'Anata-Shu'afat, Sheikh Saed
6:20 Sheikh Saed
The construction of the checkpoint seems to be reaching conclusion, but is not yet operative. Checking takes place from a position that seems to be temporary, close to the exit. Few are crossing at this hour and inspection is quick. When several arrive simultaneously the border-policewoman insists they approach "wahad, wahad."
At 6:30 children start arriving and the stream of those crossing increases. But just then the security guard, until now ensconced inside -- playing with his colourful hat and looking rather bored -- remembers his strong motivation and begins to yell at us. We don't move or respond or approach him. He leaves his position, armed and with threatening body language, and summons another border-policeman, who asks us "politely" (he says) to move away and out of the checkpoint area which is a "military area." We reply quietly that it's not, that it's a civilian installation on whose edge we are permitted to stand. He threatens ("politely"?) to call the police. We don't move. Just then a jeep arrives, another border-policeman disembarks -- he doesn't attempt to turn us away, but warns us authoritatively not to move forward. We were not planning to do so.
Meanwhile the stream of people crossing increases with the arrival of more children. The security guard stops them. [Security guards have no authority to perform any kind of checks of civilians -- they are employed by a private company and are neither soldiers nor policemen.] People crossing try to intervene, saying they know the children who are all pupils. The guard urges them to move back, even grasping a young man's elbow -- who protests assertively. A violent encounter threatens to develop, until one of the border-policemen comes to the guard's assistance, checks the bags of the little ones, but lets them all through without requiring permits. But he also moves the metal barriers to create a narrow passage. One border-policeman, one border-policewoman, and one security guard are now busy shepherding people crossing through a narrow passage between metal barriers. Why? Just because they can!
At the exit from the checkpoint, another border-policeman stands conspicuously wrapped in his prayer-shawl, praying very loudly to his God. Even his mates snigger at the spectacle.
The transportation area is very busy, as usual. A long traffic jam has formed from the checkpoint to the roundabout opposite the area.
According to S., the Supreme Court has set a limit of 60 days to find a solution to the water problem in the neighbourhood.
On our way to the checkpoint for vehicles, we and others present our documents to be checked by a female soldier who is eating her breakfast.
At the checkpoint, we encounter pandemonium. Impatient honking, border-policemen and guards milling around, not clear why they are there. Three checking position are active, and one lane is reserved for buses transporting pupils. The checks are mostly competent, but that is not enough to meet the pressure at this hour.
Here too a border-policewoman inquires about our business. She is followed by a border-policeman who is not satisfied with questions and immediately tries to get rid of us. We insist on our right to stay where we chose and he gave up.