldiers for a longer period of time? Or maybe I’m just naïve – to believe that the army is thinking about what’s good for the Palestinians?
Pharmacy checkpoint: The children cross with almost no delays. A CPT member tells us that only two bags were opened today, unlike Sunday, when he counted 25 bags being inspected. But it’s too soon for celebrations. An officer suddenly emerges from the booth and orders the soldier standing outside to check with a hand-held metal detector all the males who passed through the magnemometer inside. “Irfa idak – raise your hands,” he says to them, and checks them one by one.
Whatever caused the beeping was just some metal object, and they’re sent on their way.
“They look like children,” says the man from CPT, referring to the soldiers. “They really are children,” I answer. “But just look at what they’re ordered to do.”
The Cave of the Patriarchs is quiet. Neither deafening music nor visitors.
It’s also routine along the Shouhadah Street and at Tel Rumeida.
Tzion route: On our way out of the city, not far from Beit HaMeriva, more or less opposite Bassam’s grocery, Border Police soldiers have detained two men. The soldiers hold their documents, surrounded by soldiers with drawn weapons. We got out of the car. “What happened?" I ask. “Routine,” the soldier answers. “Don’t speak to them!” roars his commander from across the street. We wait. Wonder of wonders: the detainees are released, the soldiers depart. Suddenly a man appears who says he lives there, but his front door faces the worshippers’ route. He says that since before Pesach, until now, the army locked the door and forbids the family to use it. Nor is his 90-year old mother, who’s in a wheelchair, allowed to use it. So how do they leave the house? They go around, through the neighbor’s house. He gives me his name and I promise to try and help. “I’ll try; I may not succeed,” I say. “I know, but I thank you anyway.”
Another man comes from his shop, located near where the men were detained. “Lucky you showed up. Sometimes they detain people for hours, for no reason. They saw you and left immediately,” he says. “Has it happened often, recently?” we ask. “Yes, suddenly they show up, shouting, chasing us out of the shop, searching. They did it today also: they pushed the two of them out of the shop, shouting at them. It’s lucky you showed up,” they repeat.
We left Hebron and Kiryat Arba and turned right (south).
200 meters from the gas station-like the home and fields of ‘Ata Jaber. Usually we buy vegetables from him that have just been picked (sometimes we also helped him). This morning he’s standing by the side of the road, next to Jeff Halper, and a Spanish volunteer from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (NGO), who want to help. ‘Ata says that his land on the other side of the road has already been expropriated, but not before people from the Israel Lands' Administration, settlers and Civil Administration staff showed up repeatedly, damaged the irrigation lines, uprooted seedlings and destroyed his water reservoir, claiming that he was stealing water. He hasn’t had water for 50 days, and all his work and livelihood is being destroyed. He’s been told that if he relinquishes all his land, they won’t demolish his house. He shows us the large settlement opposite, on the other side of the road. “They don’t demolish that!” The “Nofei Mamreh” neighborhood must expand, and it already abuts his field. These are agricultural lands on both sides of Route 60, next to, and opposite, Kiryat Arba.What’s there to say: Those with a vision of Greater Israel continue actively to uproot everything that isn’t Jewish. The plans are being implemented right before our eyes…