Qalandiya, Tue 27.7.10, Afternoon

Yael I. Orit Y. and Ruth O. (reporting)

 Givat Zeev CP, Road 443 from Ofer Army Base till Modi'in and the CP of the "Institutionalization of the Kiryat Sefer Passage"
We started off at the Givat Zeev CP, two or three Israeli cars stood in front of the CP - either belonging to the soldiers or to the civilian guards. Only a few people passed through the sleeves from the direction of Givat Zeev on their way home to their villages - they crossed without any superfluous delays. On the whole this checkpoint which now also boasts with its observation tower and  allows for the passage of cars, looks as if it is far too big for its purpose.
After the literary description in last week's Haaretz we decided  to return and have a look at Road 443; the construction of the new Checkpoint  opposite the Bitunia CP is continuing apace and here too it looks as if the cost of the ‘monster' being built is not related to its usefulness. Along Road 443 there are electrified barbed wire fences with barbed wire coils on top and in parts even walls that hide whatever occurs behind them. After a few kilometers across the village of Khirbet El Misbakh there is another new CP through which Palestinians can access Road 443 in order to drive a short while to reach another CP, across from the Kharbata CP, the Beit Sira CP. Altogether as a result of the High court order the Palestinians are allowed to drive about 15 km on this road and even this only after going through two investigations at two checkpoints. We asked a soldier who approached us whether many Palestinians make use of this option and he replied that not many, even though it constitutes somewhat of a shortcut. At he Kharbata junction the sign that whoever crosses the road without using the designated pedestrian crossing will be punished, still exists. Of course there is no such designated crossing. Therefore workers that are dropped off by their employers have no choice but to cross the very busy and dangerous road to get to their villages and risk being punished.
We continued into road 446 until we reached the point with the interesting name of "Institutionalization of the Kiryat Sefer Passage" - it is difficult to understand its meaning and even more the amount of land this ‘institutionalization' needs. A huge tract of land is being evened as if it will be used for an airport. A few signs designating future roundabouts demonstrate that this is not the case. At the far end of this enormous plot there is a checkpoint to which the workers go down after having been dropped off by their employers or taxis. We counted sixteen men which rolled out of a small van onto a path full of potholes towards the checkpoint where they have to show their papers. From there they have to ascend a steep slope towards a meeting point where other cabs are waiting to take them home. The workers were pleased with our presence and even the soldiers at the entrance to the ‘institutionalization' were tolerant after we had introduced ourselves.