Abu Dis, Ras Abu Sbitan (Olive Terminal), Sheikh Saed
7:00 Olive Terminal
Little children have to live with the checkpoint day by day: they cross from Al-Ezariya to A-Tur in Jerusalem without their parents (who are prohibited), on the way to the good schools and kindergartens on the Mount of Olives. Some are without older siblings. Their merriment manages to ignore the system, occupying them while they wait for transportation. And we think of what their parents must be feeling, when sending them off unprotected. What if something happens on the other side?
The checkpoint is intermittently crowded, sometimes one and sometimes two crossings are open (except for the crossing to the DCO which is still closed). People move from one lane to the other trying to shorten the waiting time. A young student is turned back because of a permit, but his friends who have already crossed come to his aid with a document, and in the end he crosses. Dafna is reminded of the strategies of children in the ghetto...
We meet the teacher of the Lazarus Monastery kindergarten, accompanying a single child from El-Azariya; she tells us the child is the only remaining one of all the children of El Azariya, living only a few meters away but on the other side of the wall, and have given up. Now the kindergarten is occupied only by children living on the Israeli side of the wall.
People tell of the young man from Hebron whose permit was torn up (as we reported last week). They explained then that the permit was valid, but issued to a merchant and admittedly bought in order to cross and find employment in construction. It turns out that the man waited obstinately until 16:00, and then the policemen came out and told him that it was a mistake... We try to obtain a response from the checkpoint commander and from the local DCO but to no avail. Perhaps last week we had accepted the reasons of the checkpoint people too hastily. We promise to continue investigating what really happened, and what the subsequent fate of the permit and the young man.
7:45 Abu Dis (on the other side of the former Pishpash)
In the wake of our meeting with the kindergarten teacher, we drive to the neighbouring Abu Dis, which fought to remain on the Israeli side, to see what has changed. The stench of sewage greets us, and the security road abutting on the parking lot of the homes (and reducing the public space to a minimum) is under lock and key. It seems to be never used any more. The wall is up against the eastern facade of the houses, blocking windows, balconies, etc.
8:25 Sheikh Saed
Other than progress in the construction of a very high wall south of the neighbourhood, there is no change in the checkpoint. There's no work being done on the construction of a permanent building near the supporting wall. The mountain of garbage has been nibbled into, and the transportation "shabab" stand above and watch with indifference. On the other hand, there is progress in the construction of the parking lot intended for Sheikh Saed residents without blue ID's who are not allowed to enter the checkpoint in their cars. The lot is situated some 200 meters south of the checkpoint and is entirely empty, with the exception of 2 Palestinian workers, one from Beit Hanina and one from Ramallah. We wonder why the work was not apportioned to the locals -- did they refuse, or is someone taking the trouble to divert Palestinian labour?