Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Silwan, Mon 29.8.11, Morning
Idit S., Anat T. (reporting)
6:45 Sheikh Saed
The checkpoint is tranquil. Some 10 crossed during the 30 minutes of our stay. Conversations with residents revolved around the exact date of Id-al-Fitr, as well as the upcoming September events. We were unable to understand the differences around various versions of the date of the holiday. Some claimed that the authority lies with the religious elders in Saudi Arabia, others insisted that the Quadi is supposed to see the birth of the moon (i.e. its first appearance after astronomical date), as it appears in Palestine. Nobody knew just when the holiday begins, even though, when pressed, they said "tomorrow" (Tuesday). In any event, they all said that there was no increase in severity of investigations at the checkpoint since the attack in Eilat, since it's severe enough as it is. For example: one of the residents we spoke to has a daughter whose fiance is from Beit Hanina, and he's unable to cross back to Jerusalem via Sheikh Saed because this is only a "local" checkpoint.
With respect to September, nothing much was said, they await develpments. We did not detect any special sense of pressure on the part of those we spoke to.
We drove all the way along the American route to Ras al Amud to check the signs regarding land appropriation for the ring road. The signs have all disappeared. We know that "Bamakom" have submitted petitions regarding the illegality of the announced appropriations, since there is no valid over-all plan for all sections of the road. Perhaps that convinced someone to remove the signs. Also to give up? Time will tell.
Busy traffic of buses carrying religious and overseas tourists along the Wall and close to City of David. From the fence abutting on the byzantine section we filmed a sign about a new "pools route." Interesting, since according to Wikipedia, the entrance to the pools was near Robinson's Arch and not under the Al-Aqsa mosque.
From Wikipedia: "The archaeological Park, Jerusalem"
The stairway to the cross-over [Robinson's Arch which led to the Temple square -A.T.] was close to a large stone building which has been almost entirely dismantled, leaving almost no traces. This building served as a purification centre for the many pilgrims coming to Jerusalem, and it contained many pools. Those at ground level were all carved into the rock, which is why they have survived. The discovery of many pools indicates their extensive use in the days of the Temple. In addition to the pools, there is a well preserved system of carved channels and pipes which provided water to the pools, apparently by way of nearby aqueducts".
Since our visit, Idit has sent me publications from the City of David spokesperson about "Slichot" tours along the "pools route". Apparently all the preparations we saw in the area of the archeological park under Al-Aqsa are related to these tours, and the passage will be through the new tunnel from the City of David to the Archaeological Park.
7:45 Zeitim Crossing
Here too the crossing is surprisingly tranquil. Numerous bottles of water placed at the entrance and inside the checkpoint catch our eye. The reason for these piles: many arrive very early and wait in line (the checkpoint opens at 5 a.m., the residents say), they drink their water until they reach the crossing, then leave the empty bottles as they cross over for another day of fasting.
Although there are almost no people, and no pressure, a mother and infant are trapped in the turnstile and, despite our many calls for help, the female soldier prefers to ignore them for about 4 minutes while she completes the investigation of the woman preceding them. We tried to comment but she ignored us. Are the Palestinians not human beings? Is not a Palestinian mother with her infant worthy of the kind of attention which take their anxiety and discomfort into consideration?