Sheikh Sa'ed and Qalandiya, Monday 21.2.2011, PM

Natanya G. and Phyllis W. (reporting)

We drove to Qalandiya through Jebel Mukaber and Sheikh Sa'ed (a section of Jebel Mukaber that has been designated as not in Jerusalem although Jebel Mukaber itself is).  In the beginning we followed the signs to Nof Zion (an Israeli settlement), which was the only place signed although the Palestinian neighborhoods are much larger.  At the bottom of the hill, where the road turns off to Sheikh Sa'ed, we saw heavy earth moving equipment eating away at the scenery.  Our immediate reaction was that Moskowitz was building another settlement, so we got out of the car and went to ask.  It was relief to be told that the equipment was actually there to build a soccer/football field.

We arrived at Sheikh Sa'ed at about 14:00 and entered the neighborhood on foot, as do the residents with permits or Jerusalem IDs, passing through the turnstile in the separation fence.  Several taxis were parked just beyond the fence and one of the drivers offered to take us to see the road that "connects" the neighborhood to other Palestinian villages that have been fenced out of Jerusalem.  This, the only road in and out of Sheikh Sa'ed open to Palestinians without permits (and also the only road via which groceries and produce can be delivered and ambulances arrive), had been closed the previous day because of the heavy rains which caused flooding of the open sewage ditch that is the Stream of Kidron which drains the sewage of such Jerusalem neighborhoods as Silwan (City of David) and Jebel Mukaber into the Dead Sea.  Residents had phoned the municipality only to be told that it did not deal with such problems on the West Bank.  Eventually the force of the accumulated water was enough to clear the blockage and the road.  Our driver told us that deliveries of basics such as bread and milk only get through two or three times a week.  When we asked if the Palestinian Authority had been approached about improving the road, we were told that a lawyer had advised against this as in that case the IDF might close the checkpoint (through which we had entered) and everyone, including those with blue IDs, would then have to take the "Palestinian" road which of course means a very long detour.

We drove on to Qalandiya, arriving at 15:40.  The CP was cold and depressingly dirty as usual.  Two passageways were open and each generally had about 20 people waiting in line during our shift.  The lines moved fairly quickly.

We remained at Qalandiya until 5 PM and returned to Jerusalem via Lil/Jabba and Hizmeh CPs.  At Lil a BP car was checking the papers of cars travelling from A-Ram towards Adam junction.  The regular soldiers on duty were responsible for traffic in the other direction.