Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Tue 21.12.10, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
06:45 - The laborers have already crossed to the Israeli side and are walking to their employers’ vehicles. Two busloads of prisoners’ relatives are waiting under the canopy..
Full of life. Many vehicles and many children walking to school along the side of the road. An army jeep again parked at the turn to Samu’a , again vehicles are inspected but not detained.
Below Beit Haggai, on the blocked road to Hebron’s southern entrance, an army jeep waits, despite the roadblock and the concertina wire.
At Kvasim junction – a sheep market. The soldiers continue to observe people’s everyday life..
At the entrance to Kiryat Arba: Work continues on “Derekh HaBanim” to the Cave of the Patriarchs. It also seems that construction of the Nofei Mamreh neighborhood is nearing completion. The smiling guard at the gate greets us: “Congratulations – you’re ten years old, right?!" "How did you know?" “Galei Zahal” [the army radio station]. “Are you pleased?" “When people are happy, I’m happy!” he replies. Is the Messiah coming? Peace talks with the settlers are possible.
Soldiers everywhere in the area of the worshippers route and Curve 160.
CPT observers at the Pharmacy junction report that the children’s backpacks haven’t been inspected recently. We also see that it’s all routine there. On the other hand, they say there are many nighttime searches, during which children are picked up and handcuffed. It looks as if the settlers are renovating the deserted market opposite Gross Square with the intention of reopening it. We should keep track of what’s going on.
The remaining checkpoints in the Shouhada Street and Tel Rumeida – the usual despair, but no particular problems.
Cave of the Patriarchs – Border Police soldiers have detained four people. We wait to see what happens. Two are released immediately, and the two others wait a long time. I ask the commander why the long delay. He (surprisingly) is polite and replies patiently: “Routine check. This is a security zone, you know.” We keep waiting. Meanwhile Abed, from the souvenir shop, offers us tea. TIPH observers and CPT members have also gathered there. Like us, they all want to know what will happen to the detainees. Everyone’s drinking tea and talking. A long time passes, and I hear the two detainees explaining to the Border Police soldier something about thousands of dinars. I approach again to ask what’s going on, and why they have to wait so long – it’s already been half an hour. The commander, a Druze, remains genial and polite (he respects an older woman). He explains that the two came from Bethlehem to collect a large debt from someone in Hebron, and since they’re not from Hebron, when they were entered into the computer “someone” required a more thorough check, and now it’s out of his hands. He says he’s familiar with most of those crossing and usually uses his authority and doesn’t detain people for no reason. He’s surprisingly sensitive to the situation and wants to know how we feel, do we succeed in solving anything, how our acquaintances feel about what we’re doing. I lay out our entire “I believe.” His patience, interest, attention and question go beyond anything we’ve experienced here in the past with Border Police soldiers. Meanwhile, a man passes by whom the soldier identifies as the debtor’s brother. He tells him that those two are looking for his brother. The man seems embarrassed, and asks the soldier not to allow them to cross and reach his brother. He hurries away. One of the detainees saw what was occurring and asks the soldier whether the man would send his brother here so they could meet him. “Yes, yes – sure!” says the soldier. “He said he’d send his brother to you…”
It turns out that the Border Police soldiers also serve as mediators in the context of the structure of “normal” relationships in this abnormal city, in which every daily action of non-Jews is subject to inspection, oversight and reporting. And the settlers? They speed dangerously everywhere in their cars and stare at us threateningly.