'Anata-Shu'afat, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal)
7:00 Shuafat Refugee Camp
In the wake of Nir Hasson's report last week on the shocking conditions in the Shuafat camp, we decided to visit and check out, assuming that the winter break for schoolchildren is now over. The break, it turns out, ends only this Thursday (and we encourage the Thursday shift to inspect and talk to the residents). The parking lot was empty. We talked to the coffee vendor and passersby who said the situation in Ras Al Hamis is reasonable, but inside the camp the piles of garbage mount and nothing is done about it. We were unable to understand how UNRWA's conflict with its workers came about, but even more incomprehensible is the Jerusalem Municipality's indifference to what is going on where 30,000 Jerusalem residents reside under its authority.
(By the way, the checkpoint area is also filthy.)
7:45 Olive Terminal (Ras abu Sabitan)
Work on raising the wall to connect with the checkpoint fence is proceeding apace -- performed by Palestinians, of course. A jeep is permanently parked to guard the remaining opening.
Today there is a deterioration in conditions at the checkpoint. A team of border policemen does not permit private vehicles to reach the upper parking lot (intended for private and paid parking). The lower parking lot is small and entirely jammed. The transportation folk are there too. The reason? Security,of course, because of work on the wall. But the wall at the upper parking lot is long completed... And then Dafna remembers a TV report yesterday on Palestinians crossing through a breach in the southern part of the wall, and perhaps there was also talk of El Azariya. The additional security may have been triggered by that report. We call the checkpoint commander, but he is not in charge of the border police team. He promises to speak with their commanders and find out why the site is blocked.
We meet a cute 15-year old with a stunning smile, coming from Hebron to seek work in Jerusalem. He supports an entire family with the work he manages to obtain if he can cross.
We also meet a fellow from Tul-Karem on his way to an interview at the American Consulate. He shows us the receipt for his payment for a visa application. First he complains that the border policemen will not let him cross, but they deny this, and he goes to the DCO for an entry permit. He returns with their order to do this through the Tul-Karem DCO. Why? Do they not have computers here to check all this? But this is only a rhetorical question -- we know the answer: such are the regulations. The fellow will not reach his destination today.