Rather empty Christmas at the checkpoints. The children are on winter vacation, and where are all the Christians? In Behtlehem, or at family celebrations in their homes. A woman laden with gifts, and two excited squeaky clean little ones, wanted to cross at Sheikh Saed for a family visit, but had no permit and was sent to the Olive Terminal, a 40 minute drive away. She had no patience for us and our offers of help.
7:20 Anata checkpoint - Shuafat refugee camp
The children are on vacation until 20-something of January), and those studying in the Israeli system join them, for convenience and solidarity. There only 4 buses in the parking lot, but no passengers and no drivers. The boys' school is also closed. The atmosphere around the checkpoint is pretty dismal: more and more residents realize that they have been abandoned behind the wall by municipal services, and no one really cares. At the vehicle checkpoint traffic is lively and checks are quick.
8:00 Olive Terminal
We expected to see Christians crossing to Jerusalem for Christmas, but the action it seems is in Bethlehem. In conversations with the DCO delegates, we're told that those requesting permits for worship during the Christian holidays have been granted them for a month. The rquests go through the Palestinian DCO, but there were many concessions this year. At the checkpoint we were the addressees for requests from several youths on the possibility of cancellling entry prohibitions (for 3 years) served by the police after being caught illegally present on the streets of Jerusalem.
8:50 Sheikh Saed
Our itinerary this time is back to front, and we don't expect to find many crossing at this your.
The above mentioned woman is told that no adult may cross without a permit, only the young children, and they send her to the Olive Terminal DCO. We wanted to try and help, but she ignored us, while the children stood by silently. A holiday scene.