Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Silwan, Wed 13.10.10, Morning
Judging by the emptiness on the hill above the checkpoint -- where groups of boys and girls congregated over the High Holidys because they were not granted their permits by the administration, and were not always allowed to cross to school -- it would appear that these problems are over. But others remain, the kind of which we wrote about to the Civilian Administration. For instance, a general question: why do pupils under the age of 16 require a special permit, and why is a letter from the school they attend not sufficient?
The Civilian Administration has not yet replied.
Otherwise, crossing is quick, but we must not forget all the restrictions imposed on residents of the neighbourhood who carry blue ID's (to say nothing of green ID's whose owners can go nowhere for any purpose without the most precise official permits), restrictions such as on travel by car to Jerusalem, the impossibility of reaching Sawahara, no crossing at the checkpoint for visitors from other neighbourhoods including Jabel Mukhabar. In all these cases they are required to drive via the distant Zeitim Crossing -- 40 minutes over mostly bad roads.
We felt compelled to inspect the blockages in this explosive area today. All the way from the south the road is strewn with large and medium-sized rocks.
Despite the minister's declaration about sending in large numbers of reinforcements and mistaravim we did not see any massive presence in the streets -- perhaps he hasn't gotten round to it yet, or perhaps we failed to see them because the soldiers were disguised.
Work on Ein Hilweh Str. continues, and traffic is allowed only into the neighbourhood. Two policemen stand above, at the intersection with the road beneath the city walls, but they don't check or stop vehicles leaving the neighbourhood.
Near the City of David, in addition to the security guard, there is a policeman and a border policeman, as well as two private guards (of the municipality). They are in charge of turning back vehicles wishing to enter the neighbourhood. This included, while we were there, an enormous security vehicle belonging to the settlers (at our expense!) which was turned back, to enter from another street to the west. Judging by the intensity of the arguments with the guards, and the responses of the private guards, it was only the presence of the assertive policeman that prevented free passage.
To conclude: everything appeared no different from the previous week, only more quiet (surely the residents must be very frightened after yesterday's visit), but the situation can change in an instant, and there is enough man-power to block all exits and entrances to the neighbourhood.
Clean as always; empty as always; the female soldiers rather less loud; only one passage open and no more needed for the present -- but the routes keep changing (#1 closes, move to #2, a few minutes later #2 closes, move back to #1. Why? Move to #1 and no questioning).
Two new signs have been put up: one in Arabic directing pupils to cross at #3 in the morning, and another to the DCO at #4 saying that the checkpoint's policy is to provide service. (See photos).
The magnometer beeps continuously , also when a 4-year old with no bag crosses, and she turns back to her mother in embarrassment, not knowing what to do next. Should she remove the ribbon in her hair? But the female soldiers are relentless -- for security reasons no doubt...