Idit S., Ileil (guest), Anant T. (reporting)
6:45 Sheikh Saed
We encounter posters carrying a second announcement (the due date is past) about land expropriation for public use (see photo). We check with Sari from the "Bimkom" lobby and find out that on Thursday (28.7.11) there will be a meeting of the area committee in the matter of the ring road which will lead from T'koah to the Old City via the fringes of Jabel Mukhaber and Sheikh Saed. The meeting will discuss the recommendations of the independent investigator who inquired into the many objections to the ring road. The committee is not bound to accept her recommendations, which generally required several sittings, but this is the last check prior to statutory approval. We will track updates from Sari.
Idit remains below, outside the checkpoint, to observe traffic and passage to and fro, while Ileil and I climb up the hill. There's a line of some 10 persons, mostly men. Those crossing are being registered, which of course slows down the line, but not significantly, and soon all have crossed.
We chat briefly with the new guard who has no idea who these strange creatures in front of him (ourselves) might be. He's quickly summoned to order, followed by a display (apparently for our benefit) of camaraderie between the checkpoint personnel and a crossing Palestinian. One of the drivers offers to give us a tour of Sheikh Saed, and we promise to comply in the future.
We drive through heavy stench from the Kidron. In the past we were told that sewage repair work was interrupted by a request from the wadi residents because the pipes were laid in their cultivated land. There are no workmen in Ein Hilweh Street, but piles of paving stones are still awaiting. At the top of the street there is no checkpoint, and no checks, and residents park along the street. On the other hand, in the section close to the City of David and the Givati parking lot, there is digging, and a tractor busy at work.
7:30 Abu Dis area: Cliff Hotel, the (former) Pishpash
Nothing has changed -- the same neglect, an eyesore to those who remember the Hotel's former glory -- the fences, the military police, and the gate intended for crossing to a couple of settlers' houses on the hilltop.
Olive Terminal 7:45
A group of holiday-makers are on their way to Haifa; most are armed with permits. A 13-year-old boy without a permit is allowed to cross. Then a 16-year-old who looks younger, with a Palestinian ID but without a permit is turned back. Our efforts, combined with Hannah Barag and checkpoint commander, Dudu N., to arrange a special permit, are of no avail. The matter requires at least 2 days of checking, we are told. It appears that the group decided to attach him to his aunt at the last minute in the hope that he could cross with the rest. The group claim that they will all return to Jericho rather than send the boy back alone. Three quarters of an hour later the bus is still waiting, and it is not clear what the group will decide. A pity. By the way, the attempt to approve the entry through the DCO (still closed at 8:40, and opened only at the order of the checkpoint commander), involves my own and Ileil's entry into the DCO space (from outside). We are immediately banished.
8:45 Wadi Nar (from Al-Ezariya)
A traffic jam before Az-Za'ayyem from the direction of Ma'aleh Adumim. At Wadi Nar we were happy to see all the cars indeed using the one-way detour at a tangent to the old Elad road and going down to the Al Ezariya road, instead of straight into the dangerous descent.
The attempt to reach our usual observation point next to the "yellow" wall proved very scary. We were met by a pack of hysterically barking dogs, one baring its teeth and attempting to attack, despite efforts to drive it away. These are all "checkpoint dogs", strays from the area fed by the checkpoint soldiers. The dogs, for their part, treat the checkpoint as their own private (military?) property which no stranger may cross. The commander was quickly summoned to our assistance, to pacify the threatening dog, but he too found it difficult. Clearly others who move in there -- e.g. detained Palestinians, passengers who disembark from their vehicles to relieve themselves or stretch their legs, etc. -- encounter the vicious pack. The dogs should certainly not be there, even if they provide a sense of security for the soldiers stationed in a solitary checkpoint in the midst of strictly Palestinian territory. And although we cannot, properly speaking, complain about stray dogs in this space (because the solution is obvious), this time we did complain in the hope that Hannah Barag will submit one on behalf to the Civil Administration.
The traffic jam in the direction of the tunnel connecting Ma'aleh Adumim and Jerusalem has dispersed. We try to figure out what last Tuesday's shift (Ruth O., Ilana D., and others) reported about Palestinian traffic directed to the Anata checkpoint, but fail to understand, and would appreciate explanations.