Meitar Crossing, Route 60, Hebron, Route 356 & 317, Tue 13.9.11, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
After a fairly long interval, for various reasons, we returned to our post.
Everyone has already crossed to the Israeli side. There’s no line and the “cages” are also empty. Small comfort.
The road is crowded with civilian vehicles; the observation balloon has been lowered and is “parked” at its base in Beit Haggai – which make things seem “normal.”
There are soldiers at the sheep market at Kvasim junction. We’re tired of getting “standard” responses, so we don’t ask. The soldiers were given justifications for their presence there.
The Shimshon battalion mans all the checkpoints and barriers in the city except those surrounding the Cave of the Patriarchs, which are manned by Border Police soldiers.
We see some activity in preparation for 20.9.11 (or maybe that’s just a feeling we have). Groups of soldiers moving around the Gross Square area and Shuhada Street seem to be getting briefed; some have shields against stones attached to the top of their helmets. Additional concertina wire at the checkpoints. The revolving “trap” has been added on the Palestinian side in the area between H1 and H2 at the Pharmacy junction, as well as more and more fences. Barriers and concertina wire has also been added at Curve 160 [we’ll send photos]. Bars have been welded again over the shop doors on Shuhada street.
The youths selling pita, who’ve known this reality since childhood, walk around fearlessly, moving the roadblocks aside so their cart can pass through under the soldiers’ indifferent eyes. Then they go through the magnemometer, remove their belts, cross and continue onward, as if this was the normal route every youth their age anywhere in the world must traverse. We must also remind ourselves of the horror we routinely observe.
No detainees anywhere. The principal and janitor of the Al Ibrahamiyya boys’ school are still walking around the area of the checkpoint to make sure the last of the pupils cross safely. They say that a few minutes before our arrival the children were carefully inspected.
We ask whether they’re planning anything special for the day the establishment of their country is declared; the principal replies that they’re always ready…
We decided to see the new cultural center in Kiryat Arba. We searched for it. We weren’t able to get help from the locals. Apparently they haven’t yet realized that they have such a thing.
OK, it in fact exists (we’ll send photos separately).
A woman from Tene-Omarim ultimately helped us find it.
Route 356, 317
At Zif junction, at the turn to Yatta, reservists are inspecting cars, some of them confirming the sense they’re superfluous here, but there are also those who believe they’re protecting us from attacks by intruding on the Palestinians’ lives. You can only despair.
On the section of the road between Mizpeh Aviga’il and Sussia the roadblocks that had been open in recent years have again been closed.
We drove to see the buildings that had been demolished in Umm el Khir and the tent that was set afire next to Sussia. In Umm el Khir the ruins of a tin shack and a children’s play corner, shoes and various objects strewn around next to the fence of the flourishing settlement of Carmel. We’re told again about the Civil Administration’s savagery and heartlessness. Representatives of the Center for Protecting Lands in Halhul arrived as well. They also came to hear, to see, to document and to report. They, like us, can’t do much more than demonstrate concern (photos will be sent separately).
We came to be with the people of Sussia. N., our friend, says this time the police gave the impression they took it more seriously than before. But GSS personnel also showed up and took advantage of the opportunity – when someone came to testify to the police they invited him to talk to them, “polite and apologetic” about searching him. And then, instead of asking questions relevant to the rioting by settlers, they asked what he thinks about what’s going on in Egypt, and whether he thinks there will be another intifada, etc. The man tried to remind them that the issue is their existence here and the suffering caused by the settlers, so here and there they also asked about that (about one question out of five, he estimates). Bottom line – “our worthy lads” “know their job.”