Abu Dis, Sheikh Saed, Wed 24.11.10, Morning
6:45 Sheikh Sa'ed and Jabel Mukkaber (the new settlers' house)
A long line today, both workers and children. When we arrived, there was only a border policeman at the booth, and a security guard -- checks of bags one by one, of both children and workers, and writing down all the names slows down the process.
We complain to the Humanitarian Centre as well as to the b.p. area commander, A. Although A. tells us there are security issues of which we know nothing, the situation improves gradually; first the children and pupils are allowed to cross without checks or registration of names, then the line of adults disappears within 30 minutes.
Strangely, none of the residents know the location of the house in Jabel Mukhaber whose occupants were evicted yesterday in favour of the Elad settlers. The answer comes from Hagit Ofran of Peace Now who directs us to the High Commissioner's Palace promenade where we turn left into the populated wadi. On the way we meet some 10 stalwart men (of the Elad post-combat type) getting into the cars that have come to collect them From Hagit we learn that the previous night Palestinians had gathered around the house, and the police had not wanted to leave security guards.
After a search on the slopes of the Mount of Evil Council, we find it. A few policemen are looking for it together with ourselves. The house from which all the families were evicted looks new: three floors abutting on the neighbouring houses. No one anwers when we knock on the door, and on the other side we meet the settlers on the balcony facing the view. The visible rooms are full of barbed wire. They call us "Israel haters". "Because of women like you, my brother was killed in the West Bank". We ask "Why?" Why have you come to be here in the midst of Palestinians? Is this a suitable place for a bunch of Jewish settlers to live? How can an agreement on Jerusalem be reached? The anwer is: "The land of Israel is ours."
The neighbours tell us that the man who sold to the settlers had sold only 1/4 of the house, and is no longer alive, but the entire building was evacuated after years of contention which ended in the High Court. Hagit tells us that these stories are always extremely complicated, and it's never clear who sold how much. What is clear is that a new settlement is on the way, strategically located in the chain of settlements intended to circle the Old City.
8:30 Shuafat Refugee Camp
We decided to visit because we had not done so for a long time. The hour is late and there are only a few pedestrians crossing. Vehicles too are sparse. Work on the large new checkpoint is progressing, and what catches the eye are the lanes for vehicles similar to the Az-Za'ayyem crossing. There is also a building, not large, on which Palestinians are working. Is this the plan to separate Palestinian from Jewish traffic, and the solution to the traffic jams of Ma'aleh Edumim?