Idit S., Liliane ( a new volunteer) Anat T. (reporting)
6:50 Sheikh Saed
Relatively few pupils crossing -- smoothly, with no delays. The drivers at the top of the hill, bundled inside their vehicles against the cold, don't know whether there is a holiday for some schools (the Authority? Waqf?). Garbage piling again on the slope close to the checkpoint.
7:40 Shuafat Camp Checkpoint
Two buses are parked in the inner parking lot, a group of older boys wait to embark, and the volunteers organising the transportation say that today checks of each school bus were prolonged (some 70 buses have crossed since 6:00), despite the agreement with the local residents' council whose responsibility it is to check, and only in the event of a specific suspicion would the buses be delayed and each student's documents checked. A meeting will be held today with security officials regarding this matter, and if the situation does not improve, the pupils' pick-up location will be moved beyond the checkpoint, thus increasing pressure of pedestrian crossing, for which the checkpoint is not planned. The council delegate tells us that around two years ago relations with the border police soldiers were excellent, but now there are cases of children beaten, followed by revenge, for example stone-throwing and violent encounters with soldiers.
At this checkpoint only those registered as residents of Anata/Shuafat, and possessing blue ID's or permits, are allowed to cross. But the Civil Administration does not permit a change of address for couples when a spouse hales from some other location in the West Bank; spouses of residents of the camp must cross at Qalandia or Olive Terminal. At the same time, very few Jerusalem residents of Shuafat are given Israeli citizenship following the usual procedure. The criteria are not transparent, and these few are possibly members of old and respected Jerusalem families. Is this a strategy in preparation for a municipal disconnection of the neighbourhood?
8:45 Olive Terminal
At this hour the terminal is fairly empty, but from a conversation with drivers and those crossing we learn welcome news: three weeks ago the DCO at this checkpoint began providing magnetic cards, humanitarian permits, and family reunion permits, for a year. Also there is an x-ray machine for the palm of the hand. The services are intended for all the central neighbourhoods of Jerusalem: Abu Dis, A-tur, Ras al Amud, Al Ezariya -- cards produced at the rate of c. 80 a day. Until now, residents had to travel to Jericho for their magnetic cards, and a fresh x-ray of their palms to accompany the cards.