Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Sun 26.6.11, Afternoon
An uneventful ride up to Hebron. There are new caravans visible at the settlement opposite Kiryat Arba and Federman (prominent settler) seems to be back in his field again.
Entering the city all seems quiet: Curve 160, the Pharmacy checkpoint etc. At Kikar Gross, opposite the old market, a group of soldiers stops a youth but quickly release him. In response to our approach they are reasonably polite and inform us that they belong to the Shimshon Brigade - a brigade that often works undercover desguised as Palestinians, they are now in charge in Hebron.. Before our curious eyes they entered one of the empty warehouses at the market and practiced breaking and entering with drawn weapons. At Tel-Rumeida we detoured across the no-man's land among ancient olive trees to the house where M. (Zipi's son) used to live and which includes a community center, all this in close proximity to the Jewish settlement.
As we approached, a soldier guarding the women and children liesurely disporting themselves on the lawn, complete with a small pool, challenged us as to our intentions but soon let us continue on our way. The settlers seem to have plenty of water for their lawn but, alas, short of garbage bins as the Palesinian side of their fence is littered with clearly Jewish rubbish - Hebrew newspapers and wrappings and goodness knows what else.
At the checkpoint below the settlement. a broadly smiling soldier warns/threatens us with the dangers that lie in wait for unwary observers.
On the way out of town we visit briefly with Abed where we meet a pleasant missionary who hands us tracts on Islam in Hebrew. On the worshippers' route we stop at the stable and the owner confirms that he still has to "host" the army every shabbat. On the road to Kiryat Arba more shops are open than usual and there are even a few clients, including some who are evidently settlers. Mostly though, shopkeepers are lounging on their doorsteps with their cronies.
En route home we visit, again briefly, the settlement of Estamoa opposite Shima'a, but think better of it as a rather unfriendly soldier is keeping watch. From the road it appears that there are some new caravans there.
At the Sansana-Meitar checkpoint at around 18:30 very few people are crossing and only one checking station is open. We ask to be allowed to enter and, after consultation, are given a whirlwind tour. The place is indeed empty and reasonably clean and tidy.
It is as if someone has cast a spell over this whole Hebron area, waiting for some prince to come and awaken the sleeping beauties, or in some cases (no names mentioned), what a very young friend of mine used to call the "sleeping uglies"...