Bethlehem - CP 300, Etzion DCL, Walaje, Ein Juwaize, Cremisan. Thursday PM, 24.11.2011
After having read numerous reports re the advancement of the wall in Walaja we decided to inspect the situation. We drove via the tunnels and turned at the Hussan roundabout where we noted a very large number of cabs and vans. Needless to say that the underpass towards El Khader has not improved by the rains, but the army doesn’t let the population pave this steep and dangerous slope. The construction of the extension of Har Gilo is continuing apace and many cars of Palestinian contractors are parked outside the entrance of the settlement. There is a wall coming up between the road and the new houses. In Walaja we first drove down towards the mosque and beyond and saw on our left the preparations for the wall and the destruction of the magnificent landscape.
We then returned to the top and drove down towards Ein Juwaize and right to where we had seen the archeological excavations. Many workers and heavy equipment is being used to build a tunnel next to the house of O. which will be totally fenced in. One of the workers said that it all costs ‘a lot of money’ – obviously! We turned right and drove along the wall and its fortifications all the way up to Har Gilo – an unbelievable sight with its fortifications and security road.
We returned and took the road to Cremisan since it was still open and soon will be beyond the wall and off-limits to us. Suddenly we entered another world – Toscana with its fresh green after the heavy rains. The vines had almost dropped their yellow leaves and the old beautiful monastery with its peaceful grounds reminded us of times past when many Israelis used to visit. A friendly worker explained to us that they are now producing two new kinds of wine and are quite successful.
Back to reality we found that by continuing along the excavated new road of the fence we were able to reach the checkpoint which is for Israelis only. We decided to turn around and to drive via the tunnel checkpoint where we saw a sign stating: EXERCISE – EXERCISE - Please follow directions given by the security personnel. Since we had to take the right lane, exiting from the direction of Beit Jalla, we were properly scrutinized and our ID’s were checked even after we had identified ourselves as Machsom Watch. It was our intention to proceed to the Etzion DCL, but when we saw the line on the way back and knowing that they close early on Thursdays, we gave up.
Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300: at Bethlehem - CP 300 all workers passed quickly. A number of workers were sitting along the curb across from the CP and we wondered why they were not going home. It turned out they work at night at the tunnel of the new rail from Modi’in to Jerusalem and were waiting to be picked up by the contractor.