Container (Wadi Nar), Sheikh Saed, Silwan, Tue 5.3.13, Morning

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Dafna S., Anat T. (reporting)



6:45 Sheikh Saed
The trash bins are overflowing and piles of rubbish are scattered all along the road descending to the checkpoint. Stench is in the air.  Pupils on their way to different schools wind their way between the piles.
We report to the person in charge of the area from the sanitation deprtment of the municipality.  He says the garbage will be removed today, as is done three times a week.  It seems this is not enough.  He tells us that along the American Road the removal of construction rubble has begun.  Is this related to the ring-road which has been approved; and what's the connection? Perhaps someone in the delegation of area planners was shocked by the state of the roads and the sanitation.
The slopes of the Sheikh Saed hill are dotted with a thick carpet of blue garbage bags.  The locals say that a garbage truck arrives from Ramallah once a week to collect, and meantime they  dump the bags, and occasionally burn them.  The neighbourhood is without doubt neglected both by Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  To be sure they don't pay taxes, neverthelss the infra-structure is in appalling condition. 
The soldiers this time don't oppose our arrival.  Many vehicles await passengers to Behtlehem and Jerusalem.  Passage is quick and smooth.
7:15 Sawaharra and Al-Sharkiya Checkpoint
Along the road winding from the checkpoint many pupils are walking to school in Jerusalem.  A few minibuses pass but in general few cars use this road and people mostly walk long distances. 
At the checkpoint itself a massive new shelter has been raised over the road and we film a rare spectacle: a car crosses the checkpoint for vehicles, is checked, then the barrier rises and car proceeds westward to Jerusalem.  A miracle we had not seen before.  But we did not see how this works in the opposite direction where there is a considerable distance between the soldiers and the crossing point.  The checkpoint commander (a woman) doesn't seem to understand why we're here and how she should deal with us, but her natural intelligence and cordiality overcome her suspicions and she talks to us at length, but will reveal nothing about those crossing.  We can see that it's all on listed the pages she holds, including IDs and car registration. In answer to our question whether the list includes residents of Sheikh Saed she says she "doesn't know."
7:45 Silwan
The archaeological salvage dig at the Bustan intersection continues despite cold and rain.  The archaeologist tells us that a tower, a wall, and a cistern from the second temple period have been revealed, and that it has been decided not to lay the sewage pipe here; she means to continue digging as far as possible before closing this salvage dig.  Hard to miss the enthusiasm of the archaeologists' Holy Grail: The City of David.  Where the pipe that is supposed to serve the residents of Silwan will be laid remains unclear.
8:20 Wadi Nar
A number of dirt roads branch off the broad and comfortable road between Al Ezariya and Wadi Nar, but it's not clear whether this is the necessary extension of the last section leading to the hill with the checkpoint.   
For the time being one must continue to climb the steep cliff which is officially a one-way road but with scary surprises jumping out at us from the opposite direction.
At the checkpoint the soldiers (including a woman) are standing on the side going south to Bethlehem.  The checking booth on the other side is not manned.  These soldiers are from a new division, and don't show any particular interest in the pack of dogs -- more than 10 -- surrounding the checkpoint.  At some point a fight between two packs of dogs begins, with much barking and threatening snarls.  You would surely not want to be a Palestinian caught in this scary scuffle.
With respect to the conduct of the checkpoint: no problems, no delays, traffic now flowing in both directions.