Hebron, Sansana (Meitar Crossing), South Hebron Hills
Because schools and preschools are still closed for winter vacation, we decided to go to Hebron.
The Meitar crossing was empty, not surprising given the hour.
We went directly to Hebron. We walked along the path taken by worshippers to the Cave of the Patriarchs – the contrast between the impressive architecture of the old buildings and the ugly blocks that prevent the access of Palestinians living in nearby houses was prominent and jarring. The square of the Cave of the Patriarchs was crowded with many groups (soldiers, students, religious tourists). Shuhada Street has been fixed up for tourists: Mosaic maps tell the history of the place – naturally from the perspective of the settlers.
We walked up to Tel Rumeida, to the preschool (which was closed because of the vacation), to Aisa’s house, which is close to the last house of the Tel Rumedia settlers. From there, we had a good overview of Hebron. We met a reporter who regularly stays at Aisa’s house when she visits Hebron. She is Egyptian and Swiss and lives in Ramallah when on assignment here from her paper. She told us about the activities of the young people in the house. We walked around the Tel Rumeida settlement and saw how the surrounding area had been taken over by the settlers (in the direction of the excavations) - a new tomb (Yishai or Ruth) is used as a place of worship. In contrast to previous visits, we didn’t have a problem walking down to the Tarpat crossing via the settlement’s road (tourism welcomed).
The immense concrete blocks at the newly built Tarpat crossing emanate threat. The soldiers explained why the donkey who carries the milk jugs cannot pass through the crossing: it would destroy the detection machine because is not built for donkeys. As we continued, the “picture” of this impossible place became surrealistic: a female army instructor talking about Hebron to a group of male and female soldiers standing on both sides of the street; several Palestinian women and their children slowly pass among them; a group of religious tourists standing off to the side; and the air suddenly filled with the call of the muezzin summoning Muslims to prayer.
We returned to reality: Palestinian children standing on a nearby roof on the way to the Cave of the Patriarchs; a soldier raises his gun and shouts at them; they disappear. The soldiers (religious, as are most of the soldiers here) explain to us that they are protecting us from stone throwers. The short ‘conversation’ evokes accusations of our guilt of treason against our country and the need for laws to act against traitors like us.
Abed who has a store on the Cave of the Patriarchs square reminds us that the abrasive noise (sorry, the religious music) from the Gutnik House has ceased as a result of the invention of our members.