Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Tue 19.10.10, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
At 6:40am, the relatives of prisoners go through in three buses. The laborers have already crossed. The young man from Hebron who works for the Red Cross coordinating the crossing – wearing a white shirt, looks like a tourist, a real stud – asks me how it was in Australia and talks about emigrating. The market outside is open as usual and there are many more cars in the parking lot than there were last time I was here.
I wonder to myself whether the economic situation in Palestine has improved, and hope, for their sake, it has. The fences keeping people in line in the waiting area are waist-high, and people can escape the line if necessary (if they feel nauseous or sick). Much more humane than at Tarquimyya, where the fences are like huge pens. Trucks carrying sand go through as before, the parking lot is larger, as is the inspection sheds. A real “terminal.” The dust covering the Middle East and the architecture of occupation cast a shadow on the thought that perhaps, one day…
It’s obvious that the road is no longer an apartheid route and many Palestinian cars – some, appearing new – are on it. A temporary checkpoint at the entrance to Dahariyya: an army jeep with four soldiers, two of whom stop cars, often also inspecting ID papers. They let some cars go through. They’re from a combat engineer unit, the commander a lieutentant.
What’s most obvious, and new to me, is the pillbox that’s been built on the hill between Deir Razak and Abda – the spy balloon next to it – the highest hill in the area. Arik Sharon’s vision is coming true. “Big brother” watches day and night. The settlements are all on the hilltops, the Palestinian localities down below. At the turn to what was once the Adurayyim combat engineers base (the Palestinians called it the “Majnuna”) there’s a large sign on the road – to Negohot. We didn’t take that road because there’s the usual warning – Entry to Area A Prohibited – but apparently entry isn’t prohibited to settlers. The road doesn’t appear in the road atlas, but its essentially an east-west road connecting Route 60 and Route 638.
Dura Elfawwar: The crossing is open and there’s no flying checkpoint.
Kvasim junction: The sheep market is open, and we suddenly realize where the name comes from [“Kvasim” is Hebrew for “sheep”]. The gate there is also open and cars go through without hindrance.
The entrance to Kiryat Arba: Seven months ago no soldier was stationed at the entrance; now there is one: The guard in the booth and Muhammad know each other, and he lets us go through without any problems. The entry road is being widened, and instead of a sliding gate there’s one that’s raised and lowered.The outpost to the right of the road seems to be expanding. The trailers changed color, and now they’re wooden structures painted a sort of orange. They’re visible from farther away. One looks demolished but the others – I counted five – stand in place.
A jeep is parked at the entrance to Beit Ha’meriva, but we don’t see any detainees. Another jeep is parked at the entrance to the Jabel Muhar neighborhood. Soldiers from the Lavie battalion are in charge now.
Curve 160: The gate is closed as usual, and children go around it on both sides on their way to school.
No one is crossing at the Pharmacy checkpoint and beyond it, on the road leading to the Shouhada Street, there’s another position: yet another pillbox which, seven months ago, was empty but is now manned by a solitary soldier. There’s another position next to Beit Hadassah, with a single soldier.
Tarpa”t checkpoint: A few Palestinians greet us, Muhammad receives a present – a strand of prayer beads – and an army jeep is parked at the checkpoint.
Up at the Tel Rumeida checkpoint the soldiers are sitting on the curb, and next to the settlement at Tel Rumeida another solitary soldier is in position. Another army jeep is parked next to the pillbox above the Ashkenazi cemetery, the children’s clinic and the gynecologist are open – we leave the car there and walk to visit Michael, Tzipi’s son.
On our way back, we pass by the Patriarchs' Tombs' Cave – no detainees there either.
Despair hangs like a black cloud over this place.
Shuyukh–Hebron: The stones blocking the entrance are arranged in an amazingly well-ordered manner.On our way back, below Beit Haggai, we see, written in black on a blue concrete cube next to the checkpoint, “Nothing happens here, nothing…”
Also on our way back, below Othniel – a bus belonging to the Hebron Hills regional council is stuck, three soldiers guarding it from fifty meters away.
A Palestinian family is picking olives. For a moment we feared the settlers were once again “exacting a price,” but the phony calm of the area hadn’t been broken.
Sansana: At the checkpoint on our way back they opened the back door of the car to make sure we weren’t smuggling Palestinians. They checked our ID cards as ususal.