'Anata-Shuafat, Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Tue 27.12.11, Morning
Idit S., Shira V., Katia (a guest), Anat T. (reporting)
7:20 Sheikh Saed
Palestinian children are on a fortnight's winter holiday, with the exception of those attending institutions of the Waqf -- mostly little ones, as far as we could tell. Even so, things move slowly at the checkpoint. We are told this is because there's a new Company in charge since last week. On our previous shift at Sheikh Saed (Hanna B, Idit S, and myself) we encountered a border policeman who created unnecessarily harsh confrontations with those crossing. Hanna B. complained to the B.P. spokeswoman about his inappropriate behaviour, and we hope the matter has been dealt with.
When we disembark our papers are carefully examined, and we're sent off to fetch Shira's document forgotten in the car. Meanwhile we miss the turning away of a 10 year old : a resident of Abu Dis with birth certificate and school permit, but without the DCO permit, who is not allowed to cross the neighbourhood checkpoint. He fails to meet the regulations twice over: neither a resident of Sheikh Saed, nor the carrier of a DCO permit. We try to persuade the checkpoint commander that a 10-year old whose school-bag has been checked, is not a security threat, and how can he reach the Olive Terminal alone? Unfortunately the child had left by then. The commander retracted a little from his claim that orders are orders are order... but just a little.
8:00 Drive around the Abu Dis area and observation from the Olive Terminal of the expected traffic changes
From the shoddy American Route we turn west to Silwan and drive up Ein Hilweh St. Major municipality work is proceeding on the slope (near the Shiloah spring). It is only in the evening that we learn of the collapse two days ago of the tunnel for an archaeological dig near a mosque, and of the "Peace Now" request to stop all underground digs in Silwan until an exhaustive and independent engineering report of all the tunnels is made. We also learned that today the local committe of the Jerusalem Municipality will consider two building plans submitted by the Elad organisation: a large building in the former Givati parking lot, and the development of "Beit Ha-ma'ayan at the bottom of Silwan. Local residents are protesting. After a short drive around the closed lazarus checkpoint (next to the monastery which houses a kindergarden), we continue to the Olive Terminal to observe the system of new roads breaking out of Az-za'ayyem to Hizmeh through the new intersection under construction opposite Issawiya. We read about it in the piece by Haim Levinson in Friday's Ha-aretz, but it all becomes clearer after a short internet search in the "Ir Amim" site which shows a map of the planned Route 45 from 2009. The idea is to created a separate system of roads for Palestinians, linking the south of the West Bank (Bethlehem) with the north (Ramallah) by means of bridges and tunnels, eliding the roads approaching Jerusalem, and thus allowing checkpoint-free passage for Israeli residents from Ma'aleh Adumim to Jerusalem, and enabling construction in E1 to create urban continuity between these places. See map of roads planned on:
Drive along the new roads, the new Shuafat checkpoint, and Beit Hanina
We drove along the new roads as far as the spot where they are blocked with locked gates. Through a checkpoint and an under-road crossing to As-za'ayyem we drove along Route 45 (the road with a wall in its heart) on the Palestinian side, and found it blocked, but continuing, further on, to Anatot. We then returned through the vehicular crossing in Az-za'ayyem and continued towards French Hill on Route 1 as far as the new roundabout with the turning to Metzudat Adumim. We expect that this is where the road to the new vehicular crossing in Shuafat will pass, channneling Palestinian traffic allowed to enter Jerusalem by car. (Will that include Palestinians holding blue IDs? Probably)
We continued to the new Shuafat checkpoint, although it was already late, to observe morning traffic. The checkpoint was fairly empty, the walk to it and back unreasonably long. From a piece in the "Bamahane" link we learn that from March 2011 this is the site planned to be the largest crossing in the West Bank, built according the demand of the High Court to confirm the route of the separation fence, along which are planned offices of various delegations, government offices and more. See
Meanwhile the military police check documents at the single pedestrian crossing operating, without benefit of x-ray machines. We did not see any representatives of government offices yet, but the squeaky clean toilets were opened especially for our use. In answer to our question whether Paletinians were allowed to enter these premises we were told "only if they desperately need to..."
We ended this survey in Beit Hanina. We drove from the Shuafat checkpoint to Pisgat Ze'er, turned to Beit Hanina, and at the first roundabout north of the Light Rail terminal we found a roundabout from which the road will lead from Pisgat Ze'ev to the Begin highway (continuing from Route 443). We reahed the large interchange under construction, the route changed because of one home which gets in the way and cannot be moved. We reflected on how all these plans -- proceding stealthily and silently through various committees -- surprise us, and eventually come true, unlike dreams of a better life for both out peoples.