Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed, Silwan, Mon 11.2.13, Morning
Dafna s., Anat T. (reporting)
Crossing today is efficient and quick. The younger children cross quickly without unnecessary checks or demands for sundry permits.
Workmen cross quickly (many of course earlier) as do high school pupils. The female soldier does not scold or scream, and the peace is kept. The style is the message, and today the cruel separation from the mother neighbourhood, Jabel Mukhaber, and from Jerusalem, is a little more bearable.
In conversation with the residents we kick around the wild idea of bringing Obama to visit the Sheikh Saed checkpoint which represents so much of the flagrant cruelty and injustice dealt to the Palestinian population of Jerusalem and its surroundings.
The project of judaizing the names in Silwan is already on all the google maps, and we are unable to tell the old familiar name of the intersection in which we are stuck in traffic on our way from the American road to Silwan. Let's call it the "Bustan Intersection" connecting the Shiloah road to the top of Ein Hilweh Street. The reason, it turns out, is archaeological digs carried out by the Antiquities Authority on the eastern part of the road. In the process of laying a sewage pipe, an ancient wall was hit (not unusual in this area) and now the Antiquities Authority is uncovering it carefully to decide whether to continue with a proper archaeological dig. The situation in this neighbourhood is explosive, as we all know, but this morning the problem is mainly traffic. There are no checkpoints, either police or military or any other kind.
8:15 Olive Terminal
A young mother with an infant in a carry-all and big bags walks beside us from the parking lot to the checkpoint. She doesn's want any help. She crosses to Al Ezariya without being checked.
In the crossing from Al Ezariya to Jerusalem there is one crossing point for the public and another for those seeking liaison services. The humanitarian crossing for pupils, teachers etc. is active only until 7:30. The line is not long and it seems our presence contributes to its fast diminishment. We learn from passersby that on Saturdays (which are regular school days for Palestinian pupils) there is an enormous crush between 7 and 8 a.m. because only one lane is open (for lack of manpower, it seems). There were cases of pupils waiting for more than one hour, then giving up and going home.