Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Mon 9.1.12, Morning
Translated by Jenny L.
Strong winds blowing; very little traffic on Route 60. At the foot of Beit Haggai, the entrance to the southern approaches to Hebron has for some time been blocked with stone blocks. In the last year they also added a barbed wire fence, as if anyone could get through this blockade. This morning the fence has been folded back to the side of the road and soldiers in an armored vehicle are on guard there. "Who or what are you guarding?" "We don't know," they answer.
We decided today to travel in the direction of Tekoa, which means turning east at the entrance to Sa'ir and to continue on to Tekoa, toward Jerusalem. We went into Hebron on the way back.
Route 3517 - Route 3670
The road is pretty and silent. A section of it is in fact the continuation of Route 356. Further on, the road leading according to the sign to the veteran settlements Meizad/Asphar which looks to be well established and not far from it, the settlement 'Pnei Kedem', where they are still living in caravans. On a hilltop nearby caravans are to be seen, which aroused our interest. The track was very rough and fearing for our vehicle, our driver parked at the side of the road. All at once we noticed a group of soldiers at the top of the hill. We approached them, in the hope of getting answers to our questions. They are reserve soldiers, tolerant and smiling. "Ah, you're from Machsom Watch!! I'm for you!" exclaims the reservist with the biggest smile. "No. I didn't mean that, I'm just fooling around. On the contrary!" he continues. "What are you doing here," we ask. "Guarding the road" "What is there to guard?" "That there won't be any problems, any penetrations," they reply. "What's on the hill?" we ask. "We don't know," they answer. "Good and obedient" soldiers like these draw out our anger about the occupation. They quietly listen without saying anything. They explain where the settlements seen on the sign are to be found and we drive on to see them. They are located on hills at a high elevation from which all the surroundings can be seen. The military base is located immediately adjoing Meizad. Again we see the symbiosis the authorities have so cleverly created. The fact is again evident that everyone in these places is here with the Government's blessing. The signs indicate that the road continues to the Etzion Bloc.
We returned to the road leading to Tekoa, all the village road signs are primarily to Jewish settlements. Almost all their neighbors, in their villages since time immemorial, might as well be invisible. They don't exist on the map. We continued on to the southern approaches of Jerusalem. The Har Homa neighborhood stands out like a thorn on the landscape. We returned to Route 60.
At the entrance to Kiryiat Arba, the guard again, for the thousandth time, requests ID from M. our driver. And yet again we too insist on presenting our IDs. Again a phone call is made to notify our arrival. The Golani flags are blowing in the wind. Again and again we see "Gideon Family" emblazed on their ensignia. In the city itself, the soldiers have hung posters: "The Lions of Wrath". This is what they call themselves.
We had arranged to meet someone who for eight years has been trying without success to obtain a permit to work in Israel. We gave him the relevant information and were again forced to remark that it wasn't at all certain that we could help him. Our sense of helplessness is a constant source of despair.
Because it was so late, we were "fortunate" enough to see a group of female teachers at the Tarpat checkpoint on their way back to H2. A soldier is trying to direct them to go through the magnometer. They refuse. To our joy, he "remembers" that it's permitted to allow people to go home without being checked and he opens the gate. An exchange of looks between us, small signs of victory exchanged between the women and us, and they turn to go home. "Such happiness."