Sansana (Meitar Crossing), South Hebron Hills, Tue 7.2.12, Morning
We decided not to go into Hebron today and instead headed straight for the checkpoint at the end of nowhere, Metzudat Yehuda/Beit Yatir, in order to observe the crossing of the children who live in the enclave created by the Separation Wall. We went first to the school and waited outside while M. went and spoke to the principal. The latter came out to meet us, all smiles , but made it very clear that if we want to visit we need to coordinate in advance. Today was salary day and all the teachers had finished early as a result. There were no problems now at the checkpoint he reassured us. We should have taken into account the fact that the PA has banned all cooperation with Israelis and we know of several projects that have suffered as a result. The school is under the PA Ministry of Education which also provides a handsome mini-bus for transporting some of the pupils.
We next went to the checkpoint where, after five minutes, "our" children arrived on foot and huddled for shelter while their ID's were checked. They were in good spirits despite the ferocious wind. A surly guard refused to answer our questions, but another, perhaps more senior, permitted us to accompany the children and observe the checking procedure and did not require us to show ID, as long we didn't try 'to cross into Israel'. The check, by a sour female guard, includes both an x-ray machine and a hand search of school bags, as well as a metal detector. The whole procedure from start to finish lasted 15 minutes - a huge waste of time and resources, but the children were not bothered and set off on their merry, if rather long, way home.
On our way home we stopped to take a look at the Meitar checkpoint where the small market was very busy. A lot of people stopped to ask if we could help get them permits to work in Israel, many of them survive by ferrying the returning lucky ones to their homes.