Our purpose was a close-up look at the additional security noose around the over-populated Palestinian neighbourhood, groaning under enforced pressures. When we asked a Palestinian bus driver about checkpoints, he said "which one?" There are three around and inside Issawiya, the Palestinian enclave inside Jerusalem, under occupation and a regime of separation.
It doesn't take more than a quick look to see how crowded, and how hopeless any possibility of a normal life. The air reeks of tear gas, and the spray of foul smelling water which seeps into everything and lasts for a very long time.
Something about the place, from Google:
A Jerusalem neighbourhood of some 15,000 residents, abutting on Jewish neighbourhoods to the north, east and west -- Jewish institutions on Mount Scopus, military bases, a ring road, and the municipal border of Jerusalem which, in fact, is the separation wall in the direction the West Bank. Not only are building permits (desperately neede to meet the needs of the residents) ever issued, but in addition two years ago the south side (the only option for extension) was declared a "National Park on the Mt. Scopus slope" -- this time attributing the suppression of any chance of a normal life not to security but to values of nature and a landscape without visible Palestinians. "Nature and landscape" translate into racism and transfer and of course eventually into Jewish real estate.
There is a checkpoint at present at the north entrance to the neighbourhood near the gas station, which appears to be moveable but has in fact been there all the last months, including police vehicles, uniformed personnel and a temporary plastic construction. The checkpoint, which was not operative in the early evening, operates during most hours of the day and night, and residents must use it for all their exits and entrances.
At the checkpoint people are delayed, documents checked, and the lines which form become a pretext for issuing a variety of fines. Interrogations are used to pressure people into providing intelligence which will be used during nightly invasions into homes. The residents say these take place every night.
The second checkpoint is at the eastern exit into the West Bank. The road leads to a military base called Metzudat Adumim (the Adumim Fort), and is cut off by the separation wall. Vehicles and security personnel stand at the intersection of main roads, ready to create an instant checkpoint.
We did not get round to seeing the third checkpoint in the centre of the neighbourhood.