Abu Dis, Container (Wadi Nar), Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Silwan, Tue 14.2.12, Morning
Idit S., Anat T. (reporting)
6:50 Sheikh Saed
Few crossing, and the soldiers work efficienetly. A conversation with a pleasant Al-Quds University student who is researching the connection between Israeli and Arab stockmarkets. He travels by taxi to the university, and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. overseas next year. Obviously those who can leave, do so.
7:30 Sawahara checkpoint
Crowded with vehicles beyond what we remember from previous occastion. A group of girls studying in Jabal Mukhaber tell us they cross every morning and the checks cause delays, sometimes up to 30 mins.
We wish to enter the checkpoint, but the commander informs us, via the civilian security guard, that we may enter, but not exit from here. We have no time to waste and give up the attempt to co-ordinate with the DCO. But our questions are answered willingly: recently the list of those permitted to cross has increased from c. 200 to 800, and vehicles also cross (we saw), but not vehicles from Sheikh Saed. Children up to the age o 15 cross without a permit, only a birth certificate and a permit from school. The dealys are due to large numbers of pupils arriving at the same time, their bags checked, and a magnometer check as well.
Signs of yesterday's riots are evident all along the road leading from the American Route to Ein Hilweh St. through the Bustan neighbourhood: stones, graffiti in Hebrew and Arabic: "We await" "Silwan is ours" "Death to the Jews".
Earthworks continue apace in the lower part of Ein Hilweh (Shiloah) and the top (entrance to City of David). There is no longer any pretence that this is for the benefit of the residents -- it's all for the new tours and growing numbers of visitors to the City of David. We stop by the kindergarden destroyed yesteday along with the Centre for Alternative Information. In the Golani parking lot feverish archaeological salvage work continues -- the Jerusalem Municipality has approved the construction of a large visitors centre, and not a moment is wasted.
At the exit in the direction of the walls, police and border police officers stand on the side of the road, but not stop the traffic.
8:30 Olive Terminal
Many vehicles wait in the parking lot for the few passengers to Jerusalem. We continue in the direction of Al Ezariya, and see that the metal benches in the waiting shelter for the DCO (not operative for some 2 years now) have been pulled out. People complain about the filth accumulating around the facilties next to the shelter, used by those working in Jerusalem. (4000 cross during the early morning hours, by the estimate of the checkpoint people.) For a long time the toilets were closed, but now they're open and properly equipped but the filth is shocking. We complain at the checkpoint, then also by phone to the commander who says there are people who deliberately vandalise, but promises to take care of the problem.
Three passages are open, one to the DCO which opens at 8:30. Signs in Arabic instruct that one must first arrive at the Palestinians DCO in Al Ezariya, and the hours are indicated (8-12, 15-17).
A man arrives with a form inviting him to the cardiac department at Mokasad today, and a request turned down two weeks ago. On the refusal form it say, in Hebrew, that he was supposed to arrive last week with a detailed report from his family doctor. The man, of course, failed to understand the inserted Hebrew. He does not understand what is missing, he has a form from the Palestinian DCO and the invitation from Mokasad. Idit ways that nowadays they insist on the detailed letter from the family doctor, and even check that the visit has taken place. There is no doubt that occupation bureaucracy increases with time.
9:20 Wadi Nar
The alternative route we suggested to Sawahara A-Sharkiya is not to be recommended, and we were also wrong about the prospect of improving the road. The road is relatively wide but fearfully steep, much more thatn the road going up from the wadi straight to the checkpoint.
At Wadi Nar we are met again by 4 dogs, this time drowsy, but Idit does not dare to approach. The soldiers explain that the dogs are a problem of the Civil Administration; and that in principle there is some pressure sometimes in the afternoons, or at times of alerts, but otherwise instruction are to let traffic flow without unnecessary delays.
A sensational discover: there is a new sign to the grocery shop in Wadi Nar, "Signora". On the way back we also find out that the old lady's shop in Wadi Nar is one of a chain! The main "Signora" is located near the first roundabout at the entrance to the community.