Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Tarqumiya, Thu 30.12.10, Morning
.Translator: Charles K.
06:30 – 10:30
By 06:45 all the laborers have crossed. No visits of prisoners’ relatives today.
Quiet and almost completely deserted. Because of the weather?
At the turn to Samu’a – a flying checkpoint. A long line of delayed cars.
We stop to find out what’s going on. Reservists from the armored corps carefully inspect both cars and passengers. One comes over to us and politely inquires who we are. In response to my question he says they received an “urgent” alert this morning and they have to do the checks. Since the cars are released quickly, we continue on our way.
An army jeep is also parked at the turn to A’abdeh.
Traffic is light until Hebron, and there’s almost no military presence.
Also looks much more deserted today, except for army jeeps near the worshippers’ route and at Curve 160.
Many soldiers at all the entrances to the Jewish quarter, but we see no unusual activity. No detainees at any checkpoint, nor in the area of the Cave of the Patriarchs. The stormy weather seems to dissuade everyone.
Two young women from the Ecumenicals report that everything’s calm today and tell us they met Hannah Barg in Jerusalem.
There’s also a greater number of military jeeps on this road: at the turn to Shayukh and the turn to the humanitarian crossing, but no one’s being delayed.
In the wake of complaints I received about relatives of prisoners being delayed for long periods of time, sometimes so long that by the time they crossed it was too late to visit the prison, I asked to meet with Tzion, the checkpoint manager. He willingly agreed and met us together with Dudi, his deputy.
He updated us about how the crossing operates.
- Twice a week it’s possible to transfer automobile ownership.
- About 400 items of merchandise cross daily. He says the balance favors exports from Hebron to Israel – Israel imports more here than it exports. Merchandise for Gaza also goes through here.
- About 4000 people cross every Sunday, and about 3000 on the other days.
- There are 8 stations for checking IDs and biometry, and 4 magnemometers.
- There’s also a body scanner for those for whom the magnemometer indicates something suspicious. The scanner replaces the need for a pat-down.
Tzion again emphasizes that, because they want to avoid intrusive physical examinations as much as possible, since they’re very aware of people’s sensitivities, they’ve developed a procedure enabling people anywhere in the crossing to quickly be inspected by the scanner. Today, instead of 40 people being patted-down every month, only one or two are more rigorously checked. He’s very proud of his system and believes he’s doing as much as possible to ease the crossing. He adds that people arrive in a way that avoids too much congestion in the morning.
In response to our questions about the physical conditions in the area where people wait beneath the canopy, he says he’s received a renovation budget that includes adding fans, upgrading the toilets, etc.
- Tzion was surprised to hear the complaints by the prisoners’ relatives. He says that the Red Cross staff didn’t tell him anything about it. They can call him directly at any time. There’s no reason for delays because, at most, only two buses come, and also because they’re set up to handle them without delay while the merchants cross.
We get the impression it’s important to him to prove they’re trying to deal with the difficulties in the best possible manner from the perspective of those crossing there, and apparently there was a one-time hitch that he’ll look into
In the future we’ll check to make sure that the picture is as good as he described, and he’s always willing to meet with us.