Container (Wadi Nar), Sheikh Saed, Silwan, Mon 5.8.13, Morning
6:45 Sheikh Saed
Ramadan and summer vacation: the checkpoint is empty, but there are considerable changes in the area. The hill above the checkpoint, facing Jabel Mukhaber, has been shaved (and along with it the piles of garbage have disappeared); below it the work of preparing for route and wall is in progress, so the locals say. We checked with the Ba-Makom lobby who are apprised of the construction of the eastern ring road supposed to pass this exact point, and we learned that the plan has not yet been approved, but the wall will abut the road, so that work on this seems to have begun. We have no doubt that -- since the creation of the present coalition -- the Ministry of Defence has increased activity to seal the wall in the entire "Jerusalem Envelope" area, intending to lose no time.
No checkpoints, but with augmented police presence on the eastern fringes of the Temple Mount. It would appear that someone is taking serious note of the intentions of the Temple faithful and their supporters, at least during Ramadan.
We can hear, but not see, work on the access roads from Al-Ezariya because the regular road is blocked and there is a detour through Sawaharra Al-Sharkiya -- a remarkably steep ascent but slightly wider and less dangerous on the borders.
At the checkpoint we are greeted with raised weapons (but not, we hope, ready to fire), and hysterical calls to stop, as we approach our regular observation point by the small fence leading to the "governor's position". Our ID's are taken -- a price for our absence from this place for 6 weeks. After urgent phone calls to the commander of the area, the checkpoint commander arrives, and the dust settles. We're ordered to stand a little further off. We were unable to get hold of T. from the Civil Administration to report the incident, but made a date to see him next week (Monday at 8) at the Olive Terminal DCO. Anyone wishing to join is welcome.
We turned right at the Az-Za'ayyem checkpoint to check on progress in construction of the wall and roads in this area -- it should be recalled that in the future Palestinian traffic will be redirected to the south of the West Bank via a by-pass under the French Hill-Ma'aleh Adumim road. The Wall now reaches as far as the lower checkpoint, and there is no passage to A-Tur. We were compelled to drive back as far as the roundabout to the entrance of Ma'aleh Adumim. return to the Az-Za'ayyem.